Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Building Vignettes - Part 2

I've been meaning to post more about my accessories class, and now that the holidays are over I have my chance. (i.e. more time)

One of the biggest tips our instructor gave us about building vignettes, was that the vignette itself should form the shape of V's and W's or a triangular formation or peaks and meadows if you will.

Vignettes can be shown with symmetry, informal symmetry, or they can be asymmetrical.

Let me show you some examples of what I'm referring to...

The example below designed by the ultra talented Tobi Fairley is an example of formal symmetry. Balance is key with formal symmetry. The lamps appear to be the same as are the plants and pillows. They are balanced on either side of the sofa with the central focal point being the piece of artwork centered on the wall. Notice how your eye goes over to the left or right, then up, and then back over again. And if you take a look at the table on the left or the right, you should be able to pick up on the right triangular formation of the lamp, down to the decorative box, and then over to the plant.

Living room designed by Tobi Fairley courtesy of House Beautiful

Some images you could say include formal and informal symmetry. In the image above, you could also argue informal symmetry because it appears that the accessories on either side of the sofa do not match. On the left there is a decorative box but on the right there is a vase. So often times you could see a mix of all different looks.

Still with me?

What do you think of the image below? I see examples of formal and informal symmetry in this image. This living room is designed by Massucco Warner Miller.

Image courtesy of Massucco Warner Miller

Formal symmetry of the draperies, lamps, mirrors, consoles, chairs...balance, balance, balance. Now if you look at the console underneath each mirror, there are different accessories being used, which creates informal symmetry.

Notice that there are layers and layers of vignettes within the rooms.

Now for a few examples of asymmetrical vignettes...your eye is still going to go up and then back down again but the look is not going to be balanced.

The image below is a bedroom designed by Phoebe Howard.

Image courtesy of Phoebe Howard

See to the left of the bed there is the lamp, the vase of flowers, and the frames. Unrelated objects that are not balanced but still bring the eye up and back down again, which you could say is an example of asymmetry.

When researching homes on Atlanta Homes, I came across a beautiful home designed by architects Thomas Paul Bates and Jeremey Corkern. There are lots of layers of asymmetry in the photo below. The console has the lamp on the right with a book and a few objects down to the bottom left. And then the ottoman at the bottom of the photo also has an example of an asymmetrical vignette. Not balanced but has height and still brings the eye up and down.

What do you think of the sunburst mirror on the top right? My eye keeps gravitating toward that piece, but then I sort of wrap my way over to the left down and around back up to the right. Interesting.

Photo courtesy of atlantahomesmag.com

And then two asymmetrical vignettes in this photo below. One above the fireplace and one on the console to the right. Both are so pretty and simple yet still achieves the goal of moving the eye.
Photo courtesy of atlantahomesmag.com

What are your thoughts on the various looks? Do you lean more toward a balanced look or an asymmetrical look? Do you have any tips with building vignettes to share?

Another one of my goals for 2012 is to keep educating and studying interiors. Since my classes are over, I still want to keep moving forward with applying what I've learned and trying to put the concepts into practice. I'll be revisiting a lot of the material that was covered in my classes and will post about the material I think you might find interesting.


  1. oops, pressed publish too fast. What I meant to say was that this is great information for us "non-designers". Love learning new things of about design. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nice post, Holly! I'm drawn to more symmetrical placements of tables, lamps, and art but I like the smaller accessories mixed up a bit for interest. Fun to re-live your design classes!

  3. I love asymmetrical looks, but always tend to use symmetical for myself...love the formal, organized feel!!

  4. What a great article, Holly! You've made this easy to understand, and your examples are awesome! I'm definitely more of an asymmetrical girl, and lean a little towards informal symmetry as well. Formal symmetry is not my style, but I appreciate what it can do for a room.

    I'm looking so forward to what you bring to us next!

  5. Great pictures and tips Holly. It's interesting to thing about how the eye moves and processes images. How we really "see" things. I'm more of a symmetrical girl, because I think it's easier for me to place things this way. But I definitely like the look of asymmetry and I'm trying to use it more. Creating a pretty vignette is tough!! I really appreciate this advice. Thanks for sharing.