Symmetry or Asymmetry? That is the question!
I noticed when I came to London, that the people here do love their symmetry. I mean, you see a small percentage of them trying to break this pattern, and a few of them really do succeed. But I am a sucker for the opposite effect. What do I mean? Well let's start discovering.
So what is symmetry?
I guess symmetry is a way through which people have been trying for thousands of years to create beauty ( you know CCL and all that ). Everybody knows that the Greeks used to excel at this through architecture. Take the Pantheon from the famous Acropolis in Athens - it is a beautiful example of geometry, straight lines and symmetry. Although, it turns out it is more then just that ( there are some optical illusions at play there as well ). But maybe that is a subject for another time.
What I am trying to say is that, in my opinion, symmetry equals a sort of balance that pleases the eye. This happens when you have a central axis to your field of view, and you place, let's say, 5 objects on the left and 5 on the right. Now is where the debate begins: should you position these objects in the same way, place, hierarchy, or should you do something slightly different? Personally, I enjoy symmetry, but I find it to be boring after a while...I mean, there are no surprises. You know exactly where an object will be, because its pair on the other side.
Anyway, this balance can be achieved through no. of objects ( pieces of furniture and / or accessories ), materials, textures, colours, patterns and fixtures. It can also generate a sense of calmness and stability, but at the same time, a bit dull and not that creative. I think the word would be too "safe" for interior designers. We need to create a story, an intrigue in our design...a movement, a flow. Not that a balanced, symmetric design cannot achieve that as well. I guess it all depends on the clients, what they want to achieve, and on their communication with the designer.
What is asymmetry?
Now that we've talked a little bit about symmetry, let's talk about its sister! What is asymmetry? It is the opposite of symmetry. I know what you'll say, you'll say ' well daaah'. Alright then, fair point. By definition, asymmetry is the lack of equivalence between parts. Or to put it bluntly, if you have an image / object / display - the things on the right are not identical to the things on the left; plain and simple.
You can choose to do whatever you want, in a subtle way or in a bold 'in your face' way. What do I mean with this?
Interior design is all about creating a beautiful sanctuary, your inner space, where you feel safe. You may choose to do whatever you like in there...after all, it has to suite your personality and to make you feel happy & comfortable in your own surroundings. Let's take the bedroom, for example. You have a wall with a door on one end. By logic, if you want to place the bed on that wall on its center axis, the remaining space for the nightstands cannot be divided equally. No reason to panic, it's a reason to explore the opportunities. You can chose to have 2 nightstands with different sizes: one shorter for your partner and one longer for you, obviously ( because you need all the space you can get to fit your creative personality )!
As you might have guessed from before, what I personally find appealing is the asymmetry. More than that, I love the subtle asymmetry. I enjoy it because it is like a tiny game of 'spot the differences'. At first glance you think the design is identical, but at a closer look, you find that the bits & bobs on the left are not in the same position as those on the right. Aaaa...sneaky sneaky! It's like only the chosen ones can see and pass this test! Game on!!
To be fair, you don't have to necessarily design asymmetrical on purpose. A skilled designer can adapt to your interior. He / she can create asymmetry by styling the accessories from your symmetrical joinery or piece of furniture (if that is the case), in a different order. That way you don't have to spend a lot of money on a special design. Sure, you will not have a very bespoke design, but in case you are on a low budget, this can be another approach. Asymmetry can be achieved through different accessory placement, different colours / textures ( cushions on the sofa for example ), different art on the wall etc. You just need to put your mind to it, and you can achieve it! Like the picture below, first thing you see is symmetry, but at a closer look, you start to notice the differences: the use of colour and details.
To recap - symmetry offers order, calmness, structure and balance, but on the downside, it can be a little dull and offer no surprises. At the opposite end, asymmetry offers playfulness, balance ( if well designed ), creativity and the surprise of discovering bits, details and even stories..
So now that we have touched base a little bit with both options, how can we decide which option can provide the best results? You know my personal opinion, but I guess it comes down to you personal taste ( like most things ). As always, you just have to approach it with an open mind, experiment and discover what suits you the best, what makes you feel happy in your own interior. After all, that is the most important thing!
There you have it ladies and gents - Symmetry vs Asymmetry! Which one should be the winner ? Which one should be the one to make an impact in the future of interior design? Should we vote on it?
All images that are credited as '©Detail Movement', are done by Raluca Vaduva for Detail Movement. All rights reserved. All pictures that are not my own, I credit them to the best of my knowledge & research, to their online sources. I do not claim ownership over them in any way.