Is the Ceiling Spinning?: The Art of Decorative Illusions

It is a hot day. The sun is bright, and you are driving down a long street. Suddenly, it looks like there is a large puddle or body of water at the end of the street. However, as you get closer to it, it either disappears entirely or moves further away from you. All of a sudden, you realize that you have seen an optical illusion. The reflection of the bright rays from the sun has played a trick on your mind, making you think that you have seen water that really is not there.

Optical illusions come in many shapes and sizes. Besides those that appear in the natural world, many famous artists have crafted paintings, murals, and sculptures that appear to be one thing but then appear to be something else when looked at more carefully or from a different angle. One of the most famous artists to employ optical illusions in his work was Pablo Picasso, whose painting Guernica is but one of many examples of his artful crafting of paintings that are more than meets the eye at first glance.

It should be no surprise that this artistic use of painting, sculpture, and so forth to create optical illusions has been incorporated in many artistic disciplines. Take interior design and architecture, for example. Many designers incorporate colors and textures into the buildings they decorate or design to create illusions that fool the brain. With the right combination of hues and materials, these interior designers and architects can create images that look like they are moving or forms that look misshapen even though they are architecturally sound and level.

Using optical illusions in such disciplines is known as decorative illusion, and it is an art in which many people find much delight. Some of the most popular examples of decorative illusion involve decorative ceiling tiles that are arranged to create a sense of movement on the ceiling or to form images that are perceived differently depending on where the observer is standing or sitting. Generally speaking, the residential ceiling tiles that are used for this purpose are made from tin, bronze, or another kind of metal. The varying hues, light refraction, and shapes of these tiles make it simple for a designer to create an illusion. Decorative tiles can also be used on walls, fireplaces, and other places besides the ceiling to create illusions.

It should be noted that optical illusions, whether they are decorative illusions or not, result from the brain's false perception of what it is observing. Information that is taken in through the eyes must be interpreted by the brain. Perception refers to the interpretation of sensory information, which in this case pertains to our sense of sight. If shapes, colors, and other elements of what we see are just a little bit off, it is easy for our brains to be tricked and for us to perceive things that really are not there. That is exactly what happens in the aforementioned example of seeing a body of water on a hot day. The angle of the light, the brightness of the sun, and the position of the observer, among other things, all contribute to the brain's misreading of sense perception to make a person think that a body of water is present.

Skilled interior designers can create any number of optical illusions for decorative purposes. In fact, even those who have not studied interior design in much depth often know certain tricks that can help create illusions to fool the mind. For instance, positioning a large mirror on the wall of a small room will make the room seem much bigger than it actually is. High ceilings will also have the same effect. Thus, many people who live in small spaces employ these techniques so that the ambience of the room seems less closed-in. As noted previously, it is also possible to use residential ceiling tiles to create an optical illusion on the ceiling. Expert designers are quite adept at this, but it is also possible for those who do not have much training to take decorative ceiling tiles and create some exciting effects.

Decorating is all about perception, and setting up rooms and buildings to fool the senses can be a fun way to make a living or working space more interesting. There are many things that can be done with decorative ceiling tiles, so there is likely a pattern that can be developed for your particular taste. Arrange those residential ceiling tiles and other objects properly, and you will create a space that everyone will be talking about.

For more information on optical illusions, sense perception, and how one can use tiles and other items in making decorative illusions, please consult these links: