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Elements of Design for VM Part 4: Space

Welcome to Part 4 of our Elements & Principles of Design Series where we will be discussing the Element ‘Space’ and looking at some beautiful examples of VM display which put it into practice.


Space is the breath of art.

– Frank Lloyd Wright


About Space:

Space is best described by looking at its two properties: positive space which is represented by an object’s solid position in a composition and negative space, which is represented by the open space around the shape. Without negative space none of your elements gets seen and they become noise.


How we use Space:

Space can be used to separate or connect elements in a composition. Wider spaces separate objects from each other and narrower spaces connect objects or reveal relationships between them. Overlapping objects maximizes their relationship. The negative space can help us to create groupings of items, create emphasis or improve legibility. It can also convey many different aesthetics such as luxury, solitude, cleanliness, calmness and many more. The negative space can be active or passive. When space is used symetrically in a design it creates a formal, passive effect. When negative space is assymetrically balanced it becomes active, dynamic and more interesting for the viewer.

1. Here the designer has creatively used positive and negative contrasting space in a monochromatic colour palette to both create an engaging display and demonstrate the many pieces which go into making a quality suit.

2. The negative black space forms the silhouette of a face and emphasises the bright red interior for an eyecatching effect.

3. A similar use of positive and negative space with window decals, but in this instance creating a calm, cohesive overall look for an assortment of products in a window.

4. The white space left around the blue backdrop emphasises the size and outlines of the animal cutouts that cobine with the mannequins to add a layered effect that draws the eye into and around the composition.

5. Letters in bright colours create a positive and negative spatial effect, revealing the objects behind and inviting the passerby to look through into the store.

6. The negative space tells the story in this clever window where what is left out as negative space creates the excitement of the display.

Stay tuned for Part 5 of our series where we will discuss the element ‘Light’.


In case you missed it here is:

Part 1: Introduction to the Elements and Principles of Design for VM

Part 2: Elements of Design: Line

Part 3: Elements of Design: Shape/Form

Keen to learn more about Visual Merchandising?

Check out our Visual Merchandising Training Courses.




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