How to Start Your Own Custom Design Furniture Business

Method 5 of 5: Incorporating the Fundamentals of Furniture Design

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    Find inspiration for your designs. Inspiration comes from many places. For example, the natural world is full of shadows, forms and silhouettes that can turn into the basis of shape, line and colors for your design. Also, everyday items such windows, food or buildings can inspire ideas for cabinetry, table legs and other furniture elements. Of course, always be inspired by the needs of your customers. Consider how the furniture will be used when determining materials and structure. Also, think about the design aesthetic of your brand. For example, your design style can be contemporary, traditional, country or Victorian.[22] X Research source

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    Create contrast. Contrast is the pairing of opposites, such as light and dark or rough and smooth textures to generate visual interest or depth.[23] X Research source It can also be used to highlight an important element of a piece of furniture. For example, if the doors on your cabinet feature a signature design element, craft them from a different wood or change the direction of the wood to draw the eye to it. Contrast can be subtle or more obvious, but it should not be overused. Avoid severe, distracting contrast in your pieces. Rather, opt for artful playfulness.[24] X Research source

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    Consider proportion.Proportion refers to the size and scale of the components of the piece.[25] X Research source In addition to size, it also has to do with creating harmony among the colors, shapes and textures. The way that these elements should relate to each other depends on your cultural experience. The eye becomes accustomed to seeing a desirable proportion among elements in nature, especially on the human body. In fact, you probably don’t even think about proportion until you see something that looks out of proportion.[26] X Research source

    • The Golden Rectangle is a symmetrical relationship that has been used in design for thousands of years and by famous artists such as Salvador Dali, Leonardo da Vinci and the designers of the Parthenon. It is a mathematical concept that makes visual designs more appealing. It is derived from the Fibonacci sequence which is found everywhere in nature, from leaves, to seashells and even the human face. The proportion of the Golden Rectangle is 1:1.618.[27] X Research source
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    Determine shape.Shape is also known as form. It is determined by the outline of the piece. Three basic types of shape in furniture are geometric, organic and abstract.[28] X Research source

    • Geometric shapes include circles, squares, rectangles and triangles. They are make from straight lines and curves and are often symmetrical.
    • Organic shapes are often asymmetrical and mimic objects found nature, such as leaves or bodies of water.
    • Abstract shapes are artistic representations of forms which may or may not be recognizable.
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    Look at the relationship between the lines.Lines on a furniture define the space and guide the eye around the piece. Depending on the design style, they can be straight or curved, thin or thick, vertical or diagonal. Examine the lines in your pieces to evaluate how they align.[29] X Research source

    • Horizontal lines add length and width to a piece.
    • The combination of vertical and horizontal lines add symmetry and balance.
    • Curved lines create movement and add whimsy.
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    Add texture and patterns. Texture is the quality of the surface of the material. Texture can be visual, such as how a piece absorbs or reflects light. It can also be tactile, such as the feeling of fabric on a chair. Patterns are created by the repetition of elements in a piece. You can add pattern with shape, color and texture.[30] X Research source

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    Introduce color.When using color, consider its three qualities: hue, value and intensity. In addition, colors can also be described as warm or cool. Color can be added to furniture with paint, stain and textiles or by using different kinds of wood.[31] X Research source

    • Hue is the name of the color, such as red, yellow or blue.
    • Value is how light or dark the color is. Light colors can sometimes make furniture appear unstable, whereas dark colors add visual weight.
    • Intensity refers to how bright or dull the color is.
    • In general, warm colors are red, yellow and orange, and cool colors are blue, green and violet.[32] X Research source

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Contrasting between colors or textures.

Nope! Contrast is an important tool when it comes to design. It will help you to create unique and inspired looks, but it is not the same as proportion. Try another answer…

Creating harmony between shapes and textures.

Correct! Proportion is so inherent that you likely only see things that are out of proportion since the rest just “looks right.” Proportion is about working with colors, shapes, and textures to create a perfect harmony. Read on for another quiz question.

Working with organic, asymmetrical shapes.

Not quite! Shape, or form, can be broken into three types: geometric, organic and abstract. While shape does influence proportion, it is not the same thing. There’s a better option out there!

Aligning stylized lines.

Not exactly! Proportion and line work may interconnect, but line work, the space, and shape of the lines isn’t the same as proportion. Try another answer…

Varying the intensity of colors.

Try again! When you refer to the intensity of a color, you are talking about how light or dark the color is. Color is important and it does play a role in proportion, but they are not the same thing. Try another answer…

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