previous arrow
next arrow

Knowledge of the Elements and Principles of Design is essential in creating any successful art form.

Attributes of Design

Harmony – a pleasing, orderly arrangement of components according to the Principles of Design
Beauty – an intangible quality evoking aesthetic pleasure
Expression – an idea, emotion or mood communication to the viewer
Distinction – marked superiority in all aspects of conformance, design, selection, organization, expression, condition and craftsmanship

Elements of Design

The Elements of Design are basic, tangible, and/or visual qualities of all art and include:

Color – the characteristic of light by which the individual perceives objects or light sources

Primary Colors – Red, Blue, Yellow
Secondary Colors – Orange, Green, Purple
Achromatic/Neutral Colors – Black, White, Grey

Physical Properties of Color

Hue – family name of a color
Value – add white or black, lightness or darkness
Tint – hue with white added
Tone – hue with gray added
Shade – hue with black added

Form – the three-dimensional aspect of an object. All floral designs are a combination of various forms. Forms are either closed (solids, compacts or massed) or open (spreading with space within)

Light – illumination needed for vision. Light can modify forms, affect colors and texture, create shadows

Two Types of Light
Natural or sunlight (sunlight shows the true colors)
Artificial or manufactured lighting

Line – visual path through design. Functions are to establish a structural framework of design, carry rhythm through the design and/or communicate a theme or a mood

Characteristics – long, short, straight, curved, weak, strong, thick, thin, delicate or bold

Pattern – arrangement of solids and spaces can be natural or man-made created by lines, forms and the spaces between them

Kinds of Patterns – color/texture, natural composition and manipulation of the plant material can create different patterns

Size – the perceived or visual dimensions of components rather than the actual size

Visual size varies due to: distance from the viewer; size and color of other components; color and texture – white = larger, black = smaller

Space – open areas in and around the design

Three kinds of space
Total Space – frame of reference (length, width, depth)
Space within plant material/components
Spaces established within design

Texture – surface structure of a component

Characteristics – rough or smooth, coarse or fine, glossy or dull, hard or soft

Principles of Design

The Principles of Design are the basic standards used to judge all visual arts and include:

Actual (Physical) Balance – design remains upright
Visual Balance – design appears balanced top to bottom, side to side and front to back

Three Types of Balance
Symmetrical Balance – design balanced around a central axis – mirror images
Asymmetrical Balance – different materials placed on either side of an axis to provide a sense of equilibrium
Dynamic Balance – implied balance and counterbalance

Contrast – placement of unlike characteristics of a single element together in order to emphasize their differences such as light/dark; open/closed; large/small

Dominance – the emphasis or impact of one component over another, implying subordination and providing unity

Proportion – the relationship between amount and quantity of one area to another or to the whole. It does not refer to individual sizes

Rhythm- the dominant visual movement throughout a design. Rhythm is created by: repetition of form, color or texture in a linear direction

Scale – the size relationship of one object in a design compared to another. Scale differs from Proportion in that Scale deals with individual parts to each other on a one-to-one basis, while proportion is a pleasing ration between overall areas and amounts. Components are “out of scale” when the variations of sizes are too great. However, scale may be deliberately disparate to create impact, such as the grouping of very small materials used alongside much larger ones

Design Terminology

Abstract Design – a design in which there is a dominance of components chosen for their non-naturalistic character and/or components organized in a non-realistic, non-naturalistic manner

American Traditional Design – The National Garden Clubs first original design style, based on a combination of influences of Traditional European and Oriental Design styles

Attributes of Design – Beauty, distinction, expression and harmony

Companion Design Class – a Design class in which two individuals work together to create a single design. Such classes are designated in the schedule in a separate section of the Design Division in excess of the minimal class and exhibit requirements and are included primarily to encourage novice designers from within the club

Design – the organization of the Elements of Design (color, form, light, line, pattern, size, space and texture) according to the Principles of Design (balance, contrast, dominance, proportion, rhythm and scale) into a composition having beauty, distinction, expression and harmony. A design may consist of a single unit or units, with or without other components, artistically combined

Design Components – physical (tangible) materials comprising a design: plant material (essential to all designs entered in the MNGC Flower Show) and mechanics. All others are optional or as required in the schedule: container (with or without base), special staging, non-plant materials, accessories and featured objects

Design Style – NGC typically refers to American Traditional, Creative and Abstract as design styles for an NGC Flower Show, though period designs may be included

Design Technique – specialized procedures and methods for manipulating and placing plant materials and/or decorative items in a design, e.g., grouping, weaving, binding or pave’

Design Type – name given to a specific design in which distinct characteristics are required and significant enough to be identifiable as that specific type

Elements of Design – the physical (tangible) characteristics or qualities of all components chosen for a design. They are color, form, light, line, pattern, size, space and texture and referred to as the “working ingredients”

European Traditional Design – period designs of massed plant material and occasionally other items from nature. Such designs influenced the first American Traditional Design Style

Floral Design – the result achieved when arranging plant material based on the Elements and Principles of Design

Free-Standing Design – a design to be viewed from all sides

Oriental Design – design Style from the Orient in which line design is emphasized. Such designs influenced American Traditional Line and Line-Mass Designs. The Japanese word for flower arranging is “Ikebana”

Principles of Design – basic art standards by which the Elements of Design must be organized. They are balance, contrast, dominance, proportion, rhythm and scale