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How to combine 

round and angular


It's not as hard as you'd think. The world loves contrasts and they work very well in interior and furniture design. The art of mixing and matching is also the art of knowing how to combine round and angular shapes.


Use round shapes to soften

Round shapes instantly create softness. They create a relaxing and friendly atmosphere. Who wouldn't want to cuddle up in the famous Egg Chair (1958) designed by Arne Jacobsen or the Ball Chair (1963) by Eero Aarnio? Or to play footsie under the Tulip table (1957) designed by Eero Saarinen or to caress the curves of a Panton Chair or a Guy Paulin sofa? Rounded curves in furniture design are used as a counterpoint to today's more austere designs. They also hark back to the more joyous, coloured and festive designs of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Curves and circles are becoming more sophisticated, displaying unexpected elegant twists and turns. In the home, rounded shapes allow you to create a space within a space and to define or isolate a space from the rest of the room. Round rugs or tables are perfect for marking off a dining or living area. But they need sufficient space around them to really shine. However, the approach is not the same in furniture design and architecture. "Curved structures (partitions and walls) are technically harder to build than straight ones. They require specialist expertise and often must be custom built. "This is much more expensive," explains Hélène Paoli.

The softness of organic forms, a felt pebble pouffe and an Eames armchair soften the right angles of this minimalist interior. Interior design by Hélène Paoli. ©Alexis Paoli

Hotel des Galeries. Ode to contemporary purity where the 1950s inspired design softens the overall effect. Architect-designer Camille Flammarion and Fleur Delasalle, interior designer. ©YoannStoeckel

Using angles to structure space

Right angles are the norm in terms of construction and the majority of rooms are either square or rectangular. These forms have always been used in furniture design as they are easier and cheaper to manufacture on an industrial scale, although they have been refined and redefined over time. This is particularly true for tables, which like worktops now sport chamfered edges and subtly softened angles. Right angles are particularly good at highlighting the perspective of a room. So, if you want to create an illusion of space in your living room, choose a rectangular rug. Angular forms are not only easier to position against a wall, but also save on space. 

How to mix forms to redesign a space 

You can't have one without the other so be flexible and don't be afraid to mix styles! This is relatively easy at the moment with the trend for all things vintage. Furniture design also successfully marries organic and ergonomic forms. "It's far easier to break up angles using furniture than with architectural features," explains Hélène Paoli, "I use round shapes to add touches of softness by adding an armchair, a pouffe, side tables or lights. Sofas are particularly suited to soft round shapes but it's a question of personal taste. However, it is often the space that dictates the layout and combinations of these shapes." 

LEAF shelving unit, large round ETTA coffee table and KNOT pouffes. The combination of lines creates rhythm and movement in this small space. 

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