How to Create a Vignette
You have seen them in magazines and the homes of the rich and famous. Those dreamy hall entries with a table or console and beautiful objects and flowers on top, those perfectly styled coffee tables with books and accessories that are neatly stacked and nestled against each other…
Designers love creating these arrangements, called vignettes. They add so much glamour to any space. Some designers prefer to reserve the term vignette to the bigger compositions mentioned above since they feel that a vignette is the full picture, not a part of a set, although most designers will apply the term to any styled composition and that’s perfectly correct too.
A vignette can be described as a picture or story created with objects. It is how designers paint. They are able to create a still life painting by using objects, the paradox being, this makes it the inverted process of an actual still life painting.
Vignettes can tell a story but they don’t necessarily have to. What they do need to be is appealing and interesting. Their function is predominantly aesthetic, though they can also be functional in some circumstances (and in the case of an office or studio, the should actually be both).
To create your own vignette, start by creating smaller sets and only using 3-5 objects. These small sets can be called styled compositions. A styled composition would be a smaller set within a bigger picture.
So why would you want to use vignettes in your home? To begin with, they add a designer touch to any space. They are also a great way of displaying sets or collections of any kind. Instead of simply putting objects in an unappealing row, you can create depth and height and thus give the composition the importance it deserves. After all, you spent a good few hours collecting those sea shells!
What can you use to create a styled composition? The possibilities are endless:
-One big object, a medium-sized one and a smaller one in similar or contrasting colors or textures. Think mirrors, vases, branches…
-A set or collection of similar objects, in this case, a tray, a box, a vase or even a cake stand or dish will serve as the container to display your collection.
-Books and decorative accents (candles, paper weights, shells, trinket boxes, branches, figures, mugs)
-A set of pictures or framed photos in different sizes.
-A vase of flowers or a plant and smaller objects in matching or complementary colours.
Try finding a connection between the elements, a common thread like color, theme, and so on. Something that brings the composition together, or play with color contrast and different textures.
How to create a vignette or styled composition:
1. Start with the biggest object. We call this dominant object the focal point or anchor.
2. Place that object to a side of the surface and then place the smaller ones slightly to an angle in front, creating depth layers. Rearrange until you are happy with the result.
Here is an example with a common color theme. This is one of the easiest ways of creating a vignette. When different objects have a color in common, they immediately look cohesive.
3. Don’t over do it. Three objects are enough, but if you choose to use more, do so in odd numbers.
4. Always work in layers starting from the back. Each object should be placed as a layer in front, which means avoid placing objects in line. Look for depth, not a flat effect.
5. Use varying heights and varying sizes.
Once you become familiar with the process, you will find yourself creating vignettes everywhere. They are addictive!
Hopefully you have been inspired to create your own.