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Flower Arranging: Principles of Design

Basic design principles, when applied to flower arranging, will help you create stunning displays

Just as in landscaping or interior decorating, design principles can aid in creating a beautiful flower arrangement. Design is not limited to the overall shape of an arrangement, but also should be included in the selection of color along with the shape and texture of leaves, stems, and flowers.

The balance of an arrangement is achieved in several ways. Traditionally-styled mass arrangements will have a symmetrical balance: they are the same - or almost identical - on all sides. Line arrangements are more contemporary in style and may be asymmetrical, or different on each side.

A mass arrangement may be "too" balanced; if depth is properly achieved, then the balance remains alive and flowing.

Look at each focal flower and determine its weight from a visual standpoint. By combining the right mix of filler flowers and greenery, the centerpiece will not look overbalanced - or as if it is about to fall over.

The relationship between flower species is important: the perception of one that is too large combined with one that is much smaller distorts the visual appearance. Size can be varied, but not to the extreme. The same rule applies to the size and amount of greenery in comparison to the type and size of the container. If one overpowers the other, scale is off and unattractive.

Proportion refers to the quantities of each component. Too many filler flowers will detract from the flow; and vice versa with focal flowers. The general rule is to have a majority of one element, a very few of a second element, and an amount somewhere in-between of a third. A design can be skewed by too much height or width or depth as well. The container, again, plays a part in proportion and the balance between pot and plants should be considered.

Stem and flower shapes will help guide the rhythm of an arrangement. When you step back and look at your piece-in-progress, study the path that your eyes travel. You want to guide the viewer from one point to another by the use of straight, vertical stems or curving branches. Filler greenery such as ivy can help guide with careful placement. Repeating a flower or color along the path creates another type of guide.

Rhythm is also achieved by forced progression of sizes and shapes. You can add flowers from light to dark, also called color gradation, or from smallest to large for a progressive rhythmic style.

Space is just as important as type of flowers and greenery used to state the emphasis of an arrangement. The emphasis can be a theme, a color, or a shape. You may even want to define a particular texture or objects such as the use woodsy materials or colorful wooden parrots. Line arrangements are perfect for creating a dominant focal point because of their simplicity. Mass arrangements should be managed carefully to be sure the dominant focal point is not overpowering.





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