Interior design isn’t only about beautiful furniture and furnishings. It’s essentially about people and how people use a space. How people interact and engage with all the element of a space from the furniture to the light. That’s why creating a good flow of movement for your rooms is also important to a balanced and harmonious space.
What is flow of movement
Flow of movement is literally how people ‘flow’ through a space. The pathways to access the focal pieces of furniture that support the key function of the space. But it also relates to the flow of movement of light and air.
In an open plan living environment the flow of movement also relates to how the adjacent zones all work together seamlessly. That it’s easy to get to each zone, for example from the kitchen to the butler’s pantry, or the dining zone to the bathroom.
Negative and positive space
A key aspect to the success of the flow of movement in a space is the understanding of negative and positive space. Both are important in any room.
Positive space is the space taken up by objects that support the function of the room. For example the sofa in a living room, occupies the positive space in that zone.
But the negative space is the empty space around that sofa. The void that allows people to get to the sofa. Walk around it. Move away from it. Access the complementary pieces such as the coffee table and arm chairs.
When I work on floor plans for my clients, I draw dotted lines to indicate people accessing the positive space from the negative space. This way I can see if there are any sticking points, for example if the sofa isn’t accessible from the left side because it’s too close to a wall or another piece of furniture.
Scale and proportion can also influence the flow of movement. For example if your dining table is too big for the space which means you bump into the wall when you try to leave. As a rule of thumb I like to leave at least 50-80cm between pieces. Which is just enough room for people to walk through and around furniture.
Considering all the access points such as exits and entries, function, furniture size, light and air are all important factors to a good flow of movement for your rooms.