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Section 3: contemporary design styles and techniques.

0ften misinterpreted as weird, bizarre, and undesirable, contemporary designs are those that are currently in fashion, popular, and representative of leading trends in creativity (see Figure 3-1). Contemporary design encompasses classic design or traditional naturalistic design, linear design, modernistic design, and experimental design. Often, certain styles of arrangement, such as experimental designs, are considered contemporary and advanced because they are new, nontraditional, and unfamiliar. This section focuses on contemporary designs that are complex or advanced in nature, requiring specialized skills, mechanics, and techniques. Experienced, creative floral designers are interested in advanced and contemporary arrangement styles because these designs offer distinctive artistic alternatives. Advanced design provides a creative challenge and requires floral designers to keep current in their knowledge of design styles and techniques.

Classic Design Styles

Classic floral arrangements are generally mass bouquet designs that continue in popularity and are in fashion due to their simplicity and elegance. Often called traditional, classic floral designs are versatile and may be displayed in a variety of ways. Traditional mass floral arrangements include circular, oval, triangular, and fan-shaped bouquets. Advanced classic styles include mille fleurs design, Biedermeier design, phoenix design, and waterfall design.


Mille Fleurs Design

The arrangement style mille fleurs, sometimes referred to as mille de fleurs, means "a thousand flowers" and refers to having an all-over multicolored pattern of many flowers. Having emerged in the mid-19th century in Europe, this traditional style of arrangement incorporates many different flowers and colors. Generally fan-shaped or rounded, these designs express opulence and abundance with the many varieties of brightly colored flowers juxtaposed in an arrangement (see Figure 3-2).


Step 1 For these traditional designs, choose a container to support the physical as well as visual weight of the vast number of flowers that will be used.

Step 2 If floral foam is used to hold all of the flowers in place, secure the foam in the container. (Do not use floral foam if you select a clear vase.) Without the use of floral foam, a natural grid will soon develop as a tall vase is filled with flowers by lacing the stems. The multiple stems secure each other, and the placement and angling of the flowers becomes more fixed and distinct.

Step 3 Choose a great variety of flower types and colors in order to achieve the "thousand flowers" appearance. Begin by adding taller, line flowers in a radiating pattern.

Step 4 Next, add rounded, mass flowers within the boundaries of the line flowers to achieve fullness and the desired colorful pattern.

Step 5 Add the final placements, whether they are line, mass, form, or filler flowers, to provide forms, colors, and textures in certain parts of the arrangement to give an all-over floral pattern. Remember, the flowers should be arranged in a random, loose, and airy fashion to provide a feeling of natural opulence.

Biedermeier Design

The Biedermeier style originated in Austria and Germany during the post-war years 1815 to 1848. It is associated with a heavy style of furniture, similar to French Empire and English regency designs.

A Biedermeier floral arrangement is generally compact, rounded, or slightly conical in shape and consists of concentric rings of flowers as shown in Figure 3-3. Each circular row is composed of the same flower. Each floral ring contrasts to adjacent rows of materials. The contrast of colors, forms, and textures with each row promotes visual interest.


Many adaptations of the Biedermeier style are possible with spiral patterns or looser, mixed flower placements, still in planned alternating rows. Often berries, leaves, nuts, small vegetables, and other materials are placed in concentric rings alternating with rows of flowers, creating further contrast and interest.


Step 1 Select a compote or other container. Fill with floral foam. Next, with a knife, contour the foam's edges into a rounded, pyramidal, or slightly conical shape. Secure the foam in the container with waterproof tape.

Step 2 Begin by placing a ring of leaves (such as salal, galax, or small pieces of leatherleaf) into the floral foam outward, over the rim of the container (see Figure 3-4).

Step 3 Next, add a ring of flowers above the row of leaves. Cut flower stems to about two inches and insert the stems into the foam until the flower heads gently rest against the surface of the foam.

Step 4 Continue adding concentric rings of contrasting flower types, colors, and textures. The rows of flowers must be close together to hide the floral foam and tape. Filler flowers, such as tiny sprigs of babies breath or statice, may be added in between concentric rings already in place to help conceal any mechanics and to create additional contrasts between rows.

Step 5 Complete the design by placing a single flower, commonly a fragrant rose, at the top of the design.

Phoenix Design

The inspiration and name for this style of design comes from the ancient Egyptian mythological bird, the phoenix (see Figure 3-5). Legend tells of the lone phoenix that lived in the Arabian Desert for 500 or 600 years and then set itself on fire. It then rose renewed from its ashes to begin another long life. The Egyptian bird is a symbol of renewal and immortality.


A phoenix-style floral design has a base of flowers in a traditional, rounded, compact shape. Bursting from its center rise tall, flowering branches or line flowers, which represent renewal and strength. This distinctive design is often used as a party centerpiece or home decoration.

