Storytelling is an essential part of the human experience, and the profession of interior design is no different. The interior design of your home tells your personal story: it’s a reflection of you, your values and personality, your lifestyle.
But great interior design has something else about it: it has narrative and coherence and beauty. And, in this, interior design has some interesting parallels with music, another highly creative endeavour.
Both interior design and music involve balancing design/form and function. In interior design, this means you want a space (eg, the kitchen) that does what it’s supposed to do (ie, make it easy for you to cook) while looking clean and modern. In music, our vote always goes to music that is both melodious and meaningful.
Both interior design and music stress an element called rhythm. We usually hear about rhythm in music (where it means the beat of a song, ie the movement or variation you get from regular, recurring sounds, musical notes or words). However, it also occurs in interior design where it entails creating a pattern, of something identical and something different, to make a space more interesting. This is usually done by repeating a colour or shape (motif) that the eye can detect.
Both emphasise harmony. Harmony is when the elements of a whole come together in a pleasing combination. In interior design, harmony can be achieved by using a single colour or complementary colours across the various design elements in the space under consideration. In music, harmony refers to the science of the “structure, relation, and progression of chords”, and occurs when two notes are heard at or around the same time. (This is just one definition, the simplest I could find.) Rhythm and harmony work oppositely: rhythm creates excitement while harmony evokes a sense of peacefulness.
We really shouldn’t be surprised to see similarities between art, design, and music. No less a person than Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German polymath, said that “Music is liquid architecture; architecture is frozen music”. To this we can perhaps add “Design is music in 3D space”.