Delta Wright

Interiors That Look and Feel Good

DOCENT Briefing No.10 | Color Theory Simplified

Delta Wright

Hello and Welcome to DOCENT - your guide to design intelligence, creative solutions and earthly beauty. 

Today’s DOCENT Briefing is on creating sophisticated, rich color palettes without having to spend years studying color theory. An eye for color is an interior designers’ virtuoso skill and given the vast choices, it takes awhile to get comfortable wrangling color palettes. (Keep reading for my secret to creating rich color palettes.)

Color is a global, pre-verbal language that evokes emotion quicker than lightening. It can also overwhelm. I have nothing against a crisp white wall or creamy nook, but they pale in comparison to the power of a well conceived color palette. My favorite way to create sophisticated color palettes is to look to art, fashion and nature. Why reinvent the (color)wheel when painters, fashion designers and Mother Nature have already mastered the craft?

Any master colorist will tell you that colors behave in three ways- they can be active, passive or neutral. First thing to decide is whether you want the décor to be dynamic or mellow. Interesting to note that monochromatic rooms can be done in both bold and soft colors with layering of textures, patterns and intensities. The key is to create tonal harmony by establishing a hierarchy of hues. Do you want to group several hues of light blue or contrast it with a deep turquoise? Strategic placement of neutrals – including black, grey, brown and white – is key to creating balance between active and passive shades.

Artists and designers of fashion and textile have spent decades sharpening their sense of color and their work provides rich inspiration for interiors. Consider a painting, fabric or fashion layout that soothes your soul or excites your eye. Slow down and really study the color palette. Which colors jump out at you, what color recedes into the background? The more time you spend looking at how colors interact, the more comfortable you will be working with color in your space.

Twenty years of pouring over paint chips and fabric samples have felt like a meditation for me, but I understand others may not have the patience. Thankfully technology has made it easier to recreate the color palettes used in your favorite works of art. Here are a few examples of color palettes I generated from art and fashion that strike my fancy. Notice the artistry of layering hues and the visual power of creating contras



Hope you enjoyed this DOCENT briefing on creating sophisticated and artful color palettes using art and fashion as inspiration. Upload images of your favorite artworks or fashion finds and see what you discover.

Until Next time -

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DOCENT Briefing No.9 | Stowaway!

Delta Wright

Hello and Welcome to DOCENT - your guide to design intelligence, creative solutions and earthly beauty. 

Today’s DOCENT Briefing poses a challenge to rethink a household staple. Elemental to daily life, practical and so necessary - our CABINETS are the interior architecture within our exterior architecture. Rather than relegate them to the pantry or the back hall, let's consider ways to elevate their existence and presence in our homes. I say, let's celebrate them as the temples of our (joy-sparked) wares!

CONCEPT: Catch-All or Categorize
First, let's consider the greater storage strategy. I find it works best to assign categories to each cabinet location in the home. If you have a concept of what goes where, it is easier to tidy, easier to find what you're looking for and easier to look at the contents and know when streamlining is needed. If cabinets start to "catch-all", it becomes too overwhelming to manage these daily tasks.
Determine categories based on quantity and size of items to store and proximity to functions. For example, a bureau in the family room might hold family photos and keepsakes, while the bedroom hall might be the place for shared linens. Categories are also dictated by the over all quantity of storage cabinets you have. A solid household storage strategy provides peace of mind.



We've all read the books and the articles, seen the videos and listened to the podcasts telling us what contents we're supposed to keep and what clutter we're supposed to ditch. My advice is this: keep what you NEED, keep what you LOVE. Ask yourself how you FEEL about each possession from the smallest relic, to the eight bars of soap under the sink. Be honest with yourself and go with your gut. In this case, less is always more - because breathing room at home provides the space we need for our daily rejuvenation.


By nature, cabinets are rectangular boxes. The easy answer is to "line 'em up and make 'em economical". Yes! Tuck them away, blend them in. But with today's expanded and immediate home building techniques, why not design and create storage containment that honors not only the functional but the beautiful? The use of unexpected materials such as frosted glass and leather or the use of softened and playful shapes can enliven our homes and make the previously mundane now sing!


It's true that utilizing more complex shapes and materials for built-in cabinetry will require a higher budget. If this becomes a roadblock to revolution, consider putting more thought into knobs and pulls. They are touchstones. They inherently define how we engage with this important interior architecture.


For centuries decorative painting, marquetry and the inlay of precious materials have been used to embellish our furniture pieces. It is time to explore incorporating modern translations of these treatments into the DNA of our built-in cabinets - from the front hall all the way to the upstairs linen closet. Incorporating mesh panels into doors is a way to permeate boring boxes. Doors fashioned from a three dimensional material can loosen the feel of a space while a subtle or textural mural always makes an appreciated contribution.


For each home we inhabit, rather than draw rectangles on plans labeled "storage", why not dedicate time to relish these beautiful containers designed to stow the belongings we NEED and LOVE? This interior architecture within our homes should be considered as thoughtfully as the exterior architecture that contains it.

