10.17.2011

Vignettes: Rules to Cultivate By

Today we are further discussing interior vignettes. Staging beautiful interior vignettes is an art form in itself. Careful consideration must go into the culmination and combination of the colors, textures, patterns, and objects present or it will merely come across as a "pile" of random objects instead of a cultivated visual masterpiece. The key and single most important ingredient to staging an aesthetically attuned vignette is masterful layering {as discussed previously here}which is something that is mastered with aesthetic training, design sensitivity, and practice- it takes a lot of effort to make something look effortlessly placed. However, here are some helpful tips to assist you in your voyage to vignette va-va voom:

1. Dimensional Stacking- stacking books and boxes atop one another creates visual height and "pedestals" upon which you can place other intriguing objects. Don't be afraid to stack and "layer" objects on top of objects or partially cover up elements of your vignette. This is what creates depth and visual interest. It is not so much about having every item completely exposed here so consider each item in your vignette to be a design element focusing on color, size, shape, proportion, pattern, etc. rather than limiting yourself by the actual use of the object such as "book" or "frame." So, prop small picture frames against your book stack, place beautiful agate stones on top of your boxes, and position sculptural objects in front of your frames...allow yourself the freedom to curate. 
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2. Books- When stacking books don't merely pay attention to size with the intention of creating a tall "stack." The books you select become an integral part of your vignette so be sure to also select ones that have beautiful spines (or covers if they happen to be on top), interesting title fonts, unique topics, or coordinating coloration. The spines will create a vertical "pattern," if you will, so it is essential to consider the effect they will have when placed together.

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3. Artwork-  Vignettes are not limited to piles and groupings of various chotskies. Small frames of interesting photography or prints also create interesting and highly sophisticated vignettes. Due to scale, I believe that abstract prints work best in vignette scapes so the emphasis should be placed on artwork that conveys dramatic and impactful "wow" at a small scale. Focus on movement and color and, again, don't be afraid to overlap and layer pieces. The artwork doesn't have to be hung on the wall, in fact, the most successful vignettes simply prop the frames against the wall or other objects. As we discussed in our gallery wall post {here} variation of mat size and frame style only further adds to the visual interest.   

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4. Simple Touches- Vignettes range in scale from fully staged bookcases to small corners of desks. Regardless of size, it is still important to consider the visual elements when staging small vignettes. Carefully placed bud vases, and favorite pieces of jewelry or clutches propped against some favorite reads and a small artwork print add the perfect "lived in" touch (not to mention constant inspiration) to any workspace or vanity. Switch out these small accents often with whatever object happens to be inspiring you.

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5. Living Accents- Whether it be a bowl of fruit, a grouping of succulents, or a small vase of dahlias adding a "live" element to your vignette adds a new dimension of vitality into the mix. Switching these live accents out as they "fade" allows for continuous change to the vignette. These add an organic element to your grouping of solid and stoid objects, not to mention plenty of accent color and fragrance.

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6. Color Staging- As I've already stated, when grouping vignette items it is important to forgo awareness of their practical and intended use and instead focus on the composition such as color, pattern, texture, etc. A key to successful and visually coherent vignettes is to cultivate items of like color pallets. This can either be all white or neutral or of a color combination of your choosing, but combining objects in a limited range of hues allows your vignette to look intentional and "put together" instead of like a bunch of random items thrown on a shelf. Use the color of your selected objects to set the tone for the atmospheric message you intend to send with your vignette.

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7. Illumination- When your vignette requires illumination, such as a hallway console or end table, it is important to remember that the light fixture you select becomes a part of the vignette "stage." Select lamps, candles, etc. that coordinate with the style of your vignette objects and that will add a pop of color, a hint of sparkle, an interesting texture or a sculptural element to the vignette. Also remember that incorporating mirrors or mirrored/shiny objects into your "scene" helps to further expand the effect of the illuminating element.

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8. Organized Chaos- Vignettes are stages to display personal objects and items that expose various aspects about your interests and personality. There is no rhyme or reason to their cultivation and they are interpreted differently with each and every person and each and every space. Your objects do not have to be intentionally aligned and organized to create an effective display. Items can be "haphazardly" placed and grouped for a more casual feel but remember, again, the key to keeping it organized and not visually cluttering is to incorporate items of a like color pallet. This keeps the "mess" looking intentional rather than sloppy.

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What's in your vignette?

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