Step 1 Select a compote or other container and fill with floral foam that extends slightly above the container rim. Contour the foam's edges with a knife. Secure the foam in place with waterproof tape.

Step 2 As shown in Figure 3-6, insert tall, flowering branches, line flowers, or other linear material into the center of the foam. These stems should radiate out at the top.

Step 3 Next, insert flowers and foliage at the base of the design to form a traditional round, compact arrangement. Place the flowers at the top of this round design close to the base of the flowering branches in order to hide floral foam and blend with the rising branches.


Waterfall Design


The waterfall design, representative of a waterfall (see Figure 3-7), can be traced back to the early 1900s. Initially created for bridal bouquets in Europe, this pendulous style of floral arrangement, often depicted in paintings of the Art Nouveau period, has been rediscovered and become a popular container design. Romantic and naturalistic, these flowing designs are a contemporary version of the traditional floral cascade.

This style is characterized by a downward flow of materials, often heavy with foliage. Nonbotanical elements, such as feathers and yarn, are frequently added to give an untidy, undisciplined appearance. Representative of splashing, glistening water, reflective materials such as small fragments of mirror and metallic thread are often incorporated into the bouquet to give the appearance of splashing sunlight. Flowers and foliage that are long, trailing, and pliable are essential to form the downward cascade. Bear grass, sprengeri fern, plumosa fern, conifers, vines, ivies, twigs, and string smilax are examples of useful materials for creating the long, curving form of the waterfall design. The materials flow from the center of the design out and over the container edges.

Depth is created through the layering of materials. Layers of foliage alternate with layers of flowers. Colors and textures also alternate within the design, displaying diversity in materials. The waterfall must have adequate room to cascade downward so a tall container is generally needed. However, this design style is also effective flowing over the edge of a pedestal, table, mantle, or shelf. Designs that are elevated provide dramatic results.

Step 1 Select a pedestal vase, urn, or other tall container. Secure floral foam in the container. Foam must extend several inches above the container rim to allow horizontal and downward stem positioning.

Step 2 Select flowers and foliage that have long and flowing curves. Begin the design by placing long, curving foliage to form a cascade on one side of the design. (Waterfall designs may be constructed in different ways. In asymmetrical designs, the materials cascade predominantly on the side of the container whereas in symmetrical designs, the materials cascade all the way around the container, displaying equal balance.)

Step 3 Place additional foliage around the rim of the container, extending it downward (see Figure 3-8). The side opposite the long cascade may have a much shorter cascade to help balance the design visually.

Step 4 Add layers of flowers; some should face outward and others should face downward. Cover the central base of the design with short-stemmed flowers and foliage. Continue adding layers of flowers and foliage that allow the central portion of the design to flow into the cascading areas. Nonfloral, reflective materials may be added to give the design the image of shimmering light. The waterfall should seem to flow from the center of the container; however, some lines may cross to add interest. Arrange materials so that the design will be pleasing from all sides and rich in depth and texture.


Naturalistic Design Styles

Often appearing wild and uncultivated, floral designs termed naturalistic or natural are based on nature. Natural designs do not appear contrived or artificial, but represent a slice of the outdoors. These designs emphasize the beauty of flowers without manipulation. Containers must harmonize with the flowers and other materials in the design. Botanical, vegetative, and landscape designs all reflect some aspect of nature.

Botanical Design

Botanical design is considered a new and contemporary American floral arrangement style. This design represents nature in the study of the life of a plant through the close-up look of a bulb flower. Generally focusing on one kind of bulb flower, the parts of the plant, including the buds, blossoms, foliage, stems, bulb, and roots are visible. The plant's natural environment is often depicted in the design's base with stones, mosses, and other bulbed flowers.

Step 1 Select a low container or basket. It should be wide and deep enough to allow for insertion of small live plants (in their soil and containers) if desired. Cut a block of floral foam, contour the edges, and place it into the container.

Step 2 To show the bulb and roots of the plant, it is necessary to secure the bulbed flower into the foam with a wooden pick, as shown in Figure 3-9. Insert the sharp end of the pick into the bulb, and insert the opposite end of the pick securely into the floral foam. Add more of the same type of flower into the foam adjacent to the bulb and roots to make a natural clustering of flowers.

Step 3 Next, add other bulbed flowers and potted plants to the design to form a natural setting. These flowers and plants should be subordinate to the main bulbed flowers that show the bulbs and roots.

Step 4 Conceal the mechanics (such as flower pots and floral foam) with stones, mosses, and twigs. The base should form a natural-looking environment.


