Design Principles

The principles of design apply not only to Flower arranging but to every kind of artistic discipline. They evolved over centuries as artists recognized why some designs worked well and others did not. As you work with floral material, keep all of these principles in mind to achieve a harmonious, finished product.


  • Balance
  • Scale & Proportion
  • Rhythm
  • Contrast
  • Dominance



Refers to the sense of stability in an arrangement. A well-balanced design leaves no sense of being lopsided or top-heavy when viewed from any angle. Symmetry is usually associated with balance, although an asymmetrical design with a low centre of balance can be successfully created. Locating the focal point properly is necessary to provide a feeling of stability.

Scale & Proportion

Both touch on relationships between aspects of an arrangement. However, while scale refers to actual sizes of objects, proportion deals with areas and quantities. For example, a large, heavy container would be out of scale with small Flowers and an arrangement would be out of proportion if its height were three times that of the container.


Brings movement to mind and it is the movement of the eye through an arrangement that sustains interest and produces a sense of beauty. This flow is created by using contrasts of color, form and depth; curving or irregular lines; changes in texture; repetition and graduation of color or size.


Emphasizes the differences between two elements and, in so doing, brings both into greater prominence. It is also used to prevent boredom from creeping into an arrangement.


Refers to the ability of an element to command interest. It is closely related to balance and often the dominant feature is found at the focal point of a design in the form of massed color or unusual shape.