By John Filippelli
Although it is relatively unknown to some designers, the art of Dynamic Symmetry, which combines elements of balance and movement with geometry and nature, seems to be the right fit for those who are willing to open their minds and their designs to its possibilities. In fact, according to Mark Rosenhaus, CKD, of Manhattan, NY-based Rosenhaus Design Group, who spoke about Dynamic Symmetry's kitchen and bath design implications at the recent K/BIS here, the coming decade may well see Dynamic Symmetry having a significant impact on kitchen and bath design.
Based on an ancient mathematical sequence known as the Fibonacci numbers (a sequence of 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34etc. whereby adding the two proceeding numbers equals the third number, and dividing consecutive numbers produces 62%), Dynamic Symmetry is the nucleus for a successfully balanced and aesthetically pleasing design, Rosenhaus believes.
By relying on a foundation called the "proportion of shapes," the sequence enables designers to create a layout where the length of one side of a cabinet is 62% of its adjacent length, providing the basis for a stunning design that is also highly functional.
"When you use these proportions, you use shapes that are very
pleasing to people," he notes.
Rosenhaus believes that the principle of Dynamic Symmetry offers enormous design potential, and he states, "Dynamic Symmetry's greatest value is that it suggests the vitality of life and movement."
The main principle of Dynamic Symmetry is the "Golden Rectangle," Rosenhaus notes. The Golden Rectangle, which contains the 62% width-to-length ratio, illustrates "geometry in art and nature," he believes.
"Golden Rectangle kitchen cabinets prove that unity does not mean uniformity, and looking closely inside a Golden Rectangle will reveal squares within rectangles and rectangles within squares," he says.
Rosenhaus is also quick to note that despite the unique proportions, Dynamic Symmetry does not require designers to strictly use custom cabinetry for their designs. In fact, almost any cabinetry or design theme can be used with Dynamic Symmetry and will complement the design, if done correctly.
Another key point to Dynamic Symmetry is the way it generates lines. Dynamic Symmetry provides visual movement, which removes the risk of creating a static design. To generate lines, a designer must create visual lines between particular points of shapes. When the line passes from one corner to the other, it will set up the eye to follow.
"The eye always wants to be directed, " he stresses. "Using a combination of 'golden proportions' and highlighting major points of interest will reveal the pleasure of geometry in art."
While Rosenhaus has mainly used the principle in upper kitchen cabinets, he notes that designers can draw attention to base cabinets via the diagonals and lines that are created from the upper portion of the cabinet to the lower portion of the upper cabinet or curves of the hood.
A Golden Rectangle can also be formed using negative space within a design. Stressing the value of the 'center of gravity' within a design, Rosenhaus explains, "You don't have to have cabinets going straight up to the ceiling. For instance, you can vary dimensions, applying the golden proportions [within cabinetry] both horizontally and vertically, while the negative space puts the entire thing into balance."
Contrast in shapes is also important to the principle. As Rosenhaus notes, "If you don't have contrast, then you have no rhythm."
Furthermore, he adds that color cannot be overlooked, either, because it forces the designer and viewer to move in a certain rhythm. This is particularly important, Rosenhaus explains, because designs are three-dimensional and the color contrast enhances the depth of the cabinetry.
While acknowledging that axial symmetry, or 'simple symmetry,' is adequate for smaller objects, Rosenhaus observes that, "at a certain point, it becomes obvious and that can make axial symmetry boring and predictable."
To make axial symmetry work, Rosenhaus states that the points of interest should lead the viewer's eye to different locations.
In contrast, Dynamic Symmetry enhances a client's design and helps designers avoid spaces that rely on a vertical line with two objects equidistant from each other.
"We are so used to the modern version of axial symmetry that it is what most [designers] fall into," he notes.
"In kitchens, we design for the size of a person, so we can view
and interact from different vantage points."
The principle can also be applied to the bath, Rosenhaus notes, as a decorative enhancement for wall or floor tiles or cabinetry.
Summarizing the principle, Rosenhaus states, "Applying the use of the Golden Rectangle of varying sizes will yield a design with visual points of interest. The generating lines connecting these points will lead the eye where to go more than you may have realized on the drawing board."
Dynamic Symmetry not only encourages designers to view designs from a different perspective, it also offers them "a tool to fine-tune the design," Rosenhaus concludes.