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[Revealed] Perfect Patterns: Expert Reveals Hidden Meanings Behind Geometric Wallpaper and How it Can Influence How We Feel

Geometric wallpaper has always been quite popular, but it’s experienced a sudden but welcome renaissance in the last few years - in July search volumes jumped by 300% as homeowners and budding interior designers took advantage of the warm weather to re-style their homes this summer.

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Alex Whitecroft, Head of Design at I Want Wallpaper, believes that the design's popularity is because of its versatility. 

Geometric patterns have a reputation as one of the most visually appealing styles within interior design, and it's well deserved. From calming repeating patterns to striking uses of theme and colour, it's an enduring thematic choice that has the capacity to change and affect any room.

But why are geometric designs so influential? How can shapes affect how we think or even feel? 

'Ultimately, shapes are the building blocks of everything we see, and the meaning we associate with them speaks to the way we see and understand our world.

When it comes to the use of shapes, designers often use geometric designs to symbolise ideas or concepts, set a mood or emotion, create a travel path for the eye around the design, create depth or movement.

When they’re combined with other themes or colour palettes, the possibilities are endless. There’s an unlimited amount of exciting combinations to play around with which can have a huge impact not only on the way a space looks, but how it feels as well. 

Part of the appeal of using geometric wallpaper is its simplicity - and its genius is in its versatility. I’m always thrilled to see the ways in which everyone from interior designers to do-it-yourselfers are using geometric design to create truly unique and evocative spaces.’

Alex put a reference guide to explain how geometric wallpaper can influence how we feel, and how we can use them at home.

Squares/Rectangles

What They Mean: Stability,  Solidarity, Honestly, Reliability, Reassurance, Balance

 

Best Room: Living Room, Home Office

One of the most commonly used shapes in geometric design, squares and rectangles have often been associated with feelings of strength and stability, and it's not hard to see why. 

Many of us were first introduced to squares and rectangles as kids as toys in the form of simple solid building or number/letter blocks. Made up of straight lines and right angles they’re one of the most trusted and familiar shapes, and while they might not be as flashy as others, they communicate feelings of honesty, solidity and stability. 

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Paired with a soft colour palette, square or rectangle geometric wallpaper designs can come across as solid and comforting, which makes them a perfect choice for living rooms or spaces where you want to wind down during the evening. On the other hand, darker tones can add a touch of sophistication and confidence, making it a perfect option for a home office or study. 

Circles

What They mean: Light, Happiness, Softness, Innocence, Movement

Best Room: Kitchen, Kids Rooms 

Where squares and rectangles are strong and stable, circles give off a more relaxed and chilled-out vibe in any space they’re incorporated in. Often associated with bubbles or clouds, they often communicate feelings of lightness and activity, and their inherent round implies that they are always on the move and hard to pin down.  Since the kitchen is often the heart of any home, geometric designs that incorporate circles can help the space feel light and alive. 

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Lacking any sharp edges or angles, they often come across as friendly and welcoming, and almost mischievous in nature; as a result, you’ll often find them in themes aimed at children, making it an excellent design choice when it’s time to decorate the kids room.  

Triangles
 

What They Mean: Energy, Direction, Guidance, Divinity, Awareness

Best Room: Hallway, Stairs and Landing 

Triangles are an interesting and often misunderstood shape. That might sound strange but it's true; while they’re not the only shape made up of points, triangles can often feel dangerous and feel like they’re giving us a sense of  direction in equal measure, depending on how they’re positioned and framed. 

Triangles can often remind us of spearheads and arrows which can imply danger - but they can also make us feel aware and mindful. Since triangles come with a literal point, they’re often used to communicate direction and guidance, as if showing us the way forward. Often used in ancient designs as a way to point towards the heavens, which gives them an almost spiritual and divine feeling. 

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With their subtle way of communicating awareness, guidance and direction, geometric patterns that incorporate triangles are often a perfect fit for rooms and parts of the home where there's a lot of travel and movement like hallways, stairs and landings. 

