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Principles of Design for VM Part 9: Balance

Welcome to Part 9 of our Elements and Principles of Design for Visual Merchandising series where we will introduce you to the first of our design principles ‘balance’.

It’s all in how you arrange the thing… the careful balance of the design is the motion.

– Andrew Wyeth

About Balance:

Balance can best be described as a feeling of equality of weight, attention, or attraction of the various elements within the composition as a means of accomplishing unity. Balance provides stability and structure to a design. It’s the weight distributed in the design by the placement of your elements. There are two forms of visual balance. These are symmetrical balance, also known as symmetry or formal balance, and asymmetrical balance, also known as asymmetry or informal balance. When components are balanced left and right of a central axis they are balanced horizontally. When they are balanced above and below they are said to be balanced vertically. And when components are distributed around the center point, or spring out from a central line, this is referred to as radial balance.

How we use balance:

In visual balance, each element of the design suggests a certain visual weight, a degree of lightness or heaviness. For example, light colors appear lighter in weight than dark colors or bright colors visually weigh more than neutral colors in the same areas. Balance is not achieved through an actual physical weighing process, but through visual judgment on the part of the observer. To balance a composition is to distribute its parts in such a way that the viewer is satisfied that the piece is not about to pull itself over.

1. This composition is horizontally balanced despite having two mannequins on one side and a single mannequin on the other by arranging the size of the props to mimic the mannequins and by mirroring the styling of the light shirt with dark jacket.

2. This window harnesses vertical balance with the black hand silhouettes spreading evenly on either side of a central line.

3. The designer has mirrored the mannequins dressed in black with towers of black books to balance this display visually.

4. The mannequins in this grouping have been arranged asymmetrically to soften the overall look, but the colour and placement of the large rose props creates visual balance.

5. This is a perfect example of a symmetrically balanced window where the structured arrangement of objects creates a sense of order and precision.

6. This window provokes an atmosphere of calmness and serenity by balancing the elements on a symmetrical axis.

If you enjoyed this installment in our Design Principles series stay tuned for Part 10: Dominance/Emphasis.

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

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