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Principles of Design for VM Part 10: Dominance/Emphasis

Welcome to Part 10 of our Elements and Principles of Design for Visual Merchandising series where we will introduce you to the design principles ‘Dominance/Emphasis’.

False eloquence is exaggeration; true eloquence is emphasis.

– William R. Alger

About Dominance/Emphasis:

Something is recognised as being dominant if it has greater emphasis within a setting a setting or composition. Emphasis, in turn, is defined as the intensity that something has or the stress placed upon something so that it is given importance or significance. The element that is dominant will draw attention to itself and emerge from the other parts of a composition. It can create the centre of interest within a display or window that causes the eye to return again and again.



How we use Dominance/Emphasis:

The way we place the design elements can give dominance to one if placed so that it:

  • contrasts others by size
  • is distinct from the background
  • has a distinct form or character
  • is isolated from the rest
  • is part of a group within a field of isolated elements
  • is located at the end of a directional line or the focus of a symmetrical arrangemenet.

One way of achieving emphasis is by creating a focal point which is the point that catches the focus of the viewer’s attention. The focal point may be the largest, brightest, darkest, or most complex part of the whole, or it may get special attention because it stands out for some other reason. No more than one component should vie for primary attention. Where several components get equal billing, emphasis is canceled out.

1. The fan blowing air into this dress, causing it to balloon, emphasises the floating, ethereal quality of this high end garment.
2. The directional lines of the woven wall finish lead the eye to the focal point with a bright shot of blue colour creating a bold visual exclamation point.
3. The rich red colour of this draped fabric dominates the composition, leading the eye throughout the window as it falls to the floor.

4. The bright colours and patterns of these flowers could overpower the composition, but using only a single item in the entire window serves to emphasise the prestige of the product.

5. The bold black and white stripes dominate this window display but the vibrant yellow outshines even these, creating a focal point for the mannequin.

6. The natural headpieces of these mannequins dominate two thirds of this entire window to dramatic effect.


Coming up next in Part 11 of our Design Principles series we will be discussing ‘contrast’ – don’t miss out!


Catch up on our previous instalments:

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

Part 4: Elements of Design: Space

Part 5: Elements of Design: Light

Part 6: Elements of Design: Colour

Part 7: Elements of Design: Texture

Part 8: Elements of Design: Scale

Part 9: Principles of Design: Balance

Love to learn more about Visual Merchandising?

Check out our Visual Merchandising Training Courses.




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