The word contrast is defined as “the state of being strikingly different from something else, typically something in close association” and is an important element when working with different artistic mediums. Contrasting can be used in a variety of different ways and in different textures, styles and colours, but is important in an artistic situation to capture the focus and the eye of the beholder. As an example, if the eye were to travel over a piece of artwork that is similar and repetitive it will scan the art and move on, but if the artwork has a contrasting element within it, the eye will be drawn to this element and hold it’s attention.
Artists use these contrasting elements, as well as composition and direction, to lead the viewer around the artwork and take the whole piece in, causing wonder, marvel and excitement in viewing. While this form of contrasting is used often within the artist world, it also translates heavily into more physical mediums like fashion designing (even putting an outfit together in the morning) and even within the events industry.
When styling your party or event, it is always important to choose one element that will be your party centrepiece, whether that be a birthday cake, a banner or even balloons. The important part about maintaining this piece as the main focal point is by ensuring it contrasts with the rest of the decorations that are beside it. This can be done through colour, shape, style or placement. Once you have placed this main contrasting item as the centre focal point, you then have to create a flow and a movement to move the attention around to take in the rest of the decorations and the party as a whole. You can this by placing a similar colour nearby, which moves into another colour, adding a few balloons with dangling strings above the centrepiece, or even by moving the lines of the decorations.
To help give you an idea of the different ways you can use contrasting to tie a party together, I have put together a few examples for you.
Opposites That Blend
This form of contrasting can be jarring and obvious, but the use of greenery and natural elements such as the wooden furniture, the floral cushions and the bronzed vases means that this contrasting lounge set also blends in beautifully with rolling lawns and manor style landscape that was chosen as the venue for this beautiful wedding. The contrasting elements of suddenly finding a beautiful lounge set in the middle of the field conjures up images of house and home, and makes for not only a perfect piece of event styling, but a perfect contrasting element that draws your eyes to everything and allows a further appreciation for the event at hand.
Photo by We Are Origami Photography
Same But Different
Contrasting can be simple as using the same items together but making sure that one element draws the attention by utilising a different colour. This is done best when putting together floral bouquets for weddings by drawing the attention to the bouquet and then moving around the rest of the flowers to take in the complete masterpiece. An example would be using a few different colour lilies to a bouquet of all white lillies, or perhaps by having sprigs of lavender and baby breath in a large bouquet of roses or shorter flowers. These flowers may be different in form or colour but they make a perfect example of contrasting because they are close in association by still being a flower or a natural element. Just remember to make sure that the bouquets will also work with the bride or bridesmaids dresses, as this will also be a natural form of contrasting.
Photo by Decorative Events and Exhibitions
When styling a party or event, you need to make sure it is three-dimensional in shape and sizing, and make sure that all of the decorations are not just being contrasted into one area of a venue. In order to take in the whole party, you need to arrange all of the decorations and contrasting elements in a flow around the room. You can utilise this flow by hanging decorations from the roof of the venue, such as bunting, balloons, piñatas, or anything that will catch the eye and draw it to the other areas, where similar focal points and colours are waiting to catch it and keep attention flowing.
Once you have incorporated these elements into your party, you won’t believe how many times you will hear your guests exclaiming about how wonderful the decorations have been put together. Their attention has been captured by your beautiful contrasting elements and creates a wonderful chance to fully admire the room and take in the party before reaching into the finer elements such as the food, the drink and the confetti on the table. Remember when styling anything, you need to think of the contrast, the flow, and the movement, and you will be hitting party decoration gold! You’ll be surprised how often you see it in your everyday life too! Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and contrast!