Vegetative Design

Vegetative design presents plants as they grow in nature (see Figure 3-10). This natural design simulates a small slice of nature. Flowers and other materials are arranged in a container as they might be found in a natural setting. (Taller growing flowers are placed high in the design, and shorter growing flowers are arranged low in the design.) Flowers and foliage are selected according to seasonal compatibility. Plants that grow together in nature are juxtaposed with one another in a parallel or radial style. These designs should have visual interest on all sides and may easily be used as a centerpiece.

Step 1 Select a low container. Secure floral foam in the container. Contour the foam edges to provide a less rigid block shape.

Step 2 Work from the top of the design downward. Do not place the tallest flowers in the center of the design. Arrange them off center for a more natural appearance. Arrange materials on all sides.

Step 3 Because vegetative designs are a glimpse of the outdoors, do not alter flowers, buds, leaves, or stems. Leave flowers as they would be found outside. Blemishes, mature blossoms, weeds, and thorns remain in these designs.

Step 4 Layer the heights of blossoms and alternate textures and colors. Bunch similar materials together.

Step 5 Complete the design by adding mosses, rocks, twigs, clumps of grass, and other materials compatible with the flowers and season.


Landscape Design


Although appearing similar to the vegetative style, a landscape design arrangement depicts a larger area of nature (see Figure 3-11). Flowers, branches, and foliage may represent parts of a natural landscape or a groomed garden. Trees, bushes, flowers, and the ground are all represented and organized in color groupings. Patches of foliage, rocks, bark, sand, and moss are placed as they would be found in nature at the design's base to give visual relief from the groups of color. Like the vegetative design, all materials selected must grow in the same environment and during the same season. In contrast to allsided vegetative designs, landscape arrangements are generally one-sided.

Step 1 Because landscape designs represent a larger, panoramic view of nature, often it is necessary to select a large and low rectangular, oval, or rounded container. Secure floral foam in the container.

Step 2 Place taller materials in the back of the design. These branches represent tall, far-off trees. Materials are generally grouped with contrasts in colors and textures, the same way plants are often found in nature. Do not arrange materials symmetrically; asymmetrical positioning is more natural.

Step 3 Complete the design by placing moss, rocks, twigs, and other materials at the base.

Linear Design Styles

Contemporary designs that are termed "linear" emphasize line and visual movement. Clean, taut lines combined with essential negative space make these designs distinctive and impressive. Form, proportion, and rhythm are necessary principles of design in linear arrangements. Distinctive, advanced linear styles include western line design, parallel systems, new convention, and formal linear.


Western Line Design

"Western line" is a general term for both symmetrical and asymmetrical triangular arrangements. Typically, the contemporary application of a western line design is an open triangle with a focal point near the base from which all stems radiate. The framework, height, and width are all patterned similarly to a scalene triangle. As shown in Figure 3-12, a Western line design is an open and striking arrangement. The height of the design is generally at least one and a half to two times the width of the arrangement. These arrangements have a prominent vertical line with an opposite downward sweeping line. It is important not to fill in the body of the arrangement because the open, negative space is essential to give the design visual distinction. The height of the design is often exaggerated while the stems creating the width plummet downward.

Parallel Systems Design


A parallel systems arrangement consists of clusters or groups of flowers and foliage (see Figure 3-13). Developed by European floral designers in the late 1980s, this linear style has become a popular alternative to mass style designs. Each group in this design style consists of one type of flower or greenery. Generally, the plant material is set in a vertical pattern with negative space between each section. The negative or empty spaces allow the eye to travel through the arrangement.

This style of design uses the technique of parallelism in which all stem placements in each group are parallel to each other. The materials within each group may be repeated several times to increase the height and width of each cluster. Positioning flowers in a parallel manner, or parallelism, is a technique that may be used in a number of different styles such as vegetative, landscape, new convention, and abstract design.

The composition's base is generally covered with groups of leaves, mosses, stones, and other materials to form a decorative or vegetative look. Or the base may be left clean, with perhaps just a pool of water or a bed of stones, appearing formal and "architectural." All materials in the design should stay within the container edges. The container should be simple in design. Most often the container is low and rectangular or oval, but other shapes may be used. A parallel systems design displays open balance and is not prominently asymmetrical or symmetrical, but instead relies on a perceived balance.

Although unique and distinctive, parallel systems arrangements are versatile in their use. Because of the open areas within these designs, they work well as centerpieces. Also, they may be made on a grander scale for use in large areas.

Step 1 Select a simple, low container. Secure a foundation area in the container with needlepoint holders or floral foam.

Step 2 Choose flowers and foliage that have a clean, linear appearance to form the various groups. Visually divide the design in sections and establish groups within the composition. Each grouping should be made from one type of flower or foliage. Remember to allow adequate negative space between each cluster. It is best to stagger the heights and spacing of the various groups.

