“A work devoid of a unifying element is liable to seem haphazard and disorderly. A work that is totally merged, without a variety, can seem boring. Both of these fundamentals are interlocked,” writes Marjorie Elliott Bevlin in Design Through Discovery, a college art theory book I’ve never tossed out, thanks to its timeless instruction. Collectively, unity and variety may turn an ordinary space into something extraordinary.
Unity represents the control of variety, and variety stipulates the interest within unity. The ideal result balances both. These two guiding principles may apply to so many facets of design, interior design and the landscape.
Here are some excellent examples of the subtle but highly effective balance of unity and variety, used in outdoor settings.
More garden design components: Line | Rhythm | Shape and Mass | Space | Texture | Color
The inside wall of this beautiful garden area is hung, gallery-style, with vintage maps. None is equally (variety), but with comparable off-white matte planks and dark eyeglasses, the general composition has triumphed.
Similarly, there is continuity between the blond wood flooring and chairs, as well as the armchair’s white slipcover and the snowy parson’s tables.
Studio Marcelo Brito
Blue, white and nautical topics unite this alluring vignette onto a covered porch. The varietyis expressed by three-dimensional nonframed items, such as the paddles, the fish and other discoveries in the sea. Their existence makes the grouping of framed prints even more interesting.
A research in terra-cotta illustrates how harmony of substance can be a unifying device. This three-dimensional mural uses a varied assemblege of shapes and types (variety). Since each piece is made from the same type of clay, there’s a general feeling of unity.
Carson Poetzl, Inc..
Unity may also be established with color. Verdigris green in a variety of software holds things together within this patio of mainly natural and neutral surfaces. The two oversize stars echo the doorway trim, which in turn echoes the planted succulents on the tabletop and the potted cactus.
Subtle yet gratifying, this outdoor seating area incorporatesunifying particulars like color: The wrought iron and the upholstery piping are both black; the olive pillows reflect the bay-green iron scrollwork. There is enough variety between substances, colours, textures and patterns, however they speak a standard, harmonious language.
A implanted picture of succulents, made by Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco, is framed as fine art. The many types of succulents, in colors ranging from blue-green to dark green to lime green, exemplify both unity and variety. Textures also contribute to the design’s range — and the overall composition is glorious.
Variety of materials is perhaps the first thing you notice upon approaching this home. Though their color palette is comparable, there’s lots of comparison between the mortared rock privacy wall and the smooth exterior stucco. But notice how the feeling of unity is expressed via hot, neutral finishes and a relationship between the horizontal lines of the window grids and the horizontally cut stone blocks.
Arterra Landscape Architects
The thought of comparison is expressed within this alluring outdoor living area. The smooth bands of poured-in-place concrete contrast nicely with the surrounding pebble and gravel mulch and the trio of reflective orbs. There is unity in the palette: The chocolate-brown furniture reflects the similarly dark fence; the plants are largely green and grassy. The general mood here is serenity and harmony.