Design In Everyday Life


Interior decoration is a creative art. Interior decoration and furnishing are too often considered as two separate subjects. This approach is not correct as they are two branches of same subject and should always be considered in relation to each other. Interior of the house should be such that it depict the personalities and tastes of the members of the family.

As we surround ourselves with beauty, art actually becomes a part of our life and personality. We are all of us consumers. Every time we make a purchase, we are consciously or unconsciously using our power to choose or select. Since art is involved in most of the objects seen and used everyday, one of the great needs of the consumer is a knowledge of the principles fundamental to good taste. According to Goldstein and Goldstein, Good taste, in the field of art, is the application of the principles of design to the problems in life where appearance as well as utility is a consideration. The art principles such as harmony and balance etc. are never static. They should be regarded as flexible guides to be used in producing a desired result. It is always said that good taste is doing unconsciously the right thing, at the right time. Good taste is a quality of inner soul and very few people are born with this rare gift. But, fortunately for all of us, good taste in art can be acquired by applying the principles of beauty.

Good taste include the selection and arrangement of all our belongings. For the sake of economy and beauty, it is important that every individual should understand and apply these principles of art. Beauty is determined not by the cost of our object but its quality and utility value. The value of an object or any article depends upon its suitability. It should be useful. For ex. furniture should be comfortable. It is also necessary that an object should be economical and beautiful. “A thing of beauty is the joy forever”, says Stella Soundararaj in her book, “A textbook of Household Arts”. She further adds that beauty is the element or quality which pleases the senses. Individuality is also a very important characteristics of any object. This is the quality which differentiates one object form the other. Each has its own characteristics. Thus, by combining use, economy, beauty, and individuality, one is able to create a unique effect of charm in the house.

In selection of furnitures, draperies, carpets, one should have a “good taste”. A house should be artistic in all aspects. Art and good taste should go together. Good taste has been described as “doing the right thing at the right time, in the right way”. Taste represents what one accepts or rejects – says Stepat de Van.

One can improve the appearance of one’s surroundings if one has proper judgment of design and color in furnishing the home. Taste is molded to a very large extent by the things which surround us; and the family taste is trained by the objects selected by the manager of the house. There are certain limitations also in our way and so our choices may have to represent a compromised due to certain limitations/factor; as the amount of money to be spent, and the likes and dislikes of the people who are going to live with the articles purchased. It is important that people enjoy their possessions and we study art mainly for the happiness it will bring into our lives; say Goldstein sisters in their book “Art in everyday life”.

Many times there are limitations to the expression of good taste.

  1. The likes and dislikes of people who are going to use the items.
  2. The availability of items because of certain economic or political upheavals or shortage of materials.
  3. The number and kind of items one has on hand.
  4. The prevailing fashions.

There must be a willingness and an interest. One must study, see, feel and evaluate his own reactions. No written material will explain design unless the student makes an effort to examine what is presented. We must recognize that our emotional make-up will have much to do with the light in which we view design. Whether  our interest in design, will be from the consumer’s or producer’s point of view, this is the beginning. Girard says, “The hope for good design lies in those designers who believe in what they do and who will only do what they believe”. We believe that the same is true for the consumer.

Are our selections made by what is popular, or do we have the nerve to select what is the best design for us? Beitler and Lockhart feel that with increased understanding of design we not only create a more functional environment but we can also develop a more satisfying environment for your spirit. When asked what went into a good design, a designer said, “it takes the eye, the hand, the brain and the heart!” Does it not follow that understanding of good design will also affect these same separate parts in an integrated pattern?

One of the last things that the late Walter Dorwin Teague wrote seems to sum up so well his design philosophy. (Beitler).

“Design is like a river that flows slowly. It makes no abrupt changes of direction but over the years its character gradually varies. It carries on its current many beautiful things out of the past which we still treasure even though we have no design to copy them today. We should hope that the things we do now will have similar values for the future”.