Until Next time -

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DOCENT Briefing No.8 | The Ultimate Interior Design "How-to"

Delta Wright

Hello and Welcome to DOCENT - your guide to design intelligence, creative solutions and earthly beauty. 

Today’s DOCENT briefing is on my mission to create “interiors that look and FEEL good” by incorporating the Principles of Interior Design. As a half-engineer/half artist, I can tell you that creative expression soars when you build on a solid foundation of design intelligence. 

This process of shaping the experience of a space draws on aspects of psychology, neuroscience, architecture and geometry. While every project requires hundreds of individual choices, these 6 Design Principles complement each other to strengthen the whole composition. To be clear, creating masterful spaces requires a mix of technical skills, creative confidence and intuition. Sophisticated interior design is less about “painting by numbers” and more like conducting an orchestra.  

Showing is the best way of telling, so now let’s move though these 6 Design Principles in practice. Notice how each designer shown makes the Principles her/his own while still working in a framework. 

1. UNITY:  A feeling of oneness - sense of flow
As the name implies, the principle of UNITY reminds us that there should be a sense of harmony among the elements used.  No matter the value of the individual elements, without visual unity a person will feel confused in a space lacking unity. All the elements used should complement one another and create a sense of flow in the space.  

In this DWID designed family room, the organic shapes and soft textures are juxtaposed against angular wood elements to create a sense of flow with the abundant views of nature. The design story for this project was “Luxury Treehouse” which helped us create unity throughout the large home. This sophisticated Parisian living room by Jean Louis Deniot beautifully demonstrates a sense of oneness through a color palette while playing with proportions and scale.

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Delta Wright Interior Design and Jean Louis Deniot Interiors

2. EMPHASIS: an accentuation of importance - a focal point
I think of the principle of EMPHASIS as a dose of WOW factor.  An accentuation that generates interest and draws the viewer in. A well-designed room will have at least one focal point that should make a lasting impression. Some spaces have natural focal points such as a large window or a fireplace. Artwork or an accent wall are also excellent ways to create emphasis.  

In his living room, Parisian designer Pierre Yovanovitch anchored the room with a literal artwork of an eye by Mark Quinn above thefireplace. Across the globe in Sydney, in this pared down modernist home by Robson Rak a wall was blasted out to extend the eye towards nature.

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Robson Rak Architects and Designers and Pierre Yovanovitch Architecture

3. RHYTHM: an orderly repetition of an object or element
In music, it’s the beat, the pulse that keeps us humming along. In interior design, rhythm is all about visual pattern repetition. The rhythm can be tight and precise, or a progression of color or size. Rhythm creates a sense of visual movement that leads the eye from one design element to another.

In this casual family room by Vincente Wolf, a backdrop of vintage shovels spaced apart equally provides both visual interest and serenity. In this vignette by The Rug Company, a progression of ceremonial African masks matches the beat of the lush Zebra pattern rug.


Vincente Wolf Interiors and The Rug Company

4. CONTRAST: a juxtaposition that accentuates differences
Even a subdued space needs a dose of contrast to bring it alive. Contrast allows designers to emphasize or highlight key elements in the space.  The juxtaposition can be subtle or bold - the goal is to keep things interesting and aligned with overall feel. I will say that high contrast requires some risk-taking, but the more you do it the more exciting it becomes. Brazilian architect and designer Sig Bergamin is know for his fearless approach to layering a kaleidoscope of colors, textures, textiles and art. Here he hung a large Chinese figurative painting on geometric wallpaper to accentuate the difference in shapes. On the other hand, in this Richard Mishaan designed living room simply hanging two large color abstraction paintings in a formal setting loosened up the space.


Sig Bergamin Interiors and Richard Mishaan Design

5. SCALE/PROPORTION: a scaling of objects in relation to each other
Proportion is all about context. Mathematicians, scientists and philosophers have long been fascinated by relational patterns found in nature and human bodies. You don’t have to be Leonardo da Vinci to observe the appeal that comes from visual harmony. The Golden Ratio of 1.618 proportional increments is considered to be the key for beauty and used widely as a guide. In both these examples, various widths and heights are used in proportion to the objects next to each other. The differences in scale are noticeable, yet pleasing.

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6. BALANCE: a distribution of equal weight
All 6 Design Principles are connected and contribute to “the whole being greater than the sum of its parts”. Change one tiny thing in a room and you can throw off the balance of the rest of the design elements. Balancing the visual and emotional weight in a space is at the heart of interior design. Note there are different kinds of balance. Traditional interiors usually follow symmetrical balance where objects and furnishings are repeated on each side of a vertical axis like this pristine example from Warren Platner Design. Asymmetrical balance is a more fluid, organic experience of equal visual weight, yet also harder to achieve.

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London based designer Hubert Zandberg artfully balances textures, shapes and color in this living room.

There are endless ways to apply these 6 Design Principles and that is what I love about my work. I side with the Ancient Greeks who saw the desire for beauty and harmony as a universal value. Creating spaces that “look and FEEL good” is my way of contributing to a more harmonious world.

Until Next Time -