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Design Basics - Moderation & Balance

Apr 25, 2008
It seems as though the eternal battle in the family dwelling is not between siblings or spouses, but rather between Design & Functionality. We all desire a space to be visually appealing, but at what cost?

Can a Minimalist dwelling be adequate for 4 children who own every Spongebob Squarepants toy on the market? Can a French Country kitchen provide the storage space needed for a master chef moving about like a whirlwind? Where does style confront substance and is there a point where the two of them unite to face the challenges of the home?

The solution...Moderation & Balance!

Moderation - Anything, including design, can be deadly if not taken in moderation. If you love cupcakes, go ahead and eat one...maybe two...pushing it on three. Twenty or thirty though, and you will most likely end up flat on your back on a gurney (en route to the hospital) or doubled over in pain in the restroom!

An overly designed space puts too much focus on how things look and not how they function. It is all well and good to have a beautiful space but when it doesn't meet the needs of the person living in the space what good is it? . We long for the handsome white marble countertops not thinking about our four kids who would give it "patina" as soon as the installers walked out the door or a gleaming hardwood floor that our dogs are giving "character" to with their chasing games.

It is important to make design choices that fit not only our lives but our personalities as well. For example a feature or fixture that requires constant maintenance is best suited to a type A personality who has the diligence to make it what it ought to be. They may be able to pull off spaces that the rest of us can only drool over in a magazine. And a comfortably "lived in" design would only drive that personality type bananas.

We have to truthfully analyze not only the way we live but also what we actually want to gain from the space. If you want a tranquil oasis from a hectic life, don't fill up your space with "stuff", instead de-clutter for a serene feeling. On the other hand, if you want to achieve a comfortable put-your-feet-on-the-table sort of atmosphere you might leave a few purpose driven accessories to enhance the feel.

Balance - The rolling meadows in all their beautiful glory, do not impress us with just the colors and textures that they provide, but also the life and interaction that they support. We want to see the butterflies dancing around the flowers...we want to hear the birds singing their songs...we want to smell the sweet nectar of the wildflowers that seems to make the bees go crazy!

You can still have the space you have always dreamed of, but knowing a few important things about yourself and the items you plan to bring into your space can save you a lot of headaches. Do your research about different products and their benefits and drawbacks. Sit down with a list of your desires for the space. You might have to give yourself a reality check now and again when your desires don't fit into your lifestyle, budget, personality, etc,

Good design is always a compromise, why do you think they call it a "marriage" of form and function? At the end of the day you may have had to make a few concessions but what you are left with is a beautiful space that is personalized exactly to you.

No one can live in a picture. Though it may look beautiful, much more is needed to support human interaction and all the complexities of modern day life. The marrying of Form & Function can be accomplished through the implementation of Moderation & Balance. It is not easy, but it is well worth the effort!
About the Author
After being a student of the University of Oregon's Architecture & Allied Arts program, Joel Stephens began a 10-year journey in furniture design & manufacturing. As well as being an ASID Industry Partner for lines he created, Joel established Peniel Products, an online retailer of Home Furnishings and Decor.
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