By Sherrill Whiton. Before proceeding upon a specific study of the art of interior decoration, it will be advantageous to investigate the part that this art plays in life, to analyze its influence upon the individual and the possibility of its contributing to the general happiness of mankind. It will also be advisable to have a mental perspective of the art as a whole, and finally to learn the common terms that must be used in its study. There are three necessities for human existence: food, clothing, and protection against the elements of nature.
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By Sherrill Whiton. Before proceeding upon a specific study of the art of interior decoration, it will be advantageous to investigate the part that this art plays in life, to analyze its influence upon the individual and the possibility of its contributing to the general happiness of mankind.
It will also be advisable to have a mental perspective of the art as a whole, and finally to learn the common terms that must be used in its study.
There are three necessities for human existence: food, clothing, and protection against the elements of nature. To fulfill the last requirement, civilized man constructs an artificial enclosure, called a house, to protect him from variations of temperature, climate, and weather, and to give him the privacy and conveniences required for family life. Aboriginal man was satisfied with a cave dwelling; but long before history began, there is evidence that some form of artificial shelter or enclosure was constructed that fulfilled the necessities of the primitive human being.
As civilization slowly improved, simple features that contributed to physical comforts and conveniences were added, and still later, elements were introduced that had visual appeal. The final development in the treatment of the house occurred when elements were introduced that had intellectual or psychological appeal. The art of interior decoration was unconsciously conceived when the first element of comfort and convenience was introduced in a dwelling. In the highly developed civilization of today, however, the interpretation of the term interior decoration implies that it is an art pertaining to the interior design of houses, contributing to the physical, visual, and intellectual comforts and joys of mankind; and it is self-evident that the work of an interior designer must in all cases fulfill these three requirements.
The dictionaries have been very meager in their definitions of the term interior decoration. Many of them state that a decorator is one who decorates ; others state that a decorator is an ornamental painter, scene painter, wood grainer or a tradesman who paints and papers houses. During a recent legal proceeding, a certain decorator was asked by a judge to explain her services.
Her calm reply electrified the courtroom, when she said, To create beauty ; and no three words could have been a better answer. The American Institute of Decorators has given the following definition: An interior decorator is one who through training and professional experience is skilled in the solution of problems related to the design and execution of interiors of buildings or other structures and their furnishing, and qualified to supervise the arts and crafts employed in the production and installation of decorative and practical details necessary to consummate a planned result.
Of late years the term interior designer has often been substituted for interior decorator and perhaps the former is more comprehensive in meaning, considering the added duties and obligations that are now undertaken by those who are called upon to plan, furnish, and equip the interior of buildings.
The study of interior decoration. The study of interior decoration may be compared to the study of a foreign language. There is a vocabulary and a grammar to learn before one can adequately express oneself.
The vocabulary consists of a thorough knowledge of the materials of decoration, whether they be colors, textures, or shapes, of wood, cloth, metal, masonry, or other products. One must develop a connoisseurship of quality and form in these individual materials or manufactured objects and a thorough understanding of their physical and structural possibilities and limitations.
The grammar consists of empirical principles and formulas for composing, arranging, assembling, or designing the various materials of decoration to produce a unified composition and a desired efficient, esthetic, and psychological effect. In addition to this knowledge of the vocabulary and grammar of decorating, the artist-decorator must, by his observation and training, comprehend the trends of style and fashion; instinctively appreciate the best standards of taste; and have the creative mental qualities that generate imagination and individuality in his work.
It is hardly conceivable that an embryo author could acquire a good literary style without studying the literature of the past; nor could a hospital intern hope to develop up-to-date surgical ability without a most careful investigation of the records of successes and failures of generations of his predecessors. With like reasoning, it must be admitted that an artist should study the art of the past to learn what has already been tried and to use past experience as a foundation upon which to build and create.
An understanding of past efforts does not necessarily imply duplication or imitation in future work; but the basic principles that are unchanging and that have existed since the beginning of time are best learned by studying the work of predecessors.
For that reason a study of so-called period art is essential to the decorator no matter how modern he may desire to be. The roots of the decorative arts are all based on the parent stem of architecture, and as each architectural style has inherited some of the principles or characteristics of its predecessors, it becomes essential for the student of decoration to comprehend the original forces of the architectural expressions. Forms, originating in most cases for structural requirements, often were transformed into decorative elements.
Exterior features were transferred to the interior, and in the case of the classic styles form the inspiration of all decoration in Europe from the 15th century to the 20th century. Sculpture, painting, textiles, wallpapers, furniture, metalwork, and ceramics are merely the natural offspring of architectural evolution and design. It therefore becomes essential in the opening chapters of this book to give a brief outline of the basic architectural styles.
The influence of structure in interior decoration. Many of the most important forms used in interior decoration originated in elementary structures, and although an extensive knowledge of structural principles is not necessary to a decorator, it is advisable for him to study the origin of the most important forms in order to have a logical understanding of their use and to become accustomed to the simple terms associated with them.