In short, it can be said that our taste is reflected in the things we select. Our training, understanding, and experiences, as well as our initiative sense, are responsible for molding our tastes.

All our acts of selection and arrangement are decisions in design. Whether it is in the painting of a picture, the carving of a piece of wood sculpture, the planting of a garden, or in the selection and arrangement of furnishings for a room, we are making a design decision. This decision involves our likes and dislikes, our human needs, and the application of the guideposts fir organization or the principles of design.


According to Stella Soundararaj, “Design is the backbone of graphic arts like metre and rhyme of poetry”. She further writes that, ‘design aids one’s aesthetic appreciation of objects’.

In the field of art, the term design can be interpreted broadly in a number of ways.

a)    Design may be a noun referring to a particular organization of elements for a special object of art. Thus we see that a structural design may be the organization of parts of the object itself such as a building, a chair, or a vase. Or the design may be a decorative pattern that results from the way in which the bricks are organized for the wall construction of the building, or the all over pattern woven into the upholstery fabric for the chair or the design scratched by the potter into the moist clay. A design may suit a utilitarian purpose but be sadly lacking in qualities that might give it beauty; or vice versa. The spout of a coffee pot may give it a quality of stateliness and grace, yet it may be very inconvenient because the top keeps falling off when it is tilted for pouring.

b)    Design may be a verb referring to the act of designing, selecting and arranging of those selections for a particular purpose. As with the noun, the purpose may be a utilitarian one, such as planning the height of a lamp and the width of the shade to give a wide enough spread of light for use in reading. It may be the selection of component parts assembled in a wall storage system. The individual finds that he needs open shelves for books, vertical dividers for partitions, drawers for some items that need to be stored out of sight and a flip-down desk area for occasional writing purposes.

The purpose may be an aesthetic one, such as planning the height of a lamp and the width of the shade to give a sense of pleasing proportions in relation to the table on which the lamp is placed and the chair beside it.

Each design is a definite act which should represent creative thinking. Where we are designing or creating a design, we assemble lines, shapes, or forms, textures, and colors in a space. These, then, are referred to as the elements of design. They are the tools and materials with which everyone makes a design.


  1. 1.    Stella Sounderaraj –

Design is defined as any arrangement of line, form, color, space, value and texture.

  1. 2.    Goldstein Harriet and Goldstein Vetta –

Design is the selecting and arranging of materials, with two aims, order and beauty.

  1. 3.    Dorothy Stepat de Van –

The term design is used in many ways to convey different meanings. We might speak of design of an ashtray or the design of a city. In a board sense, the word implies selection and organization for some specific purpose or intention.

According to the author definition of design is as follows.

Design is a beautiful and orderly arrangement of one or all art elements line, shape, size, form, color, texture which is done with specific purpose.

The designer selects and arranges these elements to suit his purpose; which might be to create something that is purely functional, purely ornamental or both functional and beautiful. In any contemporary design functionalism is an important factor.

It would be difficult to compile a list of examples of perfect designs, including buildings, paintings, sculptures, textiles and ceramics that would be acceptable to all art connoisseurs and critics.

Many times, generalizations regarding design invite nothing but disagreement. This does not imply that all art is good but who is bad? By which criteria can we judge what art forms we like or dislike? There is a basic truth in something that is really beautiful, but we must develop our own powers of observation and discrimination to appreciate the message that the artist is attempting to convey.

We are becoming more aware of the importance of design in all phases of our daily life. Automobiles, typewriters, fax machines, telephones as well kitchen appliances and numerous other articles have undergone radical changes in the past few years.


