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Principles of dominance, harmony and rhythm


A principle should be used as a general rule or guide, which should be followed in the making of a floristry design. There are six principles: balance, contrast, proportion, dominance, harmony and rhythm. All six principles may or may not be present in a design. The design can be changed according to the way in which the principles are used.


Dominance is achieved when a single line, colour, shape or texture has a controlling influence over a created design. In traditional designs, the flower and plant material should always dominate over items such as containers, bases or accessories. In modern designs, colour can often be the dominating influence, or alternatively, a single stunning flower. Dominance would not always need to be shown in a traditional design, but would normally be shown in a modern example.


Harmony is used to describe the feeling of togetherness in a design. It can relate to the types of flowers that are used together. For example, spring flowers are available at the same time of year.

It can also relate to a colour harmony e.g. monochromatic (tints, tones and shades of colour). Harmony is more effective in a traditional design rather than a modern one. Therefore, it is one of the principles that does not have to be present in all designs.


Rhythm is around us in all we do and see. A florist will use rhythm throughout a design. Rhythm is best described as the vertical, horizontal or diagonal directions of a design. All three are not necessarily used in the same design. All designs would have some expression of movement and can be achieved by repeating elements e.g. colour, texture and form. Rhythm helps to guide the eye from one part of the design to another. Several sub-principles are visible, these are: lines, repetition, transition, radiation and design points.


Lines can be bold, strong, curved, thick, thin, complicated or simple. All lines contain movement that can be slow or fast. In all designs, lines are visible. In a traditional design the number of lines is limited, but a modern design may consist of lines only. The whole feeling of a design can be achieved using a variety of lines from light and delicate to busy and full of movement.


Repetition in floristry is created when materials, colours or textures are repeated. It does not mean that several different types need to be used. It can be more effective when one type of flower is repeated in the design. Repetition can also be used when considering the container. For example, a curved bowl would look more effective if used with curved plant materials.


In a design the grading of sizes of the materials used form the transition. In traditional designs, the large flowers are used in the centre of a design with the sizes being reduced as they graduate to the outside. This can be clearly seen in nature. For example in the growing form of a tree or a gladioli stem.


Radiation is formed when all the stems come from a common point, then move in different directions to create the design style. It is more commonly seen in traditional arrangements such as symmetrical or all-round designs.


Design points may be more commonly known as the focal area or focal points. It is the area of the design that first attracts the eye, then allows it to follow through to the edges. In a traditional design there is one focal point. In a modern design there are multi focal points.

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