Designing for Flexibility – Displaying Photos

One of the fun things about blogging is the chance encounters you have with fellow bloggers who you probably wouldn’t have run into otherwise. For example, if I hadn’t started this blog I probably would have never come across Anna Nahman who writes L’Essenziale, a design blog that focuses mostly on interiors. If you’re looking to get some ideas on interior design then you should head over and have a look. I’m not just gushing because she’s Russian, either (even though I secretly wish I was Russian, too); I really do enjoy seeing her posts show up in my reader. One recent post of hers was about displaying art, so I thought I’d talk about how I decided to go about displaying the pictures Angela and I have.

Angela and I have no shortage of photos, but we do have a shortage of frames. Since I knew we would be adding frames later I didn’t want to lay out the frames we had in such a way that we couldn’t add on later. Take a look at what we have now:

Flexibility_Base Layout

What we have is a single floor lamp in the corner which does a shit job of lighting these pictures. I’d like to do something about it but I don’t have enough money for the giant ridiculous floor lamp that I want. So let’s just look past that right now and focus on the layout of the frames. What I did was take the three largest frames and arrange them in the middle of the wall to create a visual anchor point. If you’ll notice, I arranged them in a shape that has rotational symmetry, not lateral symmetry.


If I had arranged the frames in a way that was symmetrical right down the middle of the wall, any new frames would throw off the visual balance of the overall composition. By choosing a shape that has rotational symmetry I established an underlying order to the composition that allows for flexibility in the future. New frames can be added without looking weird. Take a look.

Flexibility_Future Layout

Any one or all of those teal rectangles could be added individually and the composition is still balanced and focused by the large frames in the middle. By putting a little bit of thought into the base arrangement up front I saved myself from having to rearrange the picture frames every time I want to add a new one. It also gives me the freedom to get any old frame from a yard sale or as a gift and not have to worry about if it’s the right size or shape. So the next time you’re rearranging remember to think ahead, decide whether or not you want to lock yourself into a design or allow for some flexibility, and plan accordingly.

3 thoughts on “Designing for Flexibility – Displaying Photos

  1. Thank you, Raymond, for your kind words about my blog! By the way why is that you wish you were Russian ? 🙂 I really love the way you lay out photos on the wall, but you are right – it needs some additional lighting. I like the giant ridiculous lamp you have chosen plus it would correspond so well with black frames – pity it’s so expensive!

    • I should clarify that I have no desire to live under Vladimir Putin. I took a class in college that had a Russian professor and I liked him so much that I took just about every class he taught, which included a couple of Russian literature courses. I guess in doing all that reading and talking with him I thought I had some kind of spiritual bond with their toughness of character.

      This is all a way of saying that I’ve romanticized Russia based on some very narrow experiences, but I think that’s alright.

      • Here I completely agree with you – I also don’t want and I don’t live under Putin 🙂 Great to hear that this Russian professor created such a positive image about our country, and honestly speaking (not because I am Russian of course) I think that Russian literature is the best (even talking about modern writers not only Dostoevsky or Tolstoy).


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s