Amy Balsters adjusts a bouquet of flowers in a vase resting on a wooden table as she prepares to talk about principles and elements of floral design

Principles and Elements of Floral Design (in 2021)

Why the Principles and Elements of Floral Design Are Important 

What makes floral design so breathtaking and beautiful? The answer to that question is the principles and elements of floral design! These principles and elements of floral design are what makes floral arrangements so striking, visually appealing, and down right lovely. Any great florist knows, without the principles and elements of floral design, there wouldn’t be much of an arrangement to work with!

These principles and elements are what make hand-made, thought-provoking arrangements different from a field of flowers, bunched near one another. Without the basic principles and elements of floral design, floral arrangements would not be special, and floral design wouldn’t be the wonderful art form that it is today! 

I’ve created this blog to guide you along your floral journey and offer my help in explaining why the principles and elements of floral design make floral arranging so rewarding and special.

6 Basic Principles of Floral Design 

1. Balance

When it comes to floral design, balance gives that sense of stability that every good floral arrangement needs! There are 4 types of balance:

  • Physical balance: what keeps your arrangement from physically collapsing!
  • Visual balance: otherwise known as the symmetry your eyes look for in an arrangement.
  • Asymmetrical and Symmetrical balance: symmetrical, meaning your arrangement looks equal on all sides and asymmetrical, giving the appearance of unequal weight distribution. For more information on asymmetrical balance vs. symmetrical balance, check out my blog!
  • Radial balance: this type of balance gives the illusion of a starburst or sun rays.

2. Dominance 

Dominance is the focus of one particular element in floral design, and the amount of exaggeration you can give it. When applying the principle of dominance in your design, be sure to focus on placement. The placement of the dominant element will determine the focal point of your arrangement. 

You can also draw attention to your focal point by accenting! Whether it’s using another flower, or a dainty bow wrapped around your vase, accenting is a great way to practice dominance in floral design.

3. Contrast

Contrast is a super fun way to grab the eye’s attention. This principle of floral design is done by emphasizing 2 elements that are completely different from one another. For example, light vs. dark. Play around with shadows and contrasting colors, placing them in verifying locations within a container to bring your floral arrangement to life! 

4. Rhythm

The main goal of rhythm in floral design is to create a visual path for the eye to follow. The smoother the path, the better the rhythm!

This visual movement is characterized by regular recurrence of elements or features within a design. You can accomplish rhythm by the use of repeated patterns and spacing in your design.

As long as you create a visual path that leads the viewer’s eye around and through the design with ease, you’ve done rhythm right!

5. Proportion

Proportion is the overall relationship of all principles and elements of floral design to one another. A rule of thumb when it comes to using proportion, don’t let your design be any smaller than 1 ½ to 2 times the height or width of your container! 

This will keep your design from looking unbalanced. Think of the location in which your design will eventually go. If the location and/or occasion calls for a larger bouquet, then your proportion should match, but you’ll need a bigger container and thus larger flowers/bouquet. If the occasion calls for a smaller arrangement, your container should be proportionate!

6. Scale 

The difference between scale and proportion, scale is the overall relationship of the size of an object in comparison to its environment. Proportion focuses more on the principles and elements of floral design and their relationship towards one another.

5 Basic Elements of Floral Design 

1. Color

Among the principles and elements of floral design, color is the most important element of floral design! Color is the very first thing anyone will notice in any floral design. When it comes to arranging, your choice of color will determine the overall look and feel of your design.

Never underestimate the power of color. It’s what causes an emotional response and creates the connection all florists seek between viewer and designer. The principles and elements of floral design rotate around color. 

How to know which colors to pick for your next bouquet? This is where I introduce you to your new best friend, the color wheel!

The color wheel is a friend to many artists of many unique professions. This wonder wheel is made up of 3 parts: 

  1. Primary Colors – red, blue, and yellow. 
  2. Secondary Colors – any 2 primary colors mixed together.
  3. Tertiary Colors – a secondary color and primary color mixed together. 

2. Line

Line creates the structure and shape of a design. This element of floral design provides a visual pathway. This pathway draws the attention of the eye and allows the viewer to follow a steady visual path through the design. Without lines, floral arrangements would be extremely dull and pretty difficult to create!

Within the element of Line, there are 4 main directions to follow:

  1. Vertical – stresses height and suggests power and dominance. 
  2. Horizontal – focuses more on width and often has a calming effect.
  3. Diagonal – energetic and dynamic, causing the eye to slow down and follow the movement of a line in order to work through the whole picture.
  4. Curved line – draws the viewer’s attention, but can be softer, allowing the eye to move more quickly through design.

3. Form 

Form is the shape of a design. Of the principles and elements of floral design, form can be identified simply as the placement of flowers. When working with form, you’ll be focusing on the height, width, and depth of an arrangement.

4. Space

This is the empty area around, in, and in between the components of the floral design. 

There are 2 types of space when it comes to floral design; positive and negative.

  • Positive space is the space taken up by matter (flowers, accents, vase,). 
  • Negative space is the space left over and not occupied by matter.

5. Texture 

Texture is the surface of the material you use in an arrangement. This visual surface can be taken in by both sight and touch. When selecting textures, you’ll want to make sure that the texture of the vase, flowers, fillers, foliage, and accents are all working together to make a seamless design!

Principles and Elements of Floral Design 

Now that you’ve dived into the principles and elements of floral design, you’re ready to take your floral game to the next level! With these principles and elements of floral design in mind, you’ll be sure to create well-balanced floral masterpieces in no time. If you have any further questions on the basic principles and elements of floral design, be sure to reach out to me here on my website! Have fun designing, friends! 

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