For a long time I held tight to a belief about floral arrangements – that the flowers were much more important than the vases they were designed in. Dreaming about the varieties of flowers I would use for wedding centerpieces could take up the better half of the day. Their colors and shapes would paint vivid pictures in my head as I used my imagination to create beautiful displays for the dinner tables. But the vases? Well, the vases were needed, for sure, but they always came secondary to the flowers. After-all, flowers were the true star of the show (after the couple, of course!).
Last year, however, I came to fully understand and appreciate the magnitude of the vase. I was making a floral arrangement to be given away as a door prize at a networking event. The design turned out lovely, but something felt…off. And at first I had a hard time putting my finger on it, until I finally realized it was the vase that was bothering me. So I swapped out the light brown compote I had used for a rich, dark wooden container. Ta-dah! It was a small change, but it made all the difference. With a simple change of vessel the floral arrangement went from good to great.
So I thought it would be fun and useful to take a look at different styles of vases to see how they impact the overall look and feel of the floral arrangement. In this analysis I used all blue/purple hydrangea from my back yard and simply swapped out the vase without taking out any stems or adding any additional flowers. There are four main characteristics of vases that seem to affect the aesthetic of an arrangement the most: color, shape, material, and prominence.
While many vases used in floral design are neutral in color – clear, white, or brown – the color of a vase (even a neutral color) can change the aesthetic of the arrangement. In this example I started with a blue vase, which was essentially a continuation of the monochromatic color palette of the hydrangea. I then tried yellow vase for contrast.
When I look at the arrangement with the blue vase these words come to mind: rich, striking, bold. When I look at the arrangement with the yellow vase I get a different feeling: cheerful, lighthearted, sweet.
Vases come in an abundance of shapes. From cylindrical to compote to urn to trumpet – the list goes on and on! The shape of a vase directly affects how the flowers will sit, which can play a big part in determining the overall shape of the arrangement. But even if you can create a similar arrangement shape with different shaped vases, the shape of the vase itself also infuses a feeling into the arrangement. In this example I decided to go with a round bowl vase and then I used a square cube vase.
When I look at the arrangement with the round vase these words come to mind: bulbous, lush, romantic. When I look at the arrangement in the square vase I get a different feeling: modern, different, contrast.
Material is another vase characteristic that impacts the arrangements aesthetic. The material of a vase will determine not only the color sometimes, but also the texture. Texture can be felt directly with your hands, of course, but texture can be felt visually, as well. In this comparison I opted for a metal container and then a wooden container.
When I look at the arrangement with the metal vase these words come to mind: geometric, modern, contemporary. When I look at the arrangement in the wooden container I get a different feeling: rustic, rich, solid.
The final quality of a vase that can influence the style of the floral arrangement is the size of the vase in regard to its prominence. Some vases are low and discrete, while others cannot help but demand attention. Here I used a shallow ceramic bowl and then countered that with a tall vase with a bold, contrasting design.
When I look at the arrangement with the shallow vase these words come to mind: fluffy, full, luxurious. When I look at the arrangement in the tall vase with the ornate design I get a different feeling: unusual, impressive, fascinating.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with me on these comparisons? Even if different words came to you when viewing these arrangements, hopefully you took away an understanding of just how much a vase can impact the overall look and feel of a flower arrangement. Crazy, right?!
As I continue to evolve and grow as a Wedding and Event Floral Architect, my appreciation for different vessels continues to grow. I plan to highlight more vessels in up-coming blog posts. Stay tuned!