Decorating & Design

February 29, 2012

Optical Illusions

Every designer needs a few good tricks up their sleeve: clever ways to make a room, wall or piece of furniture look larger, smaller, more textured or have a different shape entirely. Colour, line and material all play their part to fool the eye and create convincing illusions. It’s often as straightforward and practical as elevating a basic table by draping it with stylish fabric or making a narrow window seem wider by covering the adjacent wall with curtains. Practicality, however, isn’t always a designer’s prerogative — sometimes it’s just about dramatic eye candy, mind-bending showmanship and the type of objects that aren’t necessarily easy to incorporate into a traditional home, but which definitely get the imagination running.

Here are some interesting examples:

Mirrors are often used to make spaces feel larger, but with the Treehotel in northern Sweden, Tham Videgård Akitekter used reflection to make the cube-shaped building (which is built around a tree trunk) virtually disappear.

John Leung’s minimal, graphic bookshelf and magazine rack looks like a 2D pencil sketch, drawn on the wall. The real trick, though, is that it looks like there are four shelves to the left but only three to the right.

The back and seat of Nendo’s Fadeout Chair are wood, but the legs are clear acrylic that’s been carefully painted so that the piece looks like it’s floating.

Cuatro Cuatros, a young design collective from Valencia, Spain, designed this Escher-esque vase so that depending on your perspective, it forms an impossible triangle.

For more great furniture finds, see our Iconic Furniture A-Z photo gallery.

Photo credits:
1. Treehotel, Tham & Videgård Arkitekter
2. Bias of Thoughts Bookshelf, John Leung
3. Fadeout Chair, Nendo
4. 90° vase, Cuatro Cuatros