Traditional category refers to designs that have come from past generations. These designs are original and exact reproduction of nature. The natural things have assumed their forms as a result of processes started in the infinite past which will continue till the existence of earth. So they contain in themselves past, present and future at once. These take place according to natural laws which teach one that natural designs are never arbitrary but always meaningful. All oriental arts generally, and Indian art particularly, have been influenced and shaped by the religious beliefs. The Hindus believed in the doctrine of Advaitya, non-duality or Monotheism. This also implied that there was no differentiation of interior and exterior. Hence, you find that the interiors and exteriors are taken as one and designing and ornamentation and decoration in both the spaces is equally elaborate. Indian interior design whether Hindu, Muslim, Jain or Buddhist, was deeply religious in its spirit and outwardness. Every structure or interior was full of sculpture or reliefs of Gods and Goddesses, their symbols, bells lotuses, sacred trees and mythological figures. Another feature was the use of natural and locally available materials for use in the interior. For ex. : around Rajasthan, marble was used, then as cream and red sandstone around Agra and Delhi was available.

Here is a traditional Indian interior. The setting is also traditional. The interior has the entrance parlour on the right while the left gives entrance to inner rooms. The background has the ‘Aangan’, the open courtyard to allow in air and light, while the foreground has ‘Chaubaara’, an inner open space to be made use of particularly during the summer ‘Satranji’, (Floor-spread) covers the floor, simple elegance has been achieved in this picture.


This represents a new style which has broken all ties with previous designs. New and unusual proportions, dark lines, free form shapes and modern materials make this a style that bears no suggestion of past heritage. The modern style of design has been developing since the early past of the twentieth century. The modern design at resent has reached a high level of true artistic application and continues to develop artistic refinement. Certain designs tend to express formality, while others have a natural informality or casualness. The more familiar we become with any type of decoration, the more aware we will also become of how it can be used, or not use, for expression of formality, informality, comfort, gracefulness, elegance, simplicity.

Traditional designs have withstood the time test. The styles that are most popular today have been here for many years. They have grown, developed and have reached the ultimate in proving their worth. They have shown that they are easy to live with and that they are not likely to become boring because they are no longer fashionable. In furnishings a truly good design is always in fashion. Living with traditional designs gives one a certain sense of security, modern designs and modern styles are more stimulating and exciting. Because modern designs have grown up with us, they are probably more closely keyed to our requirements in modern living. Every year new developments, new ideas, new advances in technology threaten the current modern design and styles. If you select modern, you must be sure that it is good basic design.

While combining both these styles together, lines, proportion, colors and textures must be considered. Designs are more likely to blend well if they express similar ideas or if they have a common spirit. Within recent years, many interior designers who have experimented with such unusual combinations have produced such effects. However, the total design must have lasting qualities.


A good structural design could be made more beautiful by decoration. A good design added to enhance the beauty of an article is called ‘decorative design’. The decorative design provides the surface enrichment of a structural design for the purpose of adding a richer quality to it constitutes its decorative design.

Beauty is one of the objectives of design. If a design is to give maximum amount of satisfaction it should not only be beautiful, but should have style and utility. The importance of combining utility with beauty should be emphasized in any structural or decorative design. For example, a chair may be very attractive and beautiful with pleasing decorations and graceful curves. But in actual use it may be uncomfortable to sit on, or it may not have a good support for the back. Despite the chair being beautiful its design is poor since it is not functional.

Almost every man and woman has some natural ability to recognize beauty and suitability in house and their furnishings. The appearance of the home should be worthy of its high purpose, to provide a place for the promotion of all round growth and development of the family.

Beauty is not the only objective in any design. In addition it should be expressive of the personality of the designer and most important of all it should function effectively.

The ultimate goal to be attained in any design is the successful integration of the three objectives beauty, expressiveness and functionalism. The word ‘beauty’ is used to describe all the well-designed and pleasing things. It is such a precious quality which is rarely obtainable. One simple definition of beauty is, “that combination of qualities that is pleasing to the trained eye or ear”, says Anna Rutt.

The philosophy of beauty is known as esthetics. The knowledge of art elements and art principles enables us to distinguish between beauty and mere fashion.


