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  • Writer's pictureSusanne Desbrow

Gestalt Psychology and How it's used by Interior Designers

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

A symmetrical black object demonstrating Gestalt's theory. If you look at it, you might see a vase, if you look again, you might see two faces looking at each other.

Gestalt Psychology was founded by Max Wertheimer, early in the 20th century. He believed that humans innately perceive things as whole.

The following are some of his principles, that explain how most people see forms in their environments.

Gestalt Psychology Ideas


We group objects by the following methods

Proximity: objects closet together Similarity: same shape, size or colour


Objects to be perceived to be moving in the same direction


Object grouped on context or past experience


The tenancy to perceive incomplete forms as complete.


To see a line or a shape continuing in a direction, rather than making a sharp turn.


We as Humans prefer the simplest, most stable organization of shapes, forms & patterns, rather than those that are complex

Figure Ground

This refers to how people distinguish form from its surrounding. The famous image above shows how an image can be perceived two different ways. We either see two faces or a vase, but not both at the same time.

Negative Space

Graphic designers / Artist often call the ground around an object negative space

For Interior Designers Gestalt's Theory suggests that individual elements can not be designed as single entities. They must be seen as part of the larger environment and that people entering a space will bring with them their own ideas about what things are and how they should be perceived.

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