PRINCIPLES OF FLORAL DESIGN

Because floral design, like all design, is personal, it is difficult to evalu­ate. If a furniture designer creates a chair with one leg shorter than the other three, most people will agree that the design is unsatisfactory because it overlooks one of the most obvious functions of the chair. With a floral design, such clear-cut cases of right and wrong are usu­ally lacking. The florist who designs an arrangement can be expected to like it. Another florist or a customer may or may not agree. They will all be confident that they are right, but their judgments are usually more subjective than objective. Nowhere do opinions come into conflict more frequently than in a classroom. If teachers and learners are to discuss design based on logic rather than personal opinion, they need a common ground where both master and apprentice can tread with confidence and mutual respect. That common ground is created by the principles of design that guide all creative endeavors. Whether sculpted in marble, woven into tapestries, or arranged in a vase, a design can be judged on the basis of how closely it adheres to these principles.

Simplicity

Even the most imaginative, stylish designs are based on uncompli­cated themes and draw on few elements for their composition. Designs should be limited to one distinctive line, readily apparent to the viewer’s eye. Colors should be limited to a few that contrast or blend harmoni­ously. The container should contribute to the total arrangement and not attract too much attention to itself. The kinds of flowers and foliage used also should be limited; too many shapes and textures can overcompli­cate the design. Finally, the setting and background for the arrangement need to be considered. A heavily patterned wallpaper or dress can add complexity to the floral design.

Focalization of Interest

Each arrangement benefits by having only one center of attention for the viewer’s eye. Such a focal point becomes the visual center of the design. It is usually the point where the major lines of the design cov­erage: at the center of the container and just above its edge. There are several ways to focus a design. One way is to concentrate the mass form flowers at the center of the design. Another way is to use larger flow­ers at the center. Still another way is to use more eye-attracting colors at the focal point. The placement of a figurine, bow, candle, or other nonflower element at the design’s visual center can also emphasize the focal point.