The Art of Floral Installation Design
Are you wondering how to create a floral installation? Floral installations were a rather daunting concept to many florists, but after smaller flower arrangements and working to themes, focusing on table centres, ceremony pedestals the next natural step is to larger installations. Working with flowers is an ever-growing and developing experience for florists and suppliers like ourselves. We had no experience of where to start, how to approach the projects, how to price pieces, or how to manage our time. Now that we have worked through some of these aspects with some of our trusted florists we feel confident in supplying the flowers and foliage to create their vision.
1. INSPIRATION, NOT PERSPIRATION
Floristry is about finding your floral design style. The way you would approach designing a floral installation is similar to how you would approach meeting a bride’s vision for her bouquet. One of the key features of all floral installations is movement (and sometimes the lack of it). So rather than fixing your inspiration to one word or theme you have been given, try to work around that word, too.
2. THE BASE MECHANICS
The mechanics are not as daunting as they might appear. Remember, as a florist, you already have skills—thinking through an installation is similar to the thought process you go through for a table arrangement.
Think through the following for your floral installation design mechanics:
- What type and shape will your design be? For a table arrangement, you must determine if it will be central and tall or short and trailing. For installations, determine if it will be an arch, moongate, or chandelier shape.
- How will the flowers and foliage stay in the vessel? For smaller arrangements, you might think through mechanics like chicken wire, moss, or tubes. For installations, decide if “mossages” (chicken wire and moss sausages!) or tubes will work best.
- Does it need to be moved somewhere else? For centerpieces, you might confirm if they move from the ceremony to reception tables. For installations, can it be moved at all?
- What angle will it be viewed from? For tables, your piece will be viewed from all sides. But installations may only be at the front of the ceremony and seen from the front, sides, and underneath.
What scale do you need to design for? Venues have similar tables, standard widths, and predictable floor layouts—which helps when planning your scale for table arrangements. However, for installations, you must think through where the piece will be. View or test the frame from every single angle of the room (even above your head!).
- How will you support the weight? In a table arrangement, you design knowing where the weight will be held. And much like a table arrangement, arches need a stable base. Chandeliers, however, need to have a light framework.
- Where will you install the piece? If you need to hang your floral installation, does the venue have pulleys? Can you see the supporting ropes/chains? Do you need to dress them?
3. WATCH, LEARN, AND PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE (PERSPIRATION)
This step is where you can indulge and find the floral installations you like and aspire to create.
- Mock-ups: Make a mock-up using garden foliage or leftover foliage from other work. Practice different shapes, test weights and stability, and view your work from different sides.
- Work experience: Installations predominantly need more than one person, and other details need attention at a wedding. Try to do some freelancing for another wedding florist so that you can practice your technique under their guidance.
- Finding a mentor: Slightly different from work experience, this is about finding a florist you admire—and not just in their design skills, but in their inspirations and style as well. Ideally, this will be someone who engages you and is responsive. Your interactions can be through social media, workshops, or volunteer event work.
- Learn from florists you love: There are a range of groups and florists who enjoy sharing and helping others learn.
STEP 4: GROW YOUR CONFIDENCE IN DESIGNING FLORAL INSTALLATIONS WITH PRACTICAL WORKSHOPS
The reason I haven’t mentioned workshops sooner is because I’ve attended quite a few courses where the expectation is on the tutor to prescribe exactly what to do, flowers are counted out, and you work step by step, so everyone is on the same stage in the process. These are great if you need to learn a new technique, and your style will show through despite the prescribed design! Just keep in mind that most often, you’re not leading the design here. Instead, you’re following someone else’s design and focusing on mechanics.
STEP 5: BUILD KNOWLEDGE OF GO-TO FLOWERS TO USE IN FLORAL INSTALLATIONS
You probably already have this in your recipes for bridal bouquets and centerpieces, but these flowers may not transfer well to installations—especially when considering the time it takes to build a floral installation on the day of a wedding. One crucial aspect to remember is that wedding or event installations are often not expected to last longer than a day, and you will have made your client aware of this in advance.
- Think outside your comfort zone. Is there foliage that lasts longer out of water?
- Can you use dried flowers/foliage such as Honesty or Pampas grass, and maybe even potted plants?
- Think horticulturally seasonal. For example, a sweet pea vine is easier to find for a summer wedding while hops are better for autumn. However, you can also buy and dry your hops to use for a spring wedding, where you may want lighter textures and shapes.
Hopefully these steps will give you the inspiration to attemt your own floral installation.