At NYIAD we teach our students a simple Three-Step Method for designing every room they create:
- A successful room is functional.
- A successful room expresses a mood.
- A successful room exhibits a sense of harmony.
This simple Three-Step Method is the secret of every interior ever designed. We teach our interior design students to consider these three steps every time they look at a room. You'll find the great home decorating ideas in our Room of the Month series as well as in the design tips on this site helpful in creating outstanding room designs.
When our students mail in their interior design project for analysis by their instructor, the instructor starts by commenting on these three Guidelines. Of course, the instructor analyzes other elements of the project too – decor, layout, furniture, style etc. But the key to good decor – and the essential element of every great interior design – is adherence to these three NYIAD Guidelines.
How do they work? How can you apply them? It's beyond the scope of this Web site to teach you every nuance, but you will get an inkling from the Room of the Month Analysis that follows.
Each month Designer Monthly takes a look at a room, analyzing how it works. It's a way of breaking down the elements of design in order to see how a designer put together a fabulous look, in hopes of learning how we can translate that to our own homes or the spaces of our clients.
We look at the room using the NYIAD Guidelines to Interior Design: function, mood, and harmony.
While we often look at residential spaces, this month, in honor of our Special Issue on weddings, we'll be analyzing a wedding reception. This wedding was styled by Always A Bridesmaid, one of New York's leading bridal consulting outfits; the theme of the wedding was “In the Mood for Love,” modeled on a Chinese film by the same name.
In planning a wedding or other big event, the location is one of the first elements to put in place, as everything else will have to fit into the space; you'll want to choose the flowers, for example, that best suit the space. Also, generally speaking, venues for events book up further in advance than florists, photographers, and bands.
This wedding and reception took place at Studio 450, an events space in mid-town Manhattan known for its fabulous views. It's also a space that can be transformed to suit just about any style, so wedding planners can have free reign in designing the room to suit each couple's tastes. The 4,000-square foot wraparound terrace adds to the feeling of limitless space and light.
Looking first at mood, what's been created here is a mood of spring-time freshness, with a Chinese flair. The towering branches of flowering quince blossoms set this mood, creating an illusion of gentle spring breezes. The Chinese lanterns hanging along the windows further emphasize this mood.
When decorating an events room, you need to beware of emphasizing one look too much; you don't want the guests to feel as if they're on the stage set for Madame Butterfly; you just want a feeling of Asia in springtime. This is created with the departure from the quince blossoms in the table flowers. The choice of yellow calla lilies and individual orchid blossoms on the dinner napkins continues the springtime mood without over-playing the Chinese theme.
The cake is always an important consideration. Here, again, the designers opted for something spring-like with a bit of contemporary Chinese style, a pastel-striped cake decorated with stylized flower blossoms.
A wedding room and reception hall must serve several functions in order to do its job. One of the functions is actually creating the mood; here, the entrance to the ceremony room, flanked by two large stands of quince blossoms, sets the mood as soon as the guests walk in.
A wedding room must provide seating for the guests and an altar for the ceremony; most couples will want a central aisle leading to the altar, wide enough for the bridesmaids to walk with their escorts.
For the reception, the tables, of course, have to seat the guests comfortably, with enough space between tables for the bride and groom to circulate during the meal. And there must be a prominent place for the wedding cake to be displayed, so that guests can have a clear view of the couple when they cut the cake. Here, the lightshow splatters stylized flowers against the wall behind the couple, furthering the mood.
Finally, there must be room for music and dancing. This wedding was not only Chinese, but was also Jewish, so there had to be enough room for the traditional wedding chair dance.
The harmony of a wedding hall is crucial. Here, we see a terrific level of harmony is achieved because close attention was paid to color. Using the pink of the quince blossoms as a base, the rest of the colors quickly fell into place, with yellow and green emphasizing the springtime mood. The yellow of the calla lilies in the table arrangements and the lanterns created the second-most predominant color. The green appears in the flower stems and in the orchids scattered around the cake and placed at each table setting.
The pink is emphasized with the wash of pink light at the altar and on the wall behind the cake. The cake itself picks up all three of the wedding's colors, creating a tower of pastels.
The design here is further harmonized because every detail is either essentially Chinese or goes seamlessly with Chinese style. For example, the yellow escort cards, hanging from the quince branches have an Asian look. And the gift boxes for the guests are decorated with elegant wooden chopsticks. The tea lights scattered about aren't necessarily of Chinese origin, but they don't disrupt the harmony.
Through looking at this room, you can see how important the NYIAD Guidelines to Interior Design are, whether you're decorating your own living room or putting together a wedding.