Balance is a key part of the beauty of an arrangement. Balance is the physical or visual stability of a floral design. Balance refers to the arrangement’s equilibrium or equality in weight, both physical and visual.
Physical balance is the actual stability of plant materials within the container. A design with physical balance has secure mechanics (the foam and the flowers do not move or shift) and can stand on its own in a stable manner and not fall over
Visual balance refers to the perception of an arrangement being in balance or being equal in weight on both sides of the central axis A floral design lacking balance is visually unsettling like a crooked picture or a shirt buttoned the wrong way. Poor visual balance in the floral design will overshadow other attractive aspects of the design, such as proper proportion or an effective center of interest.
Physical and visual balance must both occur for a design to be successful. An arrangement may be physically secure through good mechanics, yet lack visual balance. A beautiful visually balanced design may even topple over during a banquet because the physical balance is poor.
Visual balance in an arrangement should be evident in three views:
- from side to side;
- from top to bottom;
- from front to back.
Floral designs exhibit two types of visual balance. They are symmetrical and asymmetrical balance. To check a floral design for balance, image lines dissecting the design into four equal quadrants, vertically and horizontally. Both symmetrical and asymmetrical designs should have equal visual weight on either side of the central axis (side to side). The upper portion of the design (above the imaginary line equally dividing the upper and lower parts of the design) should be lighter in weight. The greater weight of the arrangement should be located in the lower portion, near the container rim. Next, turn the design to the side and check for a smooth transitional flow of flowers from front to back. At the top of the arrangement, the flowers should not be leaning too far forward or too far backward. The outline of the flowers should follow the line of the designer’s gently curved hand. The top flowers should not “umbrella” or lean out over the lower flowers.
Symmetrical balance in a floral design occurs when both sides of the design have or seem to have the same physical weight. The weight and appearance of the materials on either side of the imaginary central vertical line are similar. Although the design should have equal weight on each side, it should not be an exact mirror image Symmetrical balance is a European inheritance and is called formal balance. This type of balance is dignified, restful, predictable, and even grand and impressive.
Although symmetrical balance is called formal balance, clever additions can make it interesting and not so predictable. The use of a dynamic center of interest, clever flower placements (groupings), and accessories can “jazz up” this formal design.
A symmetrical arrangement is usually displayed against a symmetrical background and with symmetrically placed accessories. For example, place a pair of candles, one on each side of a symmetrical centerpiece, or have one, two, or three candles centered within the design.
Asymmetrical balance is a dynamic, informal balance, which has its roots in Japanese and Chinese flower arranging. The plant material and manner of placement are different on each side of the central vertical axis; however, the arrangement must appear to be in balance. An asymmetrical design achieves balance through compensation or counterbalancing. The combined weight on one side equals that on the other with the differences cornpensating or counterbalancing visually. This type of balance is active, creative, and stimulating.
Suggesting movement, asymmetrical balance strongly attracts and holds attention. Space is very important and contributes to the achievement of balance.
Asymmetrical designs are usually displayed in a less formal setting. If accessories are used, place them in an asymmetrical way; do not use equal amounts of accessories on each side.
Examples of Symmetrical and Asymmetrical Design Styles
Many geometric shapes can be designed as either symmetrical or asymmetrical. For example, a triangle can be designed in a symmetrical way, such as an equilateral (all sides equal) triangle or an isosceles (two sides equal) triangle or in an asymmetrical manner, such as a scalene triangle (all sides unequal). Centerpieces can also be traditionally round or oval or can be varied with asymmetrical placements of branches or flowers.
Symmetrical designs include round or oval centerpieces, topiaries, one-sided styles-oval, round, equilateral or isosceles triangle, inverted T, fan-shaped, and vertical arrangements. Typical asymmetrical styles are crescent, Hogarth curve, scalene or right triangle, diagonal, and vertical.