In the realm of interior design you always hear a lot about focal points. Quite often choices include the fireplace, the view, or the grand piano as the focal point. I think too much emphasis is placed on the concept of focal points. Did you notice … I am making a big deal about points? In my estimation, we should be thinking about the views! My concept is all about focal views … like what you see as you look through a video camera. You are, in essence, framing a view, and that view changes with every turn of your head.
The problem with focal points is that they change. For instance, in the winter the fireplace or the views outside could be the focal point. During that same time within that room, the grand piano is the focal point for a person who is musically involved. With this example, depending on the time of year or whether it's light or dark outside, the focal point changes. If you base your room around the concept of focal points; at certain times it will be, and at other times it will not. It may lose its balance and equilibrium at different times and under different circumstances.
I think the concept of focal views is much more realistic, because of the way we actually see. We do not look and see points; we look and see views! You do not look outside your hotel window and say, “What a wonderful point!” You say, “What a wonderful view!” When you go to a restaurant, you do not request that you get the best point, but the table with the best view. Now it might be the best point in the restaurant, but that best point is the one that has the best view.
We have both a cone of view and our peripheral vision. Although we may fixate on a point of interest, by and large we use our cone of view more when taking in our environment. The human eye has an almost 180 ° forward facing horizontal field of view. The vertical range of our field of view is typically around 135 °.
When we take pictures with a camera, we're always looking through a viewfinder of different sections. We compose the shot or the view within the viewfinder. Even though there may be a focal point, or area of interest, it still is a composition, for better or worse.
When you enter a room, you see a focal composition. And that composition changes as you move about the room and turn and look in different directions. Therefore, the focal point within the focal view changes, every time you turn around.
There's no doubt that every composition has a focal point within the composition, whether it be a painting, a photograph, or a room. But, we do not want to fixate on it exclusively. We want our eye to move. We do not want things to be static. We want movement; very much like music. We want things not only to flow, but we also want things to be rhythmic and dynamic, with points of emphasis and relaxation or rest. So, the eye can be in motion, but also alight and rest on something of interest that can be contemplated on.
The idea of focal views is to allow your eye to “take it all in,” while at the same time allowing your eye to stay on things of interest. In this way, you are able to experience your environment in a much more full-bodied way. I think you'll enjoy this new point of view and be guided with a newfound sensitivity to your surroundings and environments wherever you stay and where you go.