Creating a simple table arrangement by Matthew Landers

We have asked Matthew Landers to share his tips on how to create a simple table arrangement.

People will often look at floristry and think “I can do that” or “It’s easy, any fool can do this”, it’s not until you are mid-way through your very first Floral Design that you realise perhaps it wasn’t quite as easy as you thought.

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When you’re just starting out, it’s important not to over commit your expectations. You’re not going to create a design that looks exactly like the one that I have made on the first go. It’s also important to go with the flow of the natural materials that you’ve been presented. If you love everything to be lined up nice and straight and orderly, then you’re presented with curved stems that won’t sit exactly where you want them to, you need to embrace the beauty presented to you and maximise it in your design.

Start out with simple shapes. Floristry is all about shapes (mainly triangles). You can select a traditional shape and use it in a modern way. I’ll often think “How can I use a familiar shape, in an unfamiliar way?”.In this workshop, we chose to work with a simple crescent shape. The half-moon is a great way to create an asymmetrical design. It also allows your eye to be easily lead around the design which is important, especially when you’re just a beginner.

The rule book of Floristry consists of the Principles and Elements of Design. Whilst the Principles of Design aren’t present in everything we create, the Elements are in every single design created. It’s important to always refer to the Elements when selecting materials and throughout the creative process.

This is not only the different shapes of the botanical materials, but also the shapes of any base mediums such a vessel etc. It’s important to have a great mix of shapes in a design. Round or spherical forms tend to be more Passive and your eye will hold on these forms, creating a focal area or area of dominance. Active forms are more linear, not rounded forms that will generally lead your eye into these more passive shapes.
During this workshop, creating a crescent shape, it’s important to have the more passive, round forms in the centre of the design (close to the vessel) and lead out into more active, linear forms from the centre.

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There are many, many different colour harmonies. Some work well in floristry and some certainly don’t. Generally, I prefer to work with a Monochromatic colour palette, meaning all the Shades, tints and tones of one colour (on the colour wheel). In this workshop, we’re going to work in a split-complimentary colour harmony, which is basically, a quarter of the colour wheel. Something to remember with colour is Greyscale. Black is very passive, meaning some colours really pop off and some colours get really absorbed and lost. White is super aggressive and will often take over a delicate colour palette. It’s important not to polka dot white into Floral Designs. You’ll simply kill all the other colours. If you want to use white, transition the colour from White, Ivory, Champagne, Pale Pink, Mid Pink, Hot pink. This will look much smoother and visually appealing rather than just White and Hot Pink.

This is a great example of why we have chosen to work with such an easy “Crescent” shape. It means we have a great guide to work to in this Element.
We’re also working with radial lines in this design, meaning that all the stems being placed into the floral foam are radiating into the centre. You need to imagine that there is a ball of fire in the centre of the design and each stem needs to pass through the ball of fire. This will give a uniform radial design and not mix parallel lines into the design (killing the lovely crescent shape).

We’re using lots of beautiful textures in this design. Gorgeous fresh moss over the floral foam, ruffled carnations, matte roses, silky snapdragons and so on.
Building difference in texture is crucial to success in any Floral Design. You want to have lots of variation in texture. Smooth, gloss, matte, rough are just some examples of what you would also look at when choosing materials to go into a design.

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This can be just the small spaces between the flowers or the voids created with the use of shapes. Every design will include space, however this design we’re creating gorgeous space moving from large to small from the centre to the outside of the crescent.
The void in this design (the centre of the crescent) creates more impact to the focal blooms in the centre of the design. This also adds nice rhythm when looking at the design. Your eye travels from the centre, out to one side, then hops over to the other side comes back down into the centre.