Roof forms. The simplest type of house is a single room, a boxlike enclosure formed by walls rising from a platform and covered at the top by a roof. The walls, situated some distance apart, must be spanned by a structural feature which will support the roofing material. There are three types of support for roofs and ceilings: the beam, the arch, and the truss.
The beam or lintel is a long piece of wood, stone, steel, or other material that must rest on two supports. The beam should be strong enough to span between the two supporting points without sagging, and if the roof is heavy, a sufficient number of beams must be introduced so that only a small part of the roof is supported by each beam. The visible portion of the beams and the underside of the roofing material then become the ceiling of the room, or the structural elements may be covered with plaster or some other material which in turn is called the ceiling.
Sectional drawings showing the three types of roof or ceiling construction: beam, truss, and arch. The arched roof may be made in stone, brick, cement, or other masonry, and supports itself by its shape and by the laws of gravity. Each side of an arch rises from the top of a side wall in a curve and meets the curve from the other wall in the center. The curve may be semicircular, in which case the roof is called a barrel vault; it may be a smaller portion of a circle known as a segmental arch; or it may assume some other type of curved form.
The truss is used when the supports or walls are placed so far apart that a beam of sufficient length or strength is not obtainable to span the whole distance. In this case a triangle is made with three beams.
Two beams are placed on a slant and meet in the middle. They are tied together at their lower ends by means of a long, slender beam known as a tie-beam , upon which no weight rests. The tie-beam is in tension only. The triangular truss form of roof support was first adopted for small structures by early Greek builders, and when the roofing material was added, it followed the slanting lines of the trusses and served to shed the rainwater.
The large Greek temples used a slanting roof that was supported by interior stone supports instead of wooden trusses. Pediment forms. In Grecian architecture the slanting exterior ends of slanted roof buildings were ornamented with moldings and sculpture. These features are today known as pediments. In subsequent art periods, variations in pediments were introduced, and some of the forms became purely ornamental. Triangular, segmental, broken , and scroll pediments are the most common types.
The origin of the column. It is not necessary that a roof should be entirely supported by a wall. Isolated supports may be introduced and placed at intervals. The earliest simple type of isolated support was the round wooden post or tree trunk. Later, isolated supports were made in stone for greater permanence. In the early civilizations of Egypt and Greece much thought was given to the study of the proportions, moldings, lines, curves, and ornamentation of the stone post.
A post of this type is called a column. When applied to a wall as a decorative feature and made flat rather than round in plan, the column is called a pilaster. The moldings and ornament placed at its top are known as the capital , and a block and additional moldings placed at the bottom are called the base. Classification of curves. Curved lines are of three different types, and may generally be classified into mechanical, mathematical, and free forms.
The mechanical curve is that made by means of a compass and consists of any part or all of a circle. The half circle which is often used as the form of an arch is called a semicircular curve. One that is less than a half circle is called a segmental curve.
The spring-point of a curve is the point where a curve starts. In a semicircular arched opening, the sides are usually straight up to a certain point where the arch commences.
A line connecting these two points on opposite sides of the arch is called the spring-line. The mechanical curves were used in Roman design. The mathematical curves are those taken from the conic sections known as the ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola, and such curves as the spiral and helix.
In all of these the degree of curvature varies in the length of the curve. The ellipse is roughly an egg-shaped enclosure, the circumference of which may also be drawn mechanically.
The half ellipse or semi-ellipse is often used for an arch or ornamental form. The parabola and hyperbola are somewhat similar to each other in appearance.
They start with a rather sharp coil and gradually straighten out as they progress, approaching a straight line but never actually becoming one. The spiral is frequently seen in ornament. These curves are extremely graceful in appearance and were used in Greek design. It was used for ornamental forms in the styles of art known as the Rococo , particularly during the 18th century in Italy, Spain, France, and England. Many curved forms used in decoration are combinations of these types.
A mechanical S-curve may be produced by two segmental curves meeting at a point of tangency. Each part may have a different radius, so that one half has a sharper degree of curvature than the other half. Parabolic curves may be carried to a certain point and then changed to a straight line.
Other combinations are also possible, but compound curves should always meet at a point of tangency and never appear broken at their intersection. Arch forms. There are many different types of arch forms used in architecture and decoration. Most of them are associated with particular styles of art and they will be taken up under the various chapters on the periods.
It is advisable, however, to learn the names of the commonest types, which are shown in the illustration on page 9. Structural arches are used for doors, windows, niches , and other wall openings, and ornamental arches are used in furniture and decorative design generally.
The period styles. Since the beginning of civilization, each race—and later each nation or subdivision thereof—has produced a type of art that has suited its requirements and has at the same time expressed its characteristics.
This makes it possible through careful study of the arts of peoples to learn their customs and habits and even to know their thoughts. The term period style refers to the generally recognizable trends or characteristics of a fine or utilitarian art produced by one such group during a specific time.
In the periods of antiquity the styles were produced with little conscious effort but by logical and natural methods.
Elements of Interior Design and Decoration
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Elements Interior Decoration by Sherrill Whiton
Elements Of Interior Design And Decoration