The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor

Vince Lombardi

Design Principle of Scale & Proportion

When we speak of scale in design, we speak of the relationship between space and the details within the space that define it as well as the size of detail we include of furnishings, light, the use of line, etc. It is important in design to recognize the use of scale in creating a desired effect in the space. We can use larger elements of line or mass to create a focal point that may not be in scale, but it draws attention. Or we can carefully construct a space and keep everything within a certain scale. A smaller space requires a lower profile sofa, not over stuffed, but sleek and lower to the ground. If we have a larger space we can use chairs with higher backs, possibly overstated and fun, use of fabric with larger prints, wallpaper with large patterns, lighting that is elaborate or simple but within a larger space we can create different effects all over the place , we have more flexibility with our choices and our goals for the space. We use characteristics of scale, as you walk into a space define in your mind how scale is used in the space and what you would bring in to balance scale or enhance scale elements.

As a Designer, scale is one of the first things I use to create a scheme or a feel for an interior or a floor plan design for a home. When a home owner asks for my help in trying to figure why a room isn’t working, I look to the scale, first of the room itself, evaluate what the architectural designer was trying to achieve with the space. I would ask you to decide if the integrity of the home design is more important to you or is the function or feel you are trying to achieve more important. More often than not you are trying to solve a problem and create a scheme or a feel you are more comfortable with or that represents your sense of style, not the architects. This is where you would address the use of scale in the room.

            As an artist working in clay the human scale was of utter importance to be aware of. As a functional potter I was concerned with how each piece could be used well. All the while trying to play with scale and proportion to create something interesting and bold – careful balance to maintain for sure when you are making a mug.

What is the Scale of your Life?

When we speak to the scale of our life, what scale would we like to build it to? For instance, do you allow your fears or your life blueprint to define a smaller space in your life for us to build our lives within? Or does our life blueprint allow us an unlimited canvas on which to create the scale of our lives.

Being an artist or creative we concentrate on making that one piece, but then how do  we get our work out to the public. As a student your classmates can see it. Other than your family and teachers how will you get real feedback from what you are creating? As an artist, writer, creative person how will touch those who need to see your work to grow, learn and experience more out of life? You do a disservice to humanity by not sharing what you create.

I want you to think of scaling your ideas or projects. What I mean by this is when you imagine your life or you projects create in your mind a level of reach, a map of who it will touch. Think of who in your community can benefit from your efforts, then move past your own community into others…. There is the concept of leverage. How we can position an idea or product to reach the most people. With the internet this concept can mean the entire world can see what you are doing.

I say we change our life’s blue print, what we can do, more or less, is convince ourselves that all that other old crap just isn’t true for us. It may have been true for our ancestors, but in today’s world, there are virtually no excuses. We can create Scale in our lives that can only match the heavens. Even though I speak of scale of furnishings, smaller sofa in an apartment, when we are creating our lives, what if our life experience reached people all over the world. Tell yourself “yes” and “why not?” If the little voice in your mind starts to make excuses for why or how it will never work, shut it down, answer back,” You are the old Blueprint. I am working with the grandest Architect of all time, God, the universe, Allah (whoever resonates with you) and this Architect has other plans for me, the scale of this new blueprint is beyond what you will ever see.”

I want you to think of where you are sitting right now. Can you now imagine yourself sitting in a café in Paris? Whatever you are doing now, question if you can do it larger, can you reach more people? Can you simply start by reaching out to one person today, simply to say hello? This will widen your range of vision, we live in a shrinking world, the scale of your life is what you make it to be. Are you living an apartment size life or are you living a Burj Khalifa

Skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirate kind of life.

Principle of Proportion

            Proportion is closely related to scale and is usually expressed in terms of the size and relationship of parts to one another and to the whole. In design we deal with shape and form and dimensions. For example the relationship between the chairs seat, back and arms and how it as a whole relates to the tabletop and legs is very important to how well it fits our client and makes them comfortable. This is based on Ratio or the comparison of sizes; the table legs are not too wide or too narrow in comparison to the top in furniture terms. Forever humans have worked toward pleasing proportions and how determine them; Egyptians’ and later classical Greeks came to name this proportion “Golden Mean”. Golden Mean is a line that visually divides an object, wall, tie back- you name it, into two unequal but harmonious parts. This line falls between ½ and 1/3 say like chair or dado molding. Then there is Golden Section which refers to proportions of parts to one another and to the whole. So progressions 3 to 5 to 8 to 13 etc are good ratios and work for our eyes. This is translated into sides of rectangles so a table is 3 by 5 and this can be put into place in room size as well.  Say 12 by 20 (4 x 3 and 4x 5) these are the easiest rooms to place furnishings.

For some of you this sense of proportion will come more easily, but for the rest you can achieve the sense as well with more practice and studying the classic architecture and design as well as art. I don’t mean you necessarily have to go back to school. You can simply become more self aware when you visit a place that you instantly feel stimulated or intrigued. You can visit more museums, galleries, etc. become a part of the artist is your community. You will become more able to recognize the harmony in work and space based on use of scale and proportion over time. Just as you will practice using the design principles in your life, you will eventually see the abundance this practice can bring you

What are the proportions of your Life?

            When we speak to proportion in our lives, what is it we want to accomplish? As a design concept proportion works to create harmony. In life what I see and have experienced is there is an ebb and flow of things, events, people, energy, faith and money at times. When I speak to having proportion in your life or what is deserving of your focus, I speak to the idea of what portion of your life deserves to have the great half at this time. Being a mother, this seems to change every few years. When the kids were babies we were able to do so much more as adults. Now the kids are older and we spend our time at the soccer field. The proportion of my life now is wrapped more around my children and nurturing them. I like to say I’m raising adults, not children (I already married one of those, I’m trying not to do that to another person).

            There Fibonacci was a mathematician who created the  concept of the Golden Ruler or Divine Proportion. If you divide a ruler based on the Golden Rule and apply the lengths to living organisms you will find the measurements true over and over. They can be measured on the body, the nautilus shell, insects, and much more.  He used numbers and they have since been applied to nature as well as accounting. He recognized a pattern and created a system to recognize and detail numbers and objects that grow exponentially, like rabbits procreating. This is our goal, to create a system and recognize aspects in our life we would like to grow exponentially based on focus.

What I want to emphasize here is that what we are experiencing in our lives at this moment may be more weighted in one direction than another. But to achieve the balance through proportion, the other side must have some weight as well. Take time out now to evaluate what aspects of your life are taking up the focus, which sides are weighted to far beyond that Golden rule sort of balance or unbalance. Recognize that being well balanced does not always mean things are symmetrical.