The Concept of Positive and Negative Spaces in Interior Design


When talking about positive and negative spaces it is important

to first understand the term “space” in itself. In interior

design any volume which is being contained within masonry

walls and are habitable is normally termed as space.

The volume that gets enclosed in an architectural structure is

just a tiny fraction of the vast amount of “universal space”.

By universal space I mean the cosmos or the gigantic vastness

in which our planet and all other planets, starts etc.. survive.

The volume, which gets contained in a building, varies according to

the use of the building. A cinema theatre and a bedroom will surely

have different purposes and hence volume. Volume gets defined by

three factors, length, breadth and height of the habitable room.

But irrespective of the volume both types of buildings mentioned

above have “spaces” enclosed within. Lets consider the bedroom

for the sake of this article.

A typical bedroom will have certain architectural elements

attached to it at the time of construction of the building and

certain “imposed” later for the sake of proper function. Also

it is important to note that no one builds bedrooms in isolation.

A bedroom is always a part of the entire home plan.

The architectural elements already present in a bedroom would be

attached toilet and its entrance door, attached terrace or

backyard entry, attached study room. All these spaces have

work like supplementary role in a bedroom. Now the “imposed”

elements are the furniture in the room, other accessories that

will occupy the space in a bedroom.

A typical bedroom will have a double bed, wardrobe, dressing

table, side tables, study table, book shelf etc.. All these

are necessary to use the room in a comfortable way. When these

furniture are arranged in a room what remains is termed as the

“circulation space”. Now most people think that the volume of

the furniture and the remaining empty space must have a balance

between them. Because it is not the occupied volume, but the

empty volume, that decides the comfort levels inside a room.

If you visit a store room on the basement of a house which is

normally used to dump useless things, you will notice that the

empty space remained is very less and hence the comfort levels

there, are poor. So in interior design the “empty space” is

equally important. Now here comes the concept of positive and

negative spaces. Normally a negative space is considered a

space which can not be used for a specific human activity.

But this is not true. As said above the over all comfort levels

in a room is determined by both the occupied as well as non-occupied

spaces. So any smallest piece of floor area that is not being

occupied is going to contribute to the comfort levels.

That’s why the terminology of being positive and negative as

far as usability is considered becomes a personal matter. What

you think as a useless and non functional space can become a

good place for your kid and his friends when they play hide and

seek. It’s just the viewpoint to look at thing that matters.

Also a little creativity can alter a non-functional space into

a functional one. But remember what I said earlier, in interior

design empty space matters. It is not just beautiful furniture,

costly paints/wallpapers/paintings that are going to decorate

your rooms. Finally it boils down to only one thing, YOU and

YOUR mental as well as physical health in that space.

I hope this article was helpful to everyone.

Copyright Shrinivas Vaidya


Source by Shrinivas Vaidya