Step 3 Complete the design by concealing the mechanics. This step may be accomplished by using a variety of basing techniques, such as clustering, pillowing, paveing, layering, and terracing. The design should appear neat and organized.

New Convention

Although similar to the parallel systems arrangement, new convention designs not only incorporate vertical groupings of plant material, but horizontal groupings as well. The vertical flower and foliage clusters are repeated low in the design. These horizontal lines are placed at sharp right angles, at the base of the vertical group they reflect. The horizontal groups form linear extensions to the front, back, and sides and are often made in the same materials or similar colors to the adjacent vertical clusters. The horizontal lines are shorter than the vertical lines, using less material. Not all the vertical groups need to be reflected in the horizontal positioning at the base. Negative space must exist between the vertical sections and the horizontal extensions. The combination of vertical groups juxtaposed with horizontal groups results in distinct visual strength and drama.


Containers for these unique designs are generally low and rectangular, but other shapes may be effective. Several basing techniques such as layering, terracing, and paveing with mosses, leaves, and flower heads are often patterned in rows, parallel to the horizontal stems.

Step 1 Select a low, rectangular or rounded container. Secure floral foam in the container. The foam must extend above the container rim to allow for horizontal stems. Begin by visually sectioning and planning the design (see Figure 3-14).

Step 2 Place linear materials to form the vertical groupings. Stagger stem heights within each group. The various clusters should also be at different heights.

Step 3 Next, insert stems into the sides of the floral foam, extending at right angles to the vertical groups. The horizontal lines should be shorter than the vertical groups and extend out in the front, back, and sides over the container rim.

Step 4 Complete the base of the design with short flower heads, mosses, and leaves. Use a variety of basing techniques such as layering, terracing, and clustering to provide textural variety and visual interest.

Formal Linear

As the name suggests, forms and lines are dominant in the formal linear style. Often referred to as high style design or Art Deco, these asymmetrical arrangements emphasize shapes, angles, and clean lines. Through the use of minimum shapes and quantities, and the use of negative space, the beauty of the flowers, foliage, and stems are accentuated. Generally, similar materials are grouped to emphasize shape, line, color, and texture. Lines may be vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or curved. Adjacent textures are contrasted, heightening their visual and tactile differences. Often created with exotic tropical flowers and foliage, this style of design highlights their unique shapes, colors, patterns, and textures. The entire design must be kept neat and organized with clean lines. The concept of "less is more" is essential to this distinctive design (see Figure 3-15).

Step 1 Select a container that will appropriately present the materials and style of design. Secure floral foam in the container. Floral foam should extend above the container rim to allow for horizontal and downward positioning of stems.

Step 2 Select linear materials to establish the height of the design. Group similar flower types.

Step 3 Next, add other groups of flowers and foliage. Allow plenty of space between the various groups in the design.

Step 4 Complete the design by filling in the central area of the design and concealing any floral foam. A variety of basing techniques may be used, such as clustering, layering, and terracing.


Containers are often tall but may be low. A variety of vase shapes are effective for the formal linear style. The container should reflect the high style feeling, allowing it to become an integral part of the entire design.

Modernistic Design Styles

Modern contemporary trends in floral arrangement are often termed modernistic designs. These designs may reflect contemporary fashion, colors, and even attitudes. Often termed experimental, modernistic designs are usually trendy and faddish; yet, for a time they may fill a certain need. Unique modernistic floral styles include sheltered design, pave, new wave, and abstract design.

Sheltered Design

A sheltered design is "protected" within the container. Often, all materials are arranged below the container rim and may only be viewed by peering down inside. These designs, although seeming less dramatic and showy than most styles, require a closer, sometimes longer look. Slower-paced, sheltered designs offer an artistic alternative of privacy and protection from the outside world.

Step 1 Select a container that will allow you to arrange materials within its edges. Secure floral foam with an anchor pin or use a needlepoint holder (see Figure 3-16).

Step 2 Group similar flowers and leaves. Cut stems short, allowing the flower heads to rest on top of the foam. Use a variety of basing techniques such as clustering, grouping, and paveing.

Step 3 Complete the design by concealing any floral foam. Stones, mosses, sand, twigs, and other materials may be added to the base of the container around the flowers and buds. Often, a shallow pool of water with a few stones will give the entire arrangement a restful appearance.


Sheltering is a technique that may be incorporated into many design styles. As shown in Figure 3-17, this contemporary technique can be used to create a protected, covered feeling. Bear grass, raffia, curly willow, and other linear materials lend themselves to simple sheltering techniques. Although covering or hiding part of a floral design is a strange concept, it is the covering that actually invites the viewer to discover what is underneath the shelter. The covering often suggests intimacy, mystery, or discernment and creates visual drama.

