Design Principles – 5 Dominance (Series, 5 of 6)

Read Paulina Bird’s (House of Bird) insights into the 6 Principles of Design and how applying these principles can influence a successful design and create beautiful spaces. This Six Part Series breaks the design mystery down to its most simple and most easily understood elements – a must for any design enthusiast.

Paulina explains Dominance as a Design Principle and it’s ability to create a focal point in a Design.


I have purposely featured Pattern to demonstrate Dominance in this Blog post. We are adapting pattern back into our Designs which is very exciting, but get it wrong and you will regret it, get it right, and your whole scheme will sing with freshness, enthusiasm and life. You will also draw a lot of attention to your project. Pattern can be used in accents such as cushions, rugs, art work or for the more adventurous and serious enthusiast wallpaper, tiles or flooring.

Pattern in tiles is also momentously entering our Showroom at Suregrip Ceramics. Be confident to add some to a feature wall of even the floor. Though I haven’t used examples of Tiles in this Blog post, the use of pattern can be seen as a stimulating feature in any Design Project.


The first thing the eye sees in any design is the Dominant or focal factor. This trails the eye around the design we want the viewer to follow. Getting information in the correct order gets viewer’s attention. Add too much Dominance and that is all the viewer sees. It kills the rest of the design. Get it right and it works its magic.

Dominance is achieved through the skilful application of balance and rhythm and thoughtful organisation of the elements of design into areas of emphasis. It is the center of interest, point of importance, or dominant area within the space. Use of contrasts, leading lines, unusual detail, and grouping of objects are all significant ways to create Dominance. Principles of Design are applied to the elements of design that bring them together into one (I will elaborate on the Elements of Design in my later Blog posts). How one applies these Principles determines how successful a Design may be.

Dominance 1

Take the example of one of my current favourite Australian Designers, Greg Natale. He has a very strong Design ethic and loves working and creating patterns. He has his own Range of Designer Rugs and Wallpaper Prints. The use of Dominance in his work is very interesting.

Looking at the Entry that Greg has designed gives us a strong focal point. Where does your eye go first? My eye goes directly to the patterned rug and then links the cushion which is in a similar design. The eye circles to the dark carpet on the stairs and then back to the rug. The rug is a perfect focal (dominant) point. The room is Balanced. Rhythm is evident in the patterns and stairs, Movement allows the eye to trail around the room, Stability anchors the pieces and they all come together within a gorgeous colour palette: be it simple, it works. This is the true work of a great design. I have included another two of Greg’s Schemes, see if you can follow the dominant factor and if you can see the Design Principles working at there best in the hands of a master Designer.

Dominance 2

In the kitchen scheme above, Greg has added a beautiful balance to all the elements. The rug again catches your eye first, this being the Dominant feature. This is because it has so much Movement and Rhythm even though the pattern and colour’s are subtle. The fireplace, table, chairs and coffee table add Movement and Balance while the use of blue in the cushion and home wares give the sense of Rhythm. Repetition in the use of circles and curves helps stable and unify the room.

The Dining Room delivers a more formal approach; have you worked out the Dominate feature? It’s the chairs, so use of colour and pattern in the chairs make this the Dominating feature in the room. They are Balanced with the dark timber cabinet and dark timber floor. The blue hues link and add movement in the amazing rug, another of Greg Natale’s Designs. This sends a simple Rhythm through the room connecting the use of colour in the upholstered seating and art work. The symmetry of the table, rug and art work adds to the Stability and Balance of the room. Visit for more of his inspirational Designs.

Dominance 4

In the pattern Artwork shown above (this is my Design Print, Astoria) the Dominate factor is in the use of the shade black and the varying shape the diamonds. These diamonds appear to stand out of the page and the eye follows the diamonds up and down. The Design Principles can be applied even to a Pattern. The Rhythm is in the repetition and symmetry of the diamonds alternating sizes, and the zigzags in grey beige and white tones balance the Dominant darker shades. I love playing with patterns and am adding to my collection at every chance.

Remember, a focal point, Dominating feature, is all part of a great Design. It adds interest, counteracting confusion and monotony but too much Dominance is a disaster. Get it right and it is a delight.

Happy Designing.

By Paulina Bird

Links to all six parts: Design Principles – 1 Balance (Series, 1 of 6)Design Principles – 2 Rhythm (Series, 2 of 6)Design Principles – 3 Movement (Series, 3 of 6)Design Principles – 4 Stability (Series, 4 of 6)Design Principles – 5 Dominance (Series, 5 of 6)Design Principles – 6 Tension (Series, 6 of 6).

Explore our showroom for yourself – 2a Gordon Avenue Geelong West.  You can also book your no obligation complimentary appointment with our design team – learn more about our Concept Consult here.

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About Paulina Bird

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