Like rhythm in music, rhythm in design brings a sense of movement to a space. It carries the eye along a path at a pace that is comfortable for the viewer. Rhythm in interior design denotes creating visual interest throughout space by repeating and contrasting visual patterns.
Rhythm is defined as recurrence, continuity or organized movement.
When you repeat color, shapes, pattern, texture or complementary similar pieces through space, you create visual interest and rhythm.
In interior design, there are five principles of rhythm.
This includes radiation, contrast, transition, gradation, and repetition.
Radiation is an element of rhythm in interior design when the features in the room are balanced and repeated around a center point.
Some examples include:
Circular table with a vase of flowers and chairs radiating off the table.
Stairs going in circle around center point.
Adding a circular pendant light on top of the table plus two circle prints on the wall emphasizes radiation.
Contrast is an element of rhythm that involves directly opposing colors and shapes. It can be found in many different ways. Below are some examples:
Shapes – curves in a chair compared to strong square lines on table.
Colors – Green and red, the opposite colors in color wheels, create contrast. The green in your garden against your red window shutters and door, for instance.
Styles – Many dining rooms have plenty of traditional details of architecture already built-in. You can hang modern paintings to contrast old-fashioned interiors, for instance.
Through the transition, rhythm leads the eyes gently and subtly into an uninterrupted, continuous flow from one spot in the room to the next.
Transition is not as easy to define as the other principles. Unlike gradation or repetition, transitions tend to be a smooth flow, in which the eyes glide from one spot to another.
Using a curvy line to lead the eye gently is the most common use of transition.
Examples of this include rounded edges, winding paths or arched doorways.
Another principle of rhythm is gradation. The size of the same room objects changes from large to small or from small to large, from light to dark or vice versa.
This creates a nice rhythm drawing the eyes up and down the line of gradation.
This type of rhythm is taking different sized elements and decreasing or increasing one or more of its qualities. Varied sizes would be the most obvious implementation of this.
Different sized candle clusters on a basic tray create a great interest due to its shown progression.
You can also use color to achieve gradation such as a monochrome color scheme where every element is a shade slightly different from one hue.
Repetition is a principle of rhythm that is based on similar patterns, colors, textures, forms shapes and similar lines throughout your interiors.
The technique of repetition gives the room a clear sense of cohesiveness and stability.
For instance, when the eyes follow a continuous movement along the halls by using repeating floor lights or upright posts.
When you repeat framed prints that are the same size, this is an effortless method of achieving a gentle, lovely rhythm. Repetition is using the same elements more than one time in space.