Design Principles from the Barcelona Chair: Contrast

Contrast is one of the most effective resources used by Interior Design.

Contrast breaks with monotony. It creates effect and it has several dimensions. 

Contrast is about tension. But a type of tension that works to make you feel good. 

You create contrast in Interior Design by placing very opposite elements one next to the other. This creates a visual tension that results creative and rich, but this is something that has to be handled with measure and balance. 


Nowadays, almost every trend in interior design make use of contrast in a more or less intense way. A whole monochromatic space is very uncommon. Even in Scandinavian design, which it has the purest preference for clear, simple walls and floors, tend to rely in wood and some fabrics to create the necessary contrast. 


Contrast by color


Color is the basic way of contrast. Each and every space requires of contrast in the color level. Indeed, the 60-30-10 Rule is a resource to manage color contrast, where 60 and 30 belongs to a main color and adjacent matches. The 10 % turns to be the contrast element. That show us how carefully this has to be measured.  That only has to do with distribution; but contrast has to do with color itself, too, because, you just can’t choose just any color to make contrast. The right contrast element comes from the indication of our color wheel, that show us in a mathematical way the direct opposite of our color, or two complements equally graded. 


Nevertheless, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes, there are matches or pairings that challenge our convictions with beauty and make us think, just like it happens with  some astonishing images of mother nature.


But contrast is not only a pure visual category. You can create contrast using colors, shapes, lights and textures. 

Contrast by shape

Shapes are another tool for contrast. In a living room, a set made of only squared pieces may result boring: A squared sofa, squared chair, with squared table lead us to monotony the same way it happens with color.  A living room with a set up of LC Sofa and LC Chairs, for example, may benefit of a Tulip Table (Rounded). It may happens equally in the opposite way. 


Contrast by light


An interesting game of color, shadow and light occurs between the relationship of light and furniture. Given a dark room, either because the natural entry of light is reduced, or because the main color in the walls and decor is dark. In this case, a small, solid object of a clear, white color, will help you to create a clear spot, to attract some light y make a healthy contrast. It may happen the other way around, with a pristine white room and the need of some solid, dark piece, like, let’s say a Barcelona Ottoman. 


Contrast by texture


A contrast by texture is required when is monotonous or overwhelming the presence of one material or fabric in one space. Leather lovers will always enjoy their leather sofas, leather chairs, leather Ottomans…but is really that necessary that everything has to be in leather? In a set up for a Living room, is convenient to make a space for an accent chair, for example, to break with the current pattern and bring something new. For example, in a living room with prevalence of leather (Barcelona Sofa and Barcelona Chair), the irruption of a wood chair is perfect, with a Hans Wegner Shell Chair, for example. 


Go to Barcelona Design to get  the best advice and information about Mid Century Modern style furniture, and master pieces of design like the Barcelona Chair or the Hans Wegner Shell Chair