Soft colour palettes are great for creating a subtle guiding vibe, but if you really want to create a sense of energy and movement with a creative edge, look for Bo-Ho Aztec designs with a punch of colour to add some excitement to your space. 

Rhombus (Diamonds)
 

What They Mean: Nature, Origin, Balance, Adaptability, Direction, Focus. 

Best Room: Bedroom, Home Office  

When it comes to geometric design, Rhombus (also referred to as diamonds) are incredibly versatile. Since all of its sides are of equal length no matter its position, rhombus have often been associated with balance and adaptability, always associated with the ability to remain stable no matter how it's placed. In addition, when placed off centre (almost appearing titled) they can give the impression of movement, drive and focus - which makes it a great choice for a home office, where progress and moving forward with tasks is the name of the game. 

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When used in the more upright ‘diamond position’, they often symbolises origin and life, and through it’s 4 points, have traditionally been associated with the four elements of  earth, air, fire, and water. As a result, the diamond can be found in many different cultures as a symbol that represents rebirth, revival, and transformation. As a result, diamond patterns are often a wonderful addition to rooms that are often full of life and love like living rooms and bedrooms. 

In interior design, these meanings are often brought together through symmetry and repetition, which creates some truly stunning patterns that can really draw the eye. Pair with deep monochrome or shimmer tones to add a touch of sophistication, or play with complimentary combinations to bring that sense of love and life together with vibrant colour.  

Hexagons

What They Mean: Connection, Cooperation, Unity, Community  

Best Room: Living Room, Dining Room

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From a design perspective, hexagons are one of the most simple yet most versatile shapes we have to work with. When compared to other shapes and symbols, they occupy a sort of in between space. Their use of symmetry and angles remind us of squares, but their roundness and near circular nature can also draw similarities to circles as well.

They also have a close connection with nature; when they’re paired in a repeating pattern, hexagons look exactly like honeycombs, a structure that only takes shape with the community and cooperation; making it a perfect design choice for any room where family and friends come together. 

The shape's versatility means that it can be combined with a variety of colours and themes to completely transform a space - If you’re looking to mix add a touch of the grand-millenial, look for hexagonal designs that use soft, pastel colour palettes, or if you want something a bit more daring, look for floral and jungle themes to add a touch of the exotic. 

Natural/Organic Shapes
 

What They Mean: Nature, Life, Freedom, Excitement 

Best Room: Living Room, Bedroom, Bathroom

As the name suggests, Organic shapes are those that can be found in nature, which can take a variety of interesting and unique forms.

They can be found in our surroundings and include everything from flowers, leaves and trees to the clouds and the stars above. While the meaning behind traditional shapes is more subtle, natural shapes can convey a wealth of meaning and evoke emotion and association, which means they can be used in virtually every room in the home. 

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Looking to add some vibrant colour to your bathroom? Consider using emerald green leaves on an off-white background to really make it feel unique. And don’t forget to add some humidity loving houseplants to complete the look. If you're after that quirky vibe, look for modern or retro designs that incorporate unexpected colour pairings to make a room really stand out.

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Abstract Shapes

What They Mean: Anything!

Best Room: Dining Rooms, Home Offices, Open Spaces

From one extreme to the other, abstract shapes are a bit harder to define. Often derived from organic shapes, abstract shapes are created by taking the most recognisable real-life shapes and creating a simple version of it - think stick figures for humans or V’s for birds in art and animation.   

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Because abstract shapes are, well, abstract, they don’t have the same level of symbolism attached to them - but that doesn’t mean they lack meaning or enjoyment. In fact, being free of any meaning means that it’s interpretation and enjoyment is up to us! 

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Ultimately, it’s the elements that make geometric design so enjoyable, like repetition and symmetry that have the power to influence how we feel just as much as any subtle symbolism. Pair dark colours with a touch of gold or silver to add a bit of elegance to a space, or incorporate shimmer and textured patterns to make your room feel truly distinctive. 

Content and Images by:

Alex Whitecroft, Head of Design
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