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Principles of design as applied to flower arrangement

The basic principles of art are also applicable to the art of flower arrangement. The principles are as follows:-

  • Design

  • Scaling/Proportion

  • Balance

    • Physical

    • Visual

    • Suitable Background

    • Variation

  • Rythm

  • Proper use of Colour

  • Emphasis

  • Harmony

  • Distinction

  • Repetition


All arrangements should have a proper design; that is the structural pattern of the arrangement which determines the shape, size, and suitability of the various component parts and their relationship to each other.

For creating a good design the following points should be considered:

  • The stems should all flow from a central point, avoiding cross stems.

  • The focal point(the central area from which flowers and foliages appear to emerge) should be the tallest point.

  • The flower used should not be monotonous.

  • The height, width and depth are required to be proportionate.

  • The shape ought to be clearly defined.


Means the size relationship between the component parts of an arrangement, involving a good proportion of plant material, container, size and function.

To achieve correct scaling the points to be borne in mind are:

  • One should avoid using together very different types of material.

  • Put huge flowers in a large low container rather than in a tall narrow one.

  • No flower should be more than one-third of the size of the container.

  • If a round vase is used then use a round base.

  • One should fill ⅔ of the space in a given vase & use the surrounding space to set off the arrangement.

  • The height of the material should be 1 & 1½ times the height of the container (or the width of the container if it is long & low).


It is shown in the way in which materials are grouped in a design and physical as well as visual balance needs to be considered. The components of balance are a form(a size which creates apparent weight) and colour (Darker colour gives an impression of weight).


  • Symmetrical balance: This occurs when the material is so arranged that if we draw an imaginary line through the centre of the arrangement one would find a visually equal distribution of material on each side of the line.

  • Asymmetrical balance: This is so placed that high and light material on one side of the imaginary line, balanced by larger shorter material on the other side

  • Balance by placement: Means that the arrangement is placed to one side of a long base.

  • Balance by accessories: Means that anything from a figurine to leaves may be used on the weakest side.

B) VISUAL BALANCE: It can be achieved by following the points:

  • Dark flowers look heavier than pale ones.

  • Round flowers look heavier than conical ones.

  • Large flowers to be placed centrally and close to the bottom of the arrangement.

C) SUITABLE BACKGROUND: The various aspects to be considered are:

  • Style of the room

  • Size of the room

  • Type of wall surface

  • Practicality

D) VARIETY OF PLANT TEXTURE: Plant material comes in various textures like glossy, velvety, dull, and prickly. A glossy flower is brightened when placed next to matt foliage.


This is the feeling of motion created by using curved lines. It can be achieved by:

  • Using graduating sizes or different degrees of opening of the flowers

  • Using curves stems

  • Using foliages of various sizes and contrasting shapes

  • Having an irregular line of various–sized blooms


Colours should be used judicially.


Emphasis should be achieved by creating a focal point or centre of interest. The usual methods of achieving emphasis are:

  • Include a small group of bold flowers (dominant material)

  • Use an unusual container

  • Use striking foliage and use dark leaves to accentuate light colours.


In the finished arrangement as a whole, the material used, the container, and accessories should harmonize into one overall framework.


This is the most important asset. Either your arrangement has it or not. It is achieved by:

  • Using unusual material

  • Unusual method of emphasis has been used

  • The colour combination is useful

  • The finish is perfect

  • A good contrast has built up a strong design.


In colour and form is essential for the arrangement to look harmonious but it should not be carried too much. If not followed the arrangement looks incomplete and if overdone it is monotonous.

The location of a flower arrangement affects the ‘principles of design’, as follows

1. Table arrangement

This refers to the arrangements used to decorate tables for seated meals, banquets, buffets, etc. These should be –

  • a) Simple – e.g. fruits placed in a low container, two or three flowers and a few leaves in a small container, etc.

  • b) Appropriate in size – since the table is in use for eating and not for showing flowers, the arrangement should be small and neat and not so large and overflowing so to fall into the plates, etc. It should not be too dominating.

  • c) Proper in shape – flowers should never interfere with a conversation on the dining table. A low arrangement is most suitable and the design should look attractive from all sides. The shape of the table will usually dictate the shape of the flower arrangement. A rectangular table may need a design that is long, etc.

2. Reception desk

Bold arrangements are made keeping in view the large counters they have to be put on and they should command a dominant position where they can be viewed by a large number of people. Normally it should be front-facing.

3. Guest rooms

Strong smelling flowers should be avoided and the arrangement should not be large for a small room or vice-versa. This means that the arrangement should be in size and proportion to the room and site. Most arrangements are either placed on a coffee table or dining table ( in suites) when they should be round and on writing tables, usually with the back to the wall in which case they can be front-facing.

It is important to note that flower arrangements are kept at different eye levels which would affect the actual height of the arrangement. As a rule in a tall flower vase – the height of the tallest floral material should be one and a half to two times the length of the vase. In a higher level placed flower arrangements are kept above the eye level and have the largest stem reduced below accepted measure so as to conform to the visual scale of proportion. In lower flower arrangements should not have the largest stem over and above the accepted scale.


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