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  • Sara Nordling

Principles of Design: Balance

Double weave with surface pleating

The preceding blog posts have focused on the elements of design. These are the building blocks, the tools used, to create a design. I am now shifting focus to the principles of design. The principles are how the elements are used to make a design.

The first principle I will look at is balance. Balance is when you look at an object and it does not feel that one area carries too much attention at the expense of other areas. It is not visually top heavy, bottom heavy or lopsided. All elements in the design work together in a visual harmony called “balance.”

Graphic of asymmetrical balance, horizontal with large vertical bar on right and 3 narrow bars at left.

This graphic shows asymmetrical balance.

Square graphic with row row of x's at the bottom edge.

This graphic is not balanced. The design is bottom heavy and the motifs

are not evenly spaced and are crowded at the right.

The easiest way to create balance is symmetry. Balance does not need to be symmetrical. Admittedly, it may be more challenging to create balance that is not symmetrical. However, the end result will be a more active and lively design. What are some ways you can create an asymmetric balance? How about balancing a large dark rectangle with a smaller, brighter one. Or try a few larger, wider, lines on one end and more and thinner lines on the other. There is no single answer for how to create balance.

Graphic, square with horizontal bars at top and vertical ones at right side.

Another graphic showing asymmetrical balance. May work for a dinner or cocktail napkin. Or even a wall hanging provided you keep a row of bars at the top or the graphic will become bottom heavy.

Graphic showing unbalanced design. Vertical rectangle with large square at left and narrow horizontal at far right.

This graphic again shows an unbalanced design. The visual weight of the shape one

on the left is too dominant, weighting the design visually to that end.

You may at this point be thinking that I am opposed to symmetry. On the contrary! To illustrate my point, think of the Taj Mahal. It is considered one of the Seven New Wonders of the World! It is symmetrical in its design. It is also a mausoleum. The symmetry of the building and gardens make it a calming and peaceful place. That was the intention. I have nothing against symmetry. Just know that it is calming, stable and peaceful. Peaceful has its place, but so does active and exciting.

I am going to conclude each principle by giving you a design challenge. You do not have to do the challenge. Or, you may alter it to fit what it is you weave. We will begin with a relatively simple one.

Graphic of blue vertical rectangle with large vertical rectangle in pink on the left and a vertical stack of purple squares on the right

Graphic showing asymmetrical balance. Note changes in color and size of shapes.

Challenge: Design a scarf using line as a dominant element and demonstrating the principle of balance resulting in a design that is not symmetrical. If you have been following these posts and have made a list of line possibilities, go to that list now and perhaps try a means of making line you have never used before. You may post images or sketches of your designs.

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