Floral Idea of the Week (02)

Playing with the relationship of contrasts
© FloralDesign Edition

The Contrast "wooden : herbaceous"

Lern something about one of the most important principles of design - not only in floristry.

Phase 1: This could be a European winter scene, for example. Everything is frozen and wooden or decayed and dead even. The liveliness of the forms is a reminder of the growth that took place in the previous year. But two warmer days allow previously frozen green to come alive. We find some flowering plants. Still, it is the dried wood that dominates the scene. We feel the wintry cold – with just a glimmer of hope of warmth and life to come. There is not really a contrast in this piece; the delicate herbaceous element is not more than an accent.

Phase 2: Though nature’s wintry restraint continues to be dominant, there are signs that living plants are beginning to sprout, trail and wind across the scene. The flowering element and the fresh green begin to grow into the space that was ruled by the wood. The same or similar scene might easily be found and painted in the garden or in nature. Yet we always give in to the urge to recreate these processes and feelings with the materials and techniques of floral design.

Phase 3: Now – it could be March in Central Europe – the living plants emerge in leaps and bounds. In their most delicate form they seem ubiquitous, even though the lifeless materials are still clearly present. Emotions change: we feel a new joy of life take hold, though winter is not yet quite forgotten.

Phase 4: The metamorphosis is complete. The living plants are now clearly predominant. It is like being in nature in May: The wooden element of the bushes, trees and forests is nearly obscured by green foliage and the flowering parts of trees and plants. Wooden structures and textures are only barely perceptible. And even beyond these elements, the decisive push that creates the feeling of happiness in the onlooker is of course the light, bright, contrasting colours. For every floral designer this latter element is a very expressive component for directing the emotions.

Impression: lifeless : lively

Contrast of materials wooden : herbaceous
Contrast of materials dry : fresh
Colour contrast light : dark
Farbkontrast hell : dunkel
Complementarity contrast yellow-green : red-violet
Contrast of volume many : few
Contrast of extension thick : thin

You can find out more
about contrasts in the book of Gregor Lersch „The Relationship of Contrasts“ – a spezial textbook for the creative application of a design principle. The game of opposites is – not only in floristry – one of the most expressive design elements. It is particularly important to find the right dosage of two extreme positions in order to find the level between tension and rest, colour and non-colour, diversity and reduction that we intend, and can then apply to make our emotional statement. This can not be achieved without proper practice.
Gregor Lersch has analysed the main contrasts in floristry which are used to steer emotion. Using many step-by-step examples, he illustrates the possible transformations and nuances.