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As visionaries we are always on the lookout for the next big thing or perhaps that next moment of inspiration to help propel our creative minds to what maybe our latest crowning achievement. And while most of us are quick to do a google search for ‘designs that inspires’, you might want to take a closer look at admiring the natural design provided by the world around us. Our case in point, while most artists have their preferred medium to work with i.e. paint, pixels or clay, in Japan they are using flowers or a technique called Ikebana.

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Ikebana meaning “arranging flowers” or “making flowers come alive” is a long-cherished way of Japanese flower arranging. Much like modern design it is a craft that values meaning, precision, and symbolism when it comes to every part of the process. It is a form of design that requires both time and skill. It should be noted that these arrangements are not your typical Fast Flowers/grocery store arrangements, these centuries old tradition has ‘grown’ into an art-form that stands apart from others.

One of our designers practices this art-form and shared with us the skill that goes into the process.

“I joined a Ikebana flower arranging workshop in my community for several weeks and I’ve been taught some techniques/rules about the art of Ikebana, and Japanese floral arrangement. I found they are interesting and share the some common principles with Graphic Design.”

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Takeaways & Principles of Ikebana Flower Arrangement include:
  • Playing with shape / form / colors
  • Minimalistic, harmony and balanced
  • The importance of the space
  • Observing the beauty of nature
  • Stay focused, calm, away from your busy mind

Also much like design considerations of color, line, form, and function guide the construction of the work. The resulting forms are varied and often unexpected. Ikebana arrangements can range widely in terms of size and composition, from a piece made from a single flower to one that incorporates several different flowers, branches, and other natural objects.

Beginners are taught basic technical skills like how to properly cut branches and flowers, how to measure angles in space for the correct placement of branches and stems, and how to preserve live materials along with the etiquette of maintaining a clean work station.

The 2 most common styles are Nageire and Moribana and are often made using two tall branches and a small bundle of flowers. These pieces follow the three-stem system of shin, soe, and hikae. These elements have traditionally represented heaven, man, and Earth. All other stems are called jushi, meaning supporting or subordinate stem.

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To prepare a basic Moribana arrangement, the designer adds water to a shallow container, then places a small, pin-covered object called a kenzan to keep the flowers in place. Then, the maker selects two branches, one for shin and one for soe, and a flower for hikae. Next, each stem is measured and cut to precise lengths and fixed one at a time, in different angles. To complete the arrangement, supplementary jushi stems are added to hide the kenzan and fill out the arrangement. These principles can be repeated over and over, shifting the placement and angles to achieve different shapes and effects!

The main take away when observing and analyzing this process is that a design with purpose, vision and precision will always be noticed. No matter the design practice it is important to remember that the same rules apply and that when you design with passion, your work just might blossom into something that will remain timeless.

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