One way to approach the subject of selecting, decorating, furnishing a home is to seek to express some definite idea or theme in it. Similar terms are more often used than expressiveness such as the character of home or design or personality of home or any design. The word expressiveness is preferable because it implies the power to excite emotional response that is lacking in the word character, and it avoids the suggestion of human attributes which is contained in the word personality; says Anna Rutt in her book, ‘Home furnishing’. Talbot F. Hamlin uses the word expressiveness in regard to exteriors and interiors of houses in his book ‘The Enjoyment of Architecture’. He says, “All good architecture should have this gift of expressiveness. Every building, every well-designed room, should carry in itself at least one message of cheer or rest or power”.

The following are some of the ideas that are expressed in homes; consciously or unconsciously; response, naturalness, sophistication, intimacy, formality, warmth, coolness, strength, delicacy etc. Honesty and sincerity are expressed in the avoidance of dishonest things like imitation fireplaces, false flues, imitation coal or logs, imitation wood, stone, plaster etc.

The typical themes which are expressed in homes are formality, informality, naturalness and modernism.


A design that expresses formality usually also expressed dignity, strength, impressiveness. In an interior of a home formality results from symmetry and also from conservative color. The furniture is usually traditional in style and arranged with formal balance.


Friendly hospitality, intimate charm are expressed through various means. Bright warm colors, simple furniture have these characteristics. Houses express informality through modest size, asymmetrical balance, broken lines etc.


Among the factors that contribute to the attainment of the natural effect are the use of nature materials and native styles, hardwork showing natural irregularities, direct treatment, inexpensive materials and primitive colors. The meaning of the word primitive as it is used in interior decorating today should be explained. Dictionary meaning of primitive is “simple or crude, old fashioned, characterized by the style of early times”. Crude means “in a natural state”, unrefined, unpolished, showing lack of skill in workmanship.

Articles of primitive and peasant construction in nowadays preferred because such products usually have realness. The contrast between the beauty in the primitive textiles in museums and the lack of it in many of the textiles for sale in the shops today is surprising. The average house manager is usually interested in simplicity and realness of this type of furnishing which are expressive of their own ideas.


The modern designs express the spirit of machine age. Speed and directness are expressed by stripping off all non-essentials in design. The families that choose modern furnishings are usually young; courageous and logical. The personality of the owner determines the idea to be expressed in a home. Although some young people have very definite preferences for a particular style and know exactly what they want, others are somewhat more vague about their ideas. Often they find that several themes are appealing and that it is difficult to select those that will blend well.


Design should be such that it gives maximum service, comfort and pleasure for the minimum of care. Every phase of home planning and furnishing should be based on function. The number of rooms and their arrangement depend upon what will best serve the family. Outdoor areas too are divided according to function with places to lounge, eat, play, exercise and garden. Furniture is arranged in functional groups for study, reading, conversation, writing and music. The selection of individual articles should be governed by a critical judgment of how will they fulfill their functions. The right shape for any article is the one that will function best. Louis Sullivan stated it, designers have used the slogan : form follows function. Materials too should follow function. Garden furniture should be waterproof, upholstery fabrics should be durable. The home that does not permit its occupants to find peace, comfort and relaxation is not functioning well. Functional planning refers to the designing of house plans that are based on function. When the plan is completed and integrated functionally a suitable exterior design is found or preferably created to suit it.


Interior decoration is a creative art. As we surround ourselves with beauty, art becomes a part of our life and personality. Since art is involved in most of the objects seen and used everyday, one of the great needs of the consumer is a knowledge of the principles fundamental to good taste. Good taste include the selection and arrangement of all our belongings. Many times there are limitations to the expression of good taste viz : likes and dislikes, availability of items, number of items at hand, fashion.

Design is a beautiful and orderly arrangement of one or all art elements, which is done with specific purpose. In Traditional design naturalistic forms are used while in modern design combination of art principles is used ex. abstract form. Beauty functionalism and expressiveness are the objectives of good design.


1. Give importance of Good Taste.

2. Define and explain the term Design.

3. Define Design. What are the objectives of design?

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