The word ‘vignette’ is primarily used to describe a decoration or a small illustration on the title page of a book or at the beginning of a chapter. It is a small illustrative sketch, an image that has elements intentionally arranged to tell a bigger story.
Similarly, in the world of Interiors, a vignette is the positioning of furniture and decorative objects together to achieve a ‘snapshot’ of an idealised lifestyle. Furniture and decorative objects showrooms use vignettes all the time to display their gear at their best thus creating the feeling of idealised environments we can relate to and fall in love with.
Being able to create vignettes gives us the ability to display beautiful arrangements of objects, which are intentionally used to convey a feeling such as calm, elegance, luxurious, coastal, industrial…
A collection of items gathered together on a mantelpiece and arranged in a pleasant way is a vignette. A small number of objects aesthetically arranged on a kitchen bench form a vignette. One armchair in a bedroom, paired with a table and a reading lamp, form a vignette. As different as these vignettes can be they all share one thing in common: they are a collection of objects arranged together to convey a certain mood.
So, you say, How do I do it? What are the rules for creating vignettes? Well it only took me a year and a half to write down all I know for the online course Interior Design For Profit… but here let me summon it briefly.
First of all, choose a theme: a cohesive collection, books, same-material or same-colour objects. Then gather the objects in odd numbers [there is a magic charm in groups of 3 and 5]. Form the arrangements playing off each other by contrast: rough texture next to smooth, soft against hard, straight shapes near rounded ones. As diversity sparks interest, balance your collection by grouping tall, medium and short together, fat and lean and skinny. Am I going too fast? Arrange the overall composition in the middle of the surface, symmetrically if you prefer, in which case a triangular composition seems to work well in most cases. The symmetrical M shaped composition is great to convey elegance, while the ‘spread and busy’ will look romantic only with objects of obvious value, otherwise it’s clutter. Finally, and above all, trust your personal taste, as yours is the vignette and yours is the home.
One last point I must make: if your home is soon to be sold, the vignettes you create around the property will contribute to tell a story that may determine a good sale or not. If this is your case, the following rules also must apply. A vignette will never feel like clutter, but be ordered and neat. It will be dust free and feel easy to clean. It must be strategically placed to support the room with interest and must be in tune with the overall theme of your property.
I know, I know, all this may feel overwhelming. But ultimately it's fun, so, now that you have all the ingredients you need to make a vignette, where will you start from. What is the larger story you want to tell?
James Treble has more than 25 years of experience in the Building Industry and Interior Design. His knowledge and experience have been published for all to learn and benefit from. Interior Design For Profit is now available online.