Pave Design

The word pave refers to a setting of jewelry in which gems are placed closely together so that little or no metal is visible (see Figure 3-18). Borrowed from jewelry making, a pave floral design and the pave technique refer to flowers, leaves, and other materials arranged closely together in a flat, jewel-like pattern so that no floral foam is visible. The tight clustering emphasizes contrasts in colors and textures.

Step 1 It will be helpful for you to plan out your pave design pattern on paper first. Select a flat or low container. Next, cut a floral foam block in pieces to fit inside the container, as shown in Figure 3-19. Secure the foam into the container with anchor pins, waterproof tape, or pan glue. (Note: Often the pieces of floral foam will fit snugly into the container and remain secure enough without additional aids.)

Step 2 Select flower heads, leaves, stones, mosses, and other materials that will create the desired pattern. Cut flower stems to a length of about one inch. Insert stems down into the foam. Flower heads should appear to be resting on the top of the foam. Similar materials should fit snugly against one another with no floral foam showing through.

Step 3 Continue adding flowers, leaves, stones, and other materials in the desired pattern. Contrast flower types, colors, and textures for added visual interest. The various sections should fit against one another, with no floral foam showing.



New Wave

New wave refers to any various new or experimental trends or movements. In floral design, new wave is a style of design featuring materials that have been changed with paint and glue, and altered and manipulated in other ways (often folded, bent, braided, curled, etc.). Flowers, foliage, and various materials are presented in unusual and bizarre configurations. Discordant and conflicting lines, colors, and geometric shapes are blended. Accessories and containers are generally peculiar in themselves, which adds to the eccentricity of the entire design. No rules exist for balance and proportion. Textures and patterns are often overemphasized. Ordinary materials are used in unexpected ways, adding to the visual drama.


Abstract Design

Often termed free-form design, an abstract design is a nonrealistic floral presentation that emphasizes shape, color, and texture. Nonfloral materials, such as metals, wires, plastics, glass, and mirrors, are frequently used to emphasize geometric forms. Often stems are crossed, petals or leaves may be stripped from stems, or materials are presented upside down. Abstract designs often become interpretive designs, reflecting the feelings and ideas of the designer.


Advanced Design Techniques

There are a number of techniques associated with contemporary advanced floral design. It is essential to know the names of these techniques or methods of construction and how they are carried out in order to make successful, beautiful, and distinctive designs.


Basing is the process of placing materials at the foundation area of a design. Many different techniques, such as clustering, pillowing, layering, and terracing, may be used to conceal the floral foam at the base of a design (see Figure 3-20). Basing provides visual stability and balance at the point from which taller stems emerge. The contrasting colors, textures, and shapes provide maximum visual appeal.

Juxtaposing Materials

For greater visual impact in color, form, and texture, similar materials may be juxtaposed. Several techniques are used in contemporary and advanced designs. Many of these methods, such as pillowing and layering, create an attraction area low at the base of an arrangement, while other techniques, such as grouping and zoning, stimulate visual interest at higher levels in a design.

Clustering, pillowing, tufting, and the pave method share similar application methods; however, there are slight differences. Clustering is the process of placing materials closely together, usually at the design's base. However, materials may be clustered tightly together higher in the design, as shown in Figure 3-21. Clustering causes materials to lose their individual identity and function as a mass grouping of texture and color.



Pillowing is a specialized form of clustering and a popular basing technique. The clusters of flowers at the base of a design are arranged to form rounded hills or pillows. These rounded bunches of flowers form an unusual surface (see Figure 3-22). Individual pillow sections are comprised of only one type of material. When each pillow is a different color and texture to the adjacent pillows, color and texture are boldly emphasized.

Tufting is also a type of clustering, using bunches of short flower stems in a design to create a tufted, airy look. The material in each grouping is generally arranged in a radiating pattern. A tufted design is made more interesting with the addition of a few taller flowers, foliage stems, or curly branches rising from the arrangement (see Figure 3-23).

The pave basing technique is a tight clustering method in which the surface of the bunches remains flat, rather than rounded as with pillowing and tufting (see Figure 3-24). Flowers, leaves, and other materials are clustered snugly against one another, creating a flat cobblestone effect.


Several basing techniques use similar materials arranged on top of one another, rather than side by side. As shown in Figure 3-25, similar materials are placed snugly on top of one another, with little space between individual leaves and flowers. Terracing is the placement of the same materials on top of one another, divided by space, giving a stair-step appearance. In contrast, layering is compactly overlapping the same materials (usually leaves) in a scalelike pattern. Stacking is placing one material horizontally on top of another to form piles or stacks.

