What is it that interior aficionados mean when they refer to ‘geometric design’? Do flashbacks of days at school come to mind as you try to figure out how what you learnt from protractors and maths books can affect your decor?
Geometric interior design is much less dry but there are some textbook ways to reference it in room styling and scheming. Here’s how to understand and exercise the trend.
Points, lines, surfaces, form, shape, angles – all words associated with geometry be it in the classroom or in the world of design. Fundamentally, geometric forms always come back to one thing – shape. But knowing how to incorporate them into your interior means knowing the answer to what exactly is a geometric shape?
Image Credit: Martyn Lawrence Bullard
Geometric shapes and patterns (formed of a series of geometric shapes) are everywhere. They can be two-dimensional or three. They can be angular or they can be as smooth as an arc.
Circles, ovals and crescents are as geometric as triangles, squares and hexagons, even though it’s a common misconception that geometric shapes in interior design always consist of strong, cutting lines.
Without getting too granular on concepts and algebra, the basics of geometric design are about focusing on what are referred to as man-made shapes.
So the regular and irregular shapes you’d have learnt about at school (from parallelograms to cubes) rather than shapes that come from natural objects (from plant and animal species) and so on. So a cushion cover with a quatrefoil motif would be an example of a non-geometric pattern, whereas a triangle-printed cover would pass with flying geometric colours.
Image Credit: The Dumont by St James
Most people already have a degree of geometric home decor, but to up the ante, start with some simple geometric patterns that feature any of these classic contenders:
Image Credit: Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Photography: Tim Street Porter (L), Rigby & Rigby (R)
When you look at geometric design images, it’s easy to home in on textile prints rather than the forms of key pieces of furniture and accessories in the room and their innate geometry. Side tables, mirrors, rugs, cushions, and even tissue boxes are typically represented as a strong-sided square or cube in stature. Repeat that stance around the room and you’ll create a more subtle geometric pattern.
One of the icons in geometric design, patterns with triangles are confident and dynamic and will make your room feel energised. Try not to mix too many different types of triangle in the same space though or it can quickly overwhelm. It’s far more effective to stick with one or two and to use them sparingly.
Much like with squares, it’s surprisingly easy to make circular geometric patterns in interior design. Coffee tables can be circular, elongated circles in lozenge-shaped form are a huge trend right now and suit central pieces of furniture like footstools, and mirrors and rugs come in a huge array of circular sizes.
It’s a good idea to contrast strong-lined geometric shapes with the softer circular sort to create balance and harmony.
While the Ancient Greeks were known to be early adopters of geometric design in their interiors because of how it achieved structure and serenity, certain shapes will always feel that bit more daring and pace-changing. Cue the hexagon.
Image Credit: Greg Natale
Almost all types of geometric pattern when used en masse are typically linked to three styles of aesthetic – Art Deco, Mid-Century and Contemporary. Here, you can afford to style a room with multiple sorts of shape and pattern, but it’s still important to not go overboard or no one shape gets its moment in the spotlight.
Too many references to geometric design means each pop gets watered down and there’s little cohesion.
Either stick to one category of shape and repeat throughout the room – this is one way of how to make a geometric pattern in a statement-worthy way, such as in the line-focussed Greg Natale bedroom where wallpaper, throw and pillows share the same point of view.
Similarly, the Martyn Lawrence bathroom lets the square take centre stage by using it from head to toe in tile work. Or pick three and spread them to cover geometric furniture and geometric home accessories in whatever volume works for you.
The Interior Marketing Group’s living room mixes line, square and triangle in its artwork alone and yet the overall effect is subtle.
Image Credit: Interior Marketing Group
But injecting a dose of geometry into more country or period decor schemes is more than possible too. Be mindful of keeping the ratio in favour of your overriding style preference with just a few nods to geometric form.
It’s helpful to have more than one example of shape as this will help with the blending and for at least one to be circular – its softened edges suit a more traditional interior which you can see in the petite stool in Helen Green Design’s dressing room.
And remember, you can counteract the contemporary nature of geometric shape with colour palette and print. Think of a classic, pleated pinwheel cushion as an example which is a typical geometric circle in shape but the central button, gathered fabric and pastel or neutral colour change its character completely.
However you style your interior, be sure to always take into account the effect of architectural shapes already present in your room.
Floorboards – planks and herringbone or chevron parquet – give you rectangles, windows can give you squares, rectangles and circles, staircases can cut a trapezium-shape in the room, doorways bring in rectangles, and even ceilings play a role.
So look up, look down and look around, take note of their influence and then do the maths to see how they all add up in your scheme.
Header Image: Fürstenberg Porcelain