Symmetry Versus Asymmetry

Debrae Little
August 13, 2023

What does a butterfly, the Taj Mal and mirrors have in common?

They are all thought to be symmetrical.  If you were to divide a
butterfly in half, each side would  match or be the mirror image of the
other. In other words, they would have a balanced similarity.

Symmetry has a profound effect in design. It enhances the aesthetic of
a room and promotes a sense of well-being and tranquility.  It is
accomplished by creating balance in the placement of elements,
furniture, and accessories to evoke a sense of orderliness, stability,
and predictability in a room.

Using one of our projects as an example, the dining room and fireplace
wall beautifully display the art of symmetry.

A room with a table and chairsDescription automatically generated

A living room with a television and a couchDescription automatically generated

Symmetry is also used to effectively distribute color in a room.

To create a well-balanced color scheme, one might consider following the 60-30-10 rule, which states that an interior space should be composed of three colors. However, these colors should be proportionally distributed in the following manner:

  • 60% primary color
  • 30% complementary color
  • 10% accent color

Symmetry works best in:

    Refined spaces 
- When you want to achieve more order and structure.
- When you don’t want to put a lot of thought into the arrangement of elements but still want to achieve balance.

Asymmetrical is the opposite of symmetry, which means having parts that do not match or that are not the same size, shape, or position.

Asymmetrical elements allow you to achieve uniqueness and character in design and

opens the door to have greater freedom of expression.

You can exploit asymmetry, using it to draw attention to areas in the design or to convey dynamism or movement.

Asymmetry will create visual tension if you want to highlight a dramatic feature in your space or to camouflage awkward angles or distract from unwanted architectural features that are prominent.

When Asymmetry Works Best

Symmetry is usually seen as stable and harmonized. However, for some people, stability might be predictable and boring. Asymmetrical layout tends to be more interesting and dynamic.

Go for asymmetry when:

  • You’re ready to spend extra time arranging elements to find unique ways of achieving balance.
  • You are seeking a more playful layout to convey user’s interest.
  • To make the layout stand out.

Symmetry is not always an either/or decision. It’s possible to create the most interesting and aesthetically pleasing designs by combining symmetry and asymmetry.  

You can break the layout into smaller sections and try to achieve a symmetrical or asymmetrical balance in each section. For example, you can have a symmetrical layout in which asymmetry is used to create points of interest and organize visual hierarchy within a group of similar elements.

A living room with a fireplace and couchesDescription automatically generated

As you can see, the symmetrical fireplace wall and asymmetrical furniture grouping work well in this family room giving an element of surprise to the standard space plan.

By sharing these two aspects of design, we hope to inspire you to look around look at your surroundings to identify the symmetrical and asymmetrical groupings, in nature, furniture or vignettes.

Let us know what you find!