Grouping and zoning are methods of bunching similar type materials together to emphasize forms and colors. In contrast to clustering techniques in which flowers lose their identity, grouping and zoning allow flowers continued visibility because they are arranged in a looser, less compact bunch. As shown in Figure 3-26, grouping or gathering similar flower and foliage types closely together gives individual forms and colors stronger emphasis. Generally, taller groups of materials are separated from one another with open or negative space.

Although similar to grouping, the technique of zoning places loose groups of materials in areas or zones within a composition. The quantity of material forming each group is generally restricted to allow a less compact bunch. Each group is slightly isolated from another through the use of negative space. Individual shapes and colors stand out with unusual independence (see Figure 3-27).




Uniting Materials



Several uniting or tying techniques, such as banding, binding, bundling, and wrapping may be used to unite or join materials (see Figure 3-28). Although the terms become confusing, these techniques all serve to combine materials. Banding is a method of tying materials together to draw attention to a certain area or element and is often merely decorative. Banding provides increased ornamentation and generally does not serve the purpose of physically joining materials together. Binding, in slight contrast to other tying techniques, is physically joining or fastening stems together. Although this method is functional and serves an actual purpose of holding stems together and in place, the binding of stems with raffia, ribbon, bear grass, and other materials is an attractive addition to floral arrangements. The binding point is the point or area where all stems come together or intersect, as in a hand-tied bouquet.

A simple analogy of banding and binding is that of wearing a bracelet compared to wearing a watch. Banding may be likened with wearing a decorative bracelet. It attracts the eye and is beautiful, but does not serve a functional purpose. In contrast, binding much like wearing a watch, serves a functional purpose yet may also be decorative.

Bundling is tying or wrapping similar materials together into one unit (such as wheat into sheaves or single cinnamon sticks into a larger group of several) and placing the bundled materials into a floral design.

Wrapping is a technique in which fabric, ribbon, raffia, metallic cord, and other materials are used to cover, coil, or twine a single stem or group of materials to achieve a decorative effect.

Strengthening Visual Movement

Several advanced techniques, such as framing, shadowing, and sequencing, may be used to increase rhythm and stimulate visual movement. Framing an arrangement is a technique in which material is placed in the perimeter of a design (see Figure 3-29). Although the flowers or branches that outline and frame a design initially lead the eye away from the focal area, the viewer is drawn back to the enclosed space. Framing enhances and calls attention to the materials in the central portion of the arrangement.


Shadowing is a method of repetition. Also sometimes referred to as mirroring, this technique increases visual depth. Identical materials are placed closely behind and below the taller, front flower or leaf, forming a shadow (see Figure 3-30). Shadowing strengthens and draws attention to individual forms, colors, and textures.

When the materials in a floral design move in a progressing pattern of change, often referred to as sequencing, the eye is gradually led from one area to another. Sequencing may be easily accomplished through the gradation or transition of materials, especially color (from light to dark, or from one hue to another), size (from large to small), and height (from low to high). A gradual change in elements provides visual flow, increasing visual interest, and drama.

Because contemporary floral arrangement styles are closely connected with the styles of interior design, fashion design, and other types of design, it is vital for the floral artist to be aware of changing trends. Whether the trend in floral design is boldly tropical and exotic, quietly vegetative and natural, linear and high style, or peacefully sheltered, floral bouquets are indeed an art form that can express the times and feelings of a generation of people. Contemporary designs are, in essence, modern period-style floral arrangements.

Because contemporary designs are often unfamiliar and complex, specialized skills, mechanics, and techniques are often required (see Figure 331). Advanced, contemporary floral design provides a creative challenge to floral artists and requires designers to keep current in their knowledge of design styles and techniques.




Floral Arrangement History

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Floral Arrangement and Design

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Ortho Books. Arranging Cut Flowers. San Ramon, CA: Chevron Chemical Company, 1985.

Parkin, Beverley. Say It with Flowers. Oxford: Lion Publishing, ISIS Large Print Books, 1983.

Piercy, Harold. The Constance Spry Handbook of Floristry. London: Christopher Helm Ltd., 1984.

The Professional Floral Design Manual. The AFS Education Center, American Floral Serivces, Inc. Okalahoma City, OK: Times-Journal Publishing Company, 1990.

Redbook Florist Services. Advanced Floral Design. Leachville, AR: Printers and Publishers, Inc., 1992.

Redbook Florist Services. Basic Floral Design. Leachville, AR: Printers and Publishers, Inc., 1991.

Redbook Florist Services. Selling and Designing Wedding Flowers. Leachville, AR: Printers and Publishers, Inc., 1991.

Redbook Florist Services. Selling and Designing Sympathy Flowers. Leachville, AR: Printers and Publishers, Inc., 1992.

