Deciphering the symbolism in our interiors


The fairytale-like beauty radiating from the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles is so famous for its symbolic significance that regardless if one has been to France, the name still rings a bell. In fact, without being an expert, one can immediately recognize the opulence and wealth of the French XIV monarchy and decipher the message of dominance over the arts and luxury. The 17 mirrored arches designed to reflect natural light and dazzle with their detailed ornamentation, is the perfect example of the strong power that symbolism carries in interior design. To contextualize this thought, we are refocusing on symbolism in more contemporary designs that speak to modern society. 

Ricardo Bofill

If you are wondering what symbolism has to do with interior design, let us first give you a hint: it’s actually essential. Symbols- the metaphorical way of interpreting the world- are what deepens the connection between individuals and their surroundings. In interior design, this is what leads to the creation of environments that transcend mere functionality, to evoke personal narratives, links to cultural heritage, and shared experiences that we learn to value more. Symbolism means belonging through an emotional resonance with the spaces we occupy.   


How we can do this

Taking a more strategic approach, symbolism can be found in the colors we select to set a mood, the material choices, objects and furniture representing heritage or a design statement, and even in the types of layout. From open spaces suggesting unity or natural light-filled interiors symbolizing vitality to more intimate and warmly lit rooms; all thought-out elements weave an intended emotional impact. In fact, why not celebrate our cultural diversity by identifying the messages that spaces are trying to communicate through specific designs, motifs, and the use of shapes and patterns in decor. 

Studio Giancarlo Valle

Examples of well executed interiors

As you relax inside the embrace of your favorite lounge chair after a long day, or when you welcome visitors to take a seat in your living room; imagine what kind of message you wish to send out. Is it a comforting one that symbolizes the importance of familial warmth and heritage with a prominent fireplace surrounded by heirlooms and portraits?  Or perhaps you are looking for something that echoes your fashion tastes by selecting a sleek marble coffee table on which to display your favorite design magazines.

Decus Interiors

Culinary symbolism

Now moving on to the kitchen, what better way of reflecting your region’s cultural heritage than through cuisine and the celebration of local flora and fauna with vibrant tiles reflecting the environment’s colors. A small detail such as hand-painted tiles can evoke a sense of community and attachment with local artisans to showcase the importance of sustainability in culinary practices. 

Caprini & Pellerin Architectes

The peacefulness of water motifs

In case you weren’t expecting it, symbolism can even be woven into bathroom decor, ready to surprise with hints of personal history regardless of the location. For example, a bathroom featuring a wall adorned with mosaics imitating water motifs can symbolize clarity and renewal. Such an aquatic theme that matches this room like no other, promotes a daily sense of tranquility similar to a spa-like ambience that promises us a touch of rejuvenation. 

Dale Frank home

The symbols of wisdom

Meanwhile, for the busier occasions when work calls after hours; a home office can also become a nest of symbols tied to knowledge, wisdom, and passion for exploration and learning. The image is clear, picture a study furnished with dark mahogany furniture, leather-bound upholstery, dust-free books, and classic table lamps to illuminate your desk during late hours. This setting perfectly reflects your intellectual pursuits, love for learning, and respect for the timeless craftsmanship that scholars have surrounded themselves by. 

Studio Giancarlo Valle

Sleeping in safety

At last, we have the one place where we can truly release our tensions and give into peaceful sleep. Merging symbolism into our bedrooms is all about creating a space that exudes tranquility, and a sense of privacy. What better way of doing so than by cocooning ourselves inside a canopy bed draped in sheer fabric and soft, pastel-colored linens. This small sanctuary and the gentle colors it is dressed in, can promote peaceful sleep while symbolizing protection and self-love. 


Living with symbols

Some messages cannot be grasped with concrete words, for this we need symbols that encapsulate the truth of our surroundings in simple forms that can reach our minds and hearts. In fact, symbolism invites us to interact with spaces on a profound level, influencing our moods and perceptions. Ultimately, by mastering their use in interior design we can transform our homes into meaningful and reflective environments that foster a deeper sense of identity and belonging. 

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