June 01, 2024

Freeform Architecture in Design: Soft Lines and Curves

Freeform Architecture in Design: Soft Lines and Curves

Curves in Architecture: A Journey through Soft Lines and Emotional Harmony

Architectural photography prints encompass both the ‘awe’ towards the design itself and the magnificence of the infrastructure as the subject through a photographer’s lens. Though the majority of works exhibited in our gallery feature different styles of nature, landscape, coastal and travel images, we have several curated collections featuring various Architectural Prints from all over the world. In this article, we will be focusing on curved lines and curvy designs in architecture and will be taking a look at its history, reviewing the psychological benefits of freeform or organic architecture, and how each era of architecture influences today’s designs.

 Interior Design with curvy lines

Image & Design of Myfresh Café in Panchkula, India by Loop Design Studio


Embracing a Curved Future Beyond Modernism's Sharp Edges

“Against the creative backdrop of recent post-pandemic years, curves are back into fashion in the field of architecture and design. This new trend has to do with both the structural profile of public and representative buildings, and the interior design field.” - Idealwork.com

In the wake of recent post-pandemic creativity, curves have resurged in the realms of architecture and design, defying the sharp edges of modernism. The shift towards softer, curvilinear aesthetics signals a departure from the once predominant sleek and angular features of modern design.

Spending much more time indoors and being forced to really live in our homes caused many to rethink, and redesign. Thus, curvilinear aesthetics were on the rise. We now see a reintroduction of features such as curved walls, archways, arched doors, and sinuous furniture. These soft lines and curved interiors not only reflect an atmosphere of comfort and warmth, but are also reminiscent of organic design and nostalgia for the shapes and beauty found in nature (i.e. crescent waves, or profiles of mountains).


arched moroccan doorway

Image:  “The Palace” by John Scanlan


The Emotional Benefits of Soft Interiors

Research indicates a distinct emotional impact of curved versus straight lines in interior design. Studies reveal that individuals surrounded by organic, curvilinear environments experience greater ease and comfort compared to those in rectilinear settings, who often exhibit heightened levels of anxiety and stress. The absence of straight lines in nature aligns with the idea that curvilinear designs resonate more harmoniously with the human psyche, eliciting feelings of pleasure, contentment, and tranquility. In contrast, rectilinear forms are often associated with negative emotions like stress and irritability, emphasizing the soothing influence of soft lines on emotional well-being.

“It has been stated over and over how much more compatible the free-flowing curved forms are to the human body and mind compared to rectilinear forms of modern architecture. After all, there are no straight lines in nature. A great deal of organic…architecture, which now seems to be more popular than ever, revolves around the idea that the application of curvilinear surfaces in architectural design has a positive effect on human emotions and well-being…Even though the participants appraised these simulated grayish environments as generally bland and uninteresting, curvilinear forms elicited more pleasant emotions than did rectilinear forms. Pleasant…emotions such as feeling pleased, peaceful, contented, calm, and relaxed were associated with the curvilinear settings more. The unpleasant…emotional states such as feeling stressed, annoyed, and angry were associated more with the rectilinear settings.” - Željka Pačalat & Purva Ladge


Modern Bathroom with Arched Alcoves

Image & Design by Anthology Creative Studio


Tracing the Evolution of Curvilinear Architecture

To fully appreciate the enduring allure of soft lines and curved designs, we must reflect on their historical evolution. From the dome-shaped marvels of ancient Greece and Rome to the intricate cathedrals of the Gothic era, curved architecture has left an indelible mark on design history. 

Let's begin by exploring Traditional Architecture, particularly focusing on the architectural marvels of Ancient Greece and Rome. These civilizations are renowned for their iconic dome-shaped structures, which not only exemplify their advanced engineering skills but also reflect their cultural and religious values. The Pantheon in Rome, with its massive, unreinforced concrete dome and oculus, stands as a testament to Roman ingenuity. Similarly, the cathedrals of Santorini, though built later and influenced by subsequent architectural styles, showcase the enduring legacy of Greek architectural principles. These domed edifices highlight the Greeks' appreciation for beauty and harmony in their built environment. 


black and white photo Roman architecture


photograph of the blue domed buildings in Greece
abstract photograph of Greek buildings

The evolution of classic, curvilinear architecture eventually gave rise to Gothic Architecture, characterized by its cathedrals with pointed arches and ribbed vaults. This style, emerging in the High Middle Ages, retained the soft lines and curves of earlier designs while introducing verticality and light. 

black and white photograph of a domed Italian building
historic building in Havana, Cuba


Centuries later, the advent of the Industrial Revolution marked a significant shift in architectural design. The introduction of new, lighter building materials paved the way for Expressionism, characterized by abstract and biomorphic forms. Notable structures from this era, like Germany's Einstein Tower, set the stage for 20th-century Modernism and Contemporary designs. 

Today, the influence of historical architectural styles is evident in modern designs, where the timeless appeal of curvilinear forms continues to be a prominent feature.


gothic tower in Balboa Park

Image: “Tower and Dome” by Roy Kerkchoffs


The Golden Gate Bridge

Image: “Iconic” by Sandra Kourah


The enduring presence of curved lines in architecture speaks to their timeless appeal and soothing effects on our emotions. Whether integrating curved elements into your living spaces or appreciating them through art and decor, the profound impact of soft lines on our surroundings is impossible to ignore.  

As Louis Sullivan, American architect known as the “Father of Skyscrapers”, claims, “Form follows function.” Now, whether that function relates to the benefits of efficiency, creativity, or immersing yourself in a soothing environment, we can see just how much curvilinear architecture has influenced the world.

Even if your home doesn’t feature curved archways, walls, decor or furniture, we recommend incorporating architectural curves into your home with Fine Art Photography Prints instead. This blog features just a small selection of photographic images featuring curved lines in architecture, but we invite you to explore the Architectural Curves collection to discover more. Find your #whitewallremedy!