Ever walked into a house and thought to yourself “I think I just stepped into a weird looking museum and I can’t find the way out”? Chances are one of two things: 1. Either the owner of the house was too lazy and decorated their house using every single item of furniture they could find, or that they bought anything they saw in a store to decorate their house, or 2. They tried to go for a unique look with a whole lot of accessories but instead ended up hoarding a huge load of worthless items.
Often designers or home owners try to design an interior space or an architectural building in a way that aims to grab attention and turn it into the talk of the town. Unfortunately, there’s a fine line between an interesting avant-garde space and a disaster. Some people try desperately to create something unique to the point where the outcome is a complete failure.
Depending on the interior being designed, whether it’s a residential villa, restaurant, shopping mall, or urban garden, each has specific guidelines and rules that may only apply to that specific space. For example, a residential house shouldn’t be as complex as a high-end hip restaurant simply because its users are extremely different. Where one deals with a direct family or individuals with specific needs, the other caters to the general public.
Some ground rules to creating an interesting design is to go with what you like and what you’re passionate about. At the end of the day, design is subjective and each person has an opinion and taste. Furthermore, following your own taste and needs will make the process feel less like a chore. The ideas will flow better and working on the project will become more fun.
To illustrate, let's take this example. A woman is in the process of designing a one-storey house for her family and she wants the ladies' sitting room to reflect her taste, which is country chic and floral. A unique yet simple idea could be a square transparent acrylic center table filled with dried roses of different shades of spring green and pink. Such an idea is subtle, simple, and yet attractive and efficient.
Let's take another example. An entrepreneur who thoroughly enjoys rock climbing is opening up a modern café/bakery and wants to use this sport as inspiration. Instead of creating a whole wall that looks like a rock climbing gym, the man can use individual elements inspired by rocks. He can ask his designer to have a rough piece of limestone or tough granite suspended from the ceiling, or he can add a rough stone fountain in the center of the café, or have the wall behind the service counter clad with unpolished rough textured stones.
Here are some basic guidelines to follow when enhancing a space:
- Creativity not Cost: The key to enhancing a space is creativity and not how much money is spent in decorating it. A table entirely made up of industrial reused metal can be more beautiful than a $10,000 designer table.
- Natural Surroundings: Always include an element of nature in a space. It can be a view of a garden, or a floor to ceiling window with ample amount of sunlight. Or even a small potted plant. Such small unnoticeable everyday elements bring life to a space.
- Reuse Personal Items: The easiest way to create a unique space is to reuse personal items seeing as no one else has them. Instead of throwing out worn out heels or shoes, paint them all a monochrome shade and turn them into small little planters (or bookends).
- Don’t Stay Grounded: Never think that a design or furniture has to be placed on the ground. Abnormal creativity has no limits. Hang a chair from a ceiling, or pin an everyday item on a wall, or display a chandelier inside a modern acrylic glass square stool.
- DIY is the Way to Go: “Do It Yourself” projects are amazing and time consuming in a positive way. Don’t wait for some fancy European designer to create your unique products. Get your ideas on paper, grab some paint and some carpentry materials and go at it!
Creating a jaw-dropping design that everyone compliments you on is an amazing feeling of accomplishment, but don’t force yourself into an idea or it will turn out looking like the aftermath of a 3 year old piñata party. Always remember: innovate don’t imitate.
– Ali Al Najjar
Ali Al Najjar is a Bahraini interior designer and graduate of the Engineering College of the University of Bahrain. Ali writes about interior design and architecture topics for Khaleejesque Magazine.