Rulloda, Phillip M. Tropical & Contemporary Floral Design. Phoenix, AZ: Phil & Silverio, Inc., 1990.

Ryan, Tamaris. At Home with Flowers. New York: Gallery Books, 1990.

Sincere Sympathy. Lansing, MI: The John Henry Company, 1988.

The Tribute Collection. Lansing, MI: The John Henry Company, 1999.

Webb, Iris. The Complete Guide to Flower & Foliage Arrangement. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1979.

The Wedding Flower Collection. Lansing, MI: The John Henry Company, 1997.

Holiday and Special Occasion

Ainsworth, Catherine Harris. American Calendar Customs, Volume I. Buffalo, NY: The Clyde Press, 1979.

Ainsworth, Catherine Harris. American Calendar Customs, Volume II. Buffalo, NY: The Clyde Press, 1980.

Amer, Jean B. Flower Arrangements for Special Occasions. Nashville, TN: Allied Publications, Inc., 1962.

Chase's Annual Events. Chicago: Contemporary Books, Inc., 1989.

Douglas, George William. The American Book of Days. New York: The H. W. Wilson Company, 1948.

Fendelman, Helaine, and Jeri Schwartz. Official Price Guide Holiday Collectibles. New York: House of Collectibles, 1991.

Redbook Florist Services. Floral Design for the Holidays. Leachville, AR: Printers and Publishers, Inc., 1991.

Floral Fragrance

Bonar, Ann. Gardening for Fragrance. London: Ward Lock Limited, 1990.

Duff, Gail. Natural Fragrances. Pownal, VT: Storey Communications, Inc., 1989.

Lacey, Stephen. Scent in Your Garden. Boston: Little, Brown & Company Limited, 1991.

Ohrbach, Barbara Milo. The Scented Room. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1986.

Taylor, Jane. Fragrant Gardens. London: Ward Lock Ltd., 1991.

Nomenclature and Postharvest Physiology

Bailey, Liberty Hyde, and Ethel Zoe Bailey. Hortus Third. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. 1976.

Benson, Lyman. Plant Classification. Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1957.

Capon, Brian. Botany for Gardeners. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 1990.

Coombes, Allen J. Dictionary of Plant Names. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 1987.

Heywood, V. H. Flowering Plants of the World. New York: Mayflower Books, Inc., 1978.

Kays, Stanley J. Postharvest Physiology of Perishable Plant Products. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1991.

Lawrence, George H. M. An Introducton to Plant Taxonomy. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1956.

Porter, C. L. Taxonomy of Flower Plants. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1967.

Radford, Albert E. Fundamentals of Plant Systematics. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1986.

Raven, Peter H., and Ray F. Evert. Biology of Plants, 3rd Edition. New York: Worth Publishers, Inc., 1981.

Salisbury, Frank B., and Cleon W. Ross. Plant Physiology, 3rd Edition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1985.

Seymur, Edward L. D. The Wise Garden Encyclopedia. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1990.

Care and Handling

Graber, Debra Terry. Fresh Flowers Book 2. Lansing, MI: The John Henry Company, 1989.

Holstead-Klink, Christy. Care and Handling of Flowers and Plants. Alexandria, VA: Society of American Florists, 1985.

McKinley, William J. The Cut Flower Companion. Danville, IL: Interstate Publishers, 1994.

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Vaughan, Mary Jane. The Complete Book of Cut Flower Care. London: Christopher Helm Ltd., 1988.

Everlasting Flowers

Conder, Susan. Dried Flowers. Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, Inc., 1988.

Condon, Geneal. The Complete Book of Flower Preservation. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1972.

Foster, Maureen. The Flower Arranger's Encyclopedia of Preserving and Drying. London: Blandford, 1988.

Hillier, Malcolm, and Colin Hilton. The Book of Dried Flowers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986.

Penzner, Diana, and Mary Forsell. Everlasting Design. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988.

Petelin, Carol. The Creative Guide to Dried Flowers. London: Webb & Bower Limited, 1990.

Oriental Style of Design

Berrall, Julia S. A History of Flower Arrangement. New York: The Viking Press, 1968.

Conway, J. Gregory. Flowers: East-West. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1938.

Davidson, Georgie. Classical Ikebana. New York: A. S. Barnes & Company, 1970.

Kawase, Toshiro. Inspired Flower Arrangements. New York: Kodansha International Ltd., 1990.

Marcus, Margaret Fairbanks. Period Flower Arrangement. New York: M. Barrows & Company, Inc., 1952.

Sparnon, Norman J. Japanese Flower Arrangement. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1960.

Webb, Lida. An Easy Guide to Japanese Flower Arrangement Styles. New York: Hearthside Press, Inc., 1963.

