Scale and Proportion in Design
Two factors at the forefront of any designer’s toolbox are scale and proportion. They are similar concepts with important differences.
Scale refers to the spatial relationship between objects; one with a commonly known size. The baseline used for scale is us; humans ; and our spatial relationship to the world around us.
Proportion has a more ﬂuid interpretation. It speaks of the balance between design elements, and how they come together within a space. Designers and architects often link the two concepts to achieve harmonious design. While scale is the relative size of objects, proportion is the relationship between them.
Understanding scale and proportion are important in keeping a design balanced.
Scale is a designer’s ﬁrst consideration. This is because it affects everything humans do. Without scale as a benchmark, our lives would become much more challenging. Imagine a chair built six feet tall, or six inches tall. Without human scale, we would end up playing “Goldilocks” to ﬁnd a ﬁt.
Human scale is why we have conventional sizes for objects. “One size ﬁts most” rule tends to apply for features such as chairs, tables and counter-top heights. These objects are scaled based on human anthropometry. Our environments – at home, at work and elsewhere – have been standardized to meet this scale. This makes life, and design much easier.
Proportion is a relative of how well objects ﬁt together. It helps achieve that feeling of “righteousness” in a space. While too many objects placed close together make a room seem cluttered and cramped, not enough objects give the impression of cold sparsity. Proportion in design means achieving balance, and balance is key. A proportionate design pleases the eye, and enhances a design.
Correct proportion can be achieved through repetition of shapes, colors or textures. Personal style and preference also contribute to striking the right proportional balance. Proportion in design is relative, it is subjective, and so it differs with individual preference. Having an “eye for design” comes down to being able to ﬁnd the right ﬁt, which is also dependent on preferences, intentions and opinions.
The details of a space add up to have a profound effect on the space as a whole.
Luminance of an object also helps in establishing proportion. This includes both natural and artiﬁcial light. Cool white lighting can pair with square shapes and a cooler color palette for modern corporate environments. For hospitality spaces or at home, warmer lighting with rounder shapes gives a more relaxed, intimate feel. Light can attract or detract attention from areas. Light can be used as a tool to highlight areas of focus such as art. The absence of light can hide away areas of utility, such as a storage area. Light affects the perception of space, so successful proportions depend on efﬁcient lighting solutions.
Understanding scale and proportion are important in keeping a design balanced. Great design requires a thorough awareness of these design principles. Collage Consultants know that interactions and relationships between these elements need consideration. The details of a space add up to have a profound effect on the space as a whole. This starts with proper consultation of scale and proportion.
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Written by : Wafa AlJabal
Wafa holds a strong belief that successful architecture should elevate user experience beyond expectations and feels that, the impact upon our daily lives, by how where we live is designed, is often underestimated.