10 Elements of Design

Design elements are universal. Whether you are an interior designer, graphic designer, architect, painter or anything else that involves some sort of creativity, you have probably considered some, if not all, of these elements of design.

What is design though? Is it simply lines, shapes, colors and organization? Whatever it is, it is easy to manipulate by changing even a minor detail. I focus mostly on creative design, but these elements are relevant for any type of design.

Here are some things to consider if you are creating something new or need to find ways to revise a look.

Composition

Also referred to as layout. This is the overall visual organization and arrangement of all elements within a design.

Scale + Size

I went to Alys Beach and fell in love with the architecture. The exteriors were not complex, but the elements were prominent. Oversized planters, giant doors, exaggerated architectural details….these features made the design. Think outside of the box when it comes to sizing objects.

Balance

There’s not much freedom when it comes to balance. All things must be countered by something else. Think about a nightstand with styling objects. You may use something tall, but there has to be other items as well and they can’t all be the same size. Maybe you are a painter. If so, you realize there must be some sort of focal point with balancing elements. Whether in scale, color or size, there is always a counterpart.

Alignment

Print design is one of my favorites. Any editorial designer will tell you alignment can change the look of any design. Centered, left aligned, right aligned or justified text – each is totally different. Consider elements within your design and where context should be. You may even want to try wrapped text around objects or to create a form.

Repetition

If you use too many different objects in any design, there is no unity. You must find ways to repeat items – maybe that’s a color, pattern, texture or other variable. Repetition ultimately brings looks together in a subtle way. This is especially true in interior design. Ordered chaos brings cohesive looks.

Contrast

This is how you differentiate elements to create hierarchy. Example: Headers, body text, sub headers.

Negative space

Also referred to as white space. Utilizing white space can drastically affect a design. For example, a lot of ads from years ago were full of details and objects. These days, it’s not uncommon to see very minimal designs. Maybe it’s because of the digital world we live in. Viewers want to see the key points quickly without shifting through design elements to get the details.

Symmetry + Asymmetry

Clean cut and organized symmetric designs vs asymmetry in design. There’s no right or wrong answer here. Consider landscaping. You can create a very organized scape with order and defined parts that mirror each other or you can create variation with different plants that are different heights and shapes. Symmetry can be created with a mirrored layout / organization and / or by using the same objects.

Color

Color establishes the mood of your overall design. Color psychology is something to consider when creating any marketing material. If you already have a color in mind, browse different hues by looking at a color wheel.

Texture

Mostly for 3D designs, texture gives a design depth. Oil paintings, textiles, materials, exteriors….textures drastically change the way any design looks and feels.


Does this help with you next project? Experiment with looks and designs by altering any of these elements. Slight changes make big differences.

Happy designing 🙂