Wood, Mary Cokely. Flower Arrangement Art of Japan.Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1959.

Harvest and Distribution

Graber, Debra Terry. Fresh Flowers Book 2. Lansing, MI: The John Henry Company, 1989.

Guide to Floral Industry Transportation. Alexandria, VA: Society of American Florists, 1988.

Redbook Florist Services. Purchasing and Handling Fresh Flowers and Foliage. Leachville, AR: Printers and Publishers, Inc., 1991.

U.S. Department of Agriculture website: nass

The Retail Flower Shop

Cavin, Bram. How to Run a Successful Florist & Plant Store. New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1977.

McDaniel, Gary L. Ornamental Horticulture. Reston, VA: Reston Publishing Co., 1979.

Pfahl, Peter B., and P. Blair Pfahl, Jr. The Retail Florist Business. Danville, IL: The Interstate Printers & Publishers, Inc., 1983.

Redbook Florist Services. Retail Flower Shop Operation. Leachville, AR: Printers and Publishers, Inc., 1991.

Royer, Kenneth R. Retailing Flowers Profitably. Lebanon, PA: Royer Publishing, 1998.

Society of American Florists website:

Sullivan, Glenn H., Jerry L. Robertson, and George L. Staby. Management for Retail Florists. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1980.

Cut Flowers and Foliage

Bailey, Liberty Hyde, and Ethel Zoe Bailey. Hortus Third. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1976.

Bianchini, Francesco, and Azzurra Carrasa Pantano. Guide to Plants and Flowers. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1974.

Bloemen Bureau Holland. Leiden, The Netherlands: Flower Council of Holland, 1992.

Cut Flower Guide. Gold River, CA: California Cut Flower Commission, 1997.

Fitch, Charles Marden. Fresh Flowers Identifying, Selecting, and Arranging. New York: Abbeville Press, Inc., 1992.

Graber, Debra Terry. Fresh Flowers Book 2. Lansing, MI: The John Henry Company, 1989.

Halpin, Anne. The Naming of Flowers. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1990.

Hay, Roy, and Patrick M. Synge. The Color Dictionary of Flowers and Plants for Home and Garden. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1991.

Heywood, V. H. Flowering Plants of the World. New York: Mayflower Books, Inc., 1978.

Hodgson, Margaret, Roland Paine, and Neville Anderson. A Guide to Orchids of the World. Prymble, Australia: Collins Angus & Roberston Publishers, 1991.

Holstead-Klink. Care and Handling of Flowers and Plants. Alexandria, VA: Society of American Florists, 1985.

Larson, Roy A. Introduction to Floriculture. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, Inc., 1992.

Laurie, Alex, D. C. Kiplinger, and Kennard S. Nelson. Commercial Flower Forcing. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1979.

McKinley, William J. The Cut Flower Companion. Danville, IL: Interstate Publishers, Inc., 1994.

New Cut Flower Crops. Grower Guide, No. 18. London: Grower Books, 1982.

New Pronouncing Dictionary of Plant Names. Chicago: Florists' Publishing Company, 1990.

Raven, Peter H., and Ray R. Evert. Biology of Plants, 3rd Edition. New York: Worth Publishers, Inc., 1981.

Reader's Digest Encylcopaedia of Garden Plants and Flowers. London: The Reader's Digest Association Limited, 1975.

Seiden, Allan. Flowers of Aloha. Aiea, HI: Island Heritage Publishing, 1990.

Seymour, Edward L. D. The Wise Garden Encyclopedia. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1990.

Vaughan, Mary Jane. The Complete Book of Flower Care. London: Christopher Helm Ltd., 1988.


Dateline: Washington. Alexandria, VA: Society of American Florists.

Design with Flowers. Costa Mesa, CA: Herb Mitchell Associates, Inc.

Floral Finance. Tulsa, OK: American Floral Services, Inc.

Floral Management. Alexandria, VA: Society of American Florists.

Floral Mass Marketing. Chicago, IL: Cenflo, Inc.

Florist Magazine. Livonia, MI: Florists' Transworld Delivery Association.

Florists' Review. Topeka, KS: Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.

Flower News. Chicago, IL: Cenflo, Inc.

Flowers &. Los Angeles, CA: Teleflora.

Holland Flowers. New York: The Flower Council of Holland.

PFD (Professional Floral Designer). Oklahoma City, OK: American Floral Services, Inc.

The Retail Florist. Oklahoma City, OK: American Floral Services, Inc.

Supermarket Floral. Overland Park, KS: Vance Publishing.
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Article Details
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Author:Hunter, Nora T.
Publication:Delmar's Handbook of Flowers, Foliage, and Creative Design
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Previous Article:Section 2: flowers to wear.
Next Article:Appendix.

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