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Basics of floral design.

Design is the aesthetic combination of elements and principles to suit a specific purpose. The materials used are named elements. These elements contain components of color, size, line, pattern, form, and texture. In floral design plant material is used as the elements.

Principles are the visual balance, proportion, rhythm, unity, contrast, and harmony of materials being used. When the elements are combined, the secondary principles of accent, repetition, emphasis, scale, tension, and opposition, are produced.

With practice, identifying floral materials by their dominant features will help in applying the elements with the principles to achieve an aesthetically pleasing composition.

This book reinforces the identification of a material by its dominant feature: their uses as line, form, filler, and mass. Doing so strengthens the logical placement within any arrangement. Dominant features as stated in the book are defined as follows:


Line Flower--A spike or spikelike inflorescence with an elongated stem. Consolida, Delphinium, Gladiolus, or Antirrhinum are examples. Foliages or dried materials with linear qualities can also be used to add line.

Form Flower--A flower with shape as its most distinctive feature. Gloriosa, Strelitzia, Stephanotis, Lilium, or Iris are examples. Foliages or dried, such as Monstera, Philodendron, or Physalis, materials can also add form.


Filler Flower--Any material that is clustered or branched and fills spaces between major components in the design. Chamelaucium, Gypsophila, or Limonium are examples. Foliages or dried materials can also have filler applications, for example, Murraya or Goniolimon.


Mass Flower--A round flower head on a single stem used for adding visual weight, or mass, to a design, for example, Dianthus, Rosa, Gerbera, or Helianthus.

The primary principles, secondary principles, and elements-are defined* as follows. Memorize these definitions of principles for applying your elements.


Proportion: The comparative relationship in size, quantity, and degree of emphasis between components within the composition. It is the relationship of one portion to another portion, or the relation of one portion to a whole.

Balance (visual and physical): A state of equilibrium, actual or implied; a feeling of threedimensional stability. There are two types: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Note: This includes the physical balance of a design when it is carried.

Rhythm: Visual movement through the design usually achieved by means of repetition of line, form, shape, or color.

Contrast: Emphasis by means of difference.

Harmony: Compatibility; the aesthetic quality created by a pleasing interaction of components in a composition.

Unity: Oneness of style, spirit, thought, or purpose; the organization of components into a harmonious whole, resulting in a cohesive relationship of all parts.

* Source: The American Institute of Floral Designers, Book of Floral Terminology.


Accent: Materials or detail added to a design to provide additional interest affecting the totality of the design.

Repetition: The repeating of like elements within a design, for example, line, form, space, color, pattern, texture, or size.

Emphasis: One or several areas within a composition given special attention.

Scale: The relative ratio of size, or the relationship of a composition to the surrounding area or environment.

Tension: Application of materials used to provide an implication or suggestion of opposing forces of energy.

Opposition: Total contrast to induce tension in a design.

Texture: The surface quality of materials as perceived by sight or touch, for example, rough (Limonium), smooth (Gaultheria), prickly (Ilex), velvety (Sinningia), and shiny (Anthurium).

Focal Zone or Focal Point: One or more areas of greatest visual impact or weight; one or more centers of interest to which the eye is drawn to most naturally. Focal point is one emphasized area within the zone of dominance.


Color: Visual response of the eye to reflected rays of light; composed of hue, value, and chroma.

Form: The actual shape of an individual component of the composition; the overall threedimensional configuration, or shape, of a design or composition.

Line: The visual path that directs the eye movement through a composition; the lines may be straight, curved, or a combination; actual or implied.

Pattern: A repeated combination of line, form, color, texture, or space as a single component.

Size: The dimensions of line, form, or space.

Space: The area in, around, and between the design; defined by the three-dimensional totality of the composition; can be negative or positive.

Texture: The surface quality of materials as perceived by sight or touch, for example, rough (Limonium), smooth (Gaultheria), prickly (Ilex), velvety (Sinningia), and shiny (Anthurium).

Once aware of the basics, follow these helpful hints for creating your designs. Begin by asking yourself a few questions.


* Evaluate the type of event and location for choosing a size, shape, and style of design for your arrangement. Will your design be for a large room with high ceilings or for a small table in a hospital room? What is the surrounding decor? Is it contemporary or traditional? Will it be viewed from one or all sides?

* Choose a color story, establish a color theme. Will it be complementary or monochromatic? Bold or pastel?

* Choose the container and mechanics appropriately. Will you use a clear glass vase, ceramic container, or a basket? Is it traditional or contemporary? Will it be used for perishable or dried materials? Remember, any material should be adhered securely allowing ample room for water in perishable designs.

* Evaluate each flower for quality. Remove all damaged foliage or unwanted portions.


* Recut stems on an angle before inserting into desired location. Pay attention to the materials dominant traits for guidance on placement. Be conscious of the direction and position of stem insertion for your desired style or shape. Should the stem be inserted into a radial or parallel pattern? Will it go in horizontally or vertically?

Use the following line drawings as a reminder of some basic forms and design styles.



* Cover all mechanics. Upon completion, be sure all foam, wire, and tape or means of construction are not visible.


All photos were taken by Cliff Willis, Willis Photography, St. Louis, M0. Individual shots by others are listed below.

Amaryllis sp., Achillea, Allium sp., Acanthus, Aesculus, Anemones hybrida, Astilbe sp., Acalypha, Aegopodium, Acer, Adiantum, Ajania, Buddleia, Dowry Brugmansia, Camellia spp., Catalpa, Celosia orgentea, Celosia plumose Apricot Brandy, Chaenomeley Cleome, Convallaria, Cotinus, Caladium, Cosmos, Chaemycyparis pisifera Tilifera Aurea; Chasmanthium, Dicentra, Dahlia, Echinacea, Eryngium, Euphorbia pulcherrima, Euonymus fortunei Ivory Jade, Forsythia, Fagus, Gomphrena, Gladiolus, Hemerocallis, Helleborus, Hydrangea quercifolia, Hydrangea paniculata Tardiva, Heliotropium, Hosta, Heuchera micrantha 'Palace Purple, Flex opera, Hex aerticellata, Holkwitzia, Lavandula, Leucanthemum, Leucadendron, Larix, Liriope spicata, Magnolia grandiflora, Mertensia, Malus sp., Menthe, Muscari, Mahonia, Melissa, Miscanthus, Nandina, Nymphaea, Hesse, Pseudotsuga, Pentes, Paeonia, Perovskia, Physostegia, Pachysandra, Pelargonium, Pennisetum, Phyllostachys, Piece spp., Polygonatum, Pyracantha, Rhododendron sp., Rudbeckiia, Rhos, Rosa floribunda, Sabal, Sedum, Solidago, Salvia (tricolor), Senecio cineraria 'Cirrus, Stachys, Tsuga, Tradescantia, Verbena bonariensis, Yucca, ZinniaPat Diehl Scare

Vanda--Marilyn LeDoux

Hamamelis, Magnolia stellata--Jack Jennings

Frontmatter Illustrations--Marcia Bales
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Article Details
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Author:Scace, Pat Diehl
Publication:The Floral Artist's Guide, A Reference to Cut Flowers and Foliage
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Previous Article:Tips for care and handling of cut flowers.
Next Article:Botanical entries: flowers and fruits.

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