Floral Design Principles | Methods | Techniques

Become a more confident designer through focus on Floral Design Principles, Methods & Techniques


I'm Mark Pampling. I created Flower Thinking to share my passion for teaching, learning and exploring floral design.

For me, the Elements and Principles of Design are more than theories - they are tools we can reach for and apply to solve design problems.

Thirty years in floral art, design, retail, competing and judging, have taught me that by practising the application of design principles, we can continually find new ways to achieve more beauty - however we may define it - in our work of creating with flowers.

My floral journey began in the world of Floral Art, and I've since found myself in many different spheres of the floral world - designing, teaching, competing, convening and judging.

Designs – Mark Pampling

Photography – Mark Pampling

One thing I've learnt is that applying design principles can help us accomplish more satisfying results no matter what floral style or school we belong to, or what purpose we find ourselves creating for.

Phalaenopsis, Rose, Craspedia, Phylica, Leucadendron, Protea, Xanthorrhoea, Delonix, Alocasia

Design – Mark Pampling

Photography – Mark Pampling

I've designed Flower Thinking's courses to be inclusive of anyone who wants to gain more satisfaction and fulfilment, however they create with flowers.

Dianthus Caryophyllus, Typha latifolia, Vitis, Rosa, Chrysanthemum, Gerbera, Strelitzia

Design – Mark Pampling

Photography – Mark Pampling

All the courses are designed around a theoretical - and practical - approach to designing, based on the schema proposed by German Master Florist Gregor Lersch.

Banksia baueri, Banksia, Dryandra, Dianthus caryophyllus, Zingiber, Sansevieria, Celosia, Typha latifolia, Pennisetum, Strelitzia, Erica, Leucadendron, Asparagus

Design – Mark Pampling

Photography – Mark Pampling

Small class sizes mean I can better support everyone's learning, with a level of detail that is not practicable in very large groups. Every class features extensive feedback, explanation and discussion. In most of my courses, class sizes are strictly limited to 12 participants.

Protea, Celosia, Anigozanthos, Rosa, Salix, Craspedia, Leucadendron, Philodendron

Design – Mark Pampling

Photography – Mark Pampling

Every class is followed by detailed notes and recordings, and I also encourage you to ask questions - both in the class and by email between classes.

Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston fern)

Design – Mark Pampling

Photography – Mark Pampling

Many floral arrangers, artists, designers, florists, teachers and judges have enjoyed growing their design skills through their participation in my Flower Thinking courses.

I invite you to hear their stories in the reviews below.

Based on 73 reviews

Amazing ideas. Thank you.

Designing to Win Uncommon Threads

Designing to Win Uncommon Threads. The course provided the unusual opportunity to respond to a competition brief not once but twice. Using Mark’s detailed ebook as a guide to interpreting a marking scheme and competition brief. All participants produced a design. In a group forum we all received Mark’s insights and expert analysis, including advice on improvements and modifications. Producing a second design with this feedback. Mark held a second forum discussing the second design interpretation from the feedback given. Such a study in floral design and self improvement. Flower Thinking and Mark provide designers to tools to make considered choices in floral designing. I look forward to the next course and learning journey.

Building confidence

Love this book.

Designing to Win (Audience)
Marleen Pratt OAM
Uncommon Threads

I enjoyed the critiqued detail of the 1st design presented by participants in the theme Uncommon Threads. 2nd design was changed to improve its presentation to fill the brief of an opening Event for a fashion boutique.

"Designing to win" is a winner

The intriguing theme,"Uncommon threads", captured my attention and thinking. I initially thought this short course,"Designing to win", would be too challenging. I found that it was actually comprehensive, well organized and structured, and rewarding eventually. This course was about understanding the rules and schedule of a competition. It was about learning how to evaluate one's design for a competition against an essential list of marking criteria for judging. Mark conducted two virtual discussion forums fluently, meticulously and constructively by giving clear analysis with concise explanations. He posed questions and made suggestions on each participant's design in #1 submission. The task of improving/adjusting/changing in order to achieve a better outcome became the necessary challenge for #2 submission.
The learnings from all the other submissions was just as important as those of mine. After having completed this course, I gained a better understanding of the entire process of designing to win and the crucial decision making that hinged on the points/marks for judging. The "wow factor" which can contribute to winning can be achieved by more critical evaluation of a design. Learning to be a better designer is always my aim in participating in Mark's courses. I truly felt that I achieved it and it was a likely "win" for me. The instructional eBooks and video tutorials on competitions were valuable bonuses given after completion of the course.

Thank you, Mark, for this great opportunity to learn from you.

Designing to win uncommon threads

Excellent course, I learnt a lot just need to put it into practice now.😊

Designing to Win (Designer)
Fiona Leman Leman
I thought it was a good title with lots of scope for interpretation.

I thought it was a great course! I learnt a lot from the in depth evaluations of each design, and I think the true value of the course can be seen in the huge improvements of all the submitted designs. Thank you Mark.

Floral Competition Essentials

Very informative,

One Container, Five Elements expanded my design processes and choices. Analysing the container and looking for a link to each of the five elements. Focusing on one element was a disciplined journey, one that became more complex the further I travelled along the path, albeit a rewarding journey. On reflection it allowed me to consider my choices and to give each element of design a voice in my arrangements. I likened it to a choir where one voice may lead but if the supporting harmonies are not in pitch the whole auditory experience is not quite right. I found myself falling to my favourite elements and constantly self-evaluating to see what was often needed, often editing rather than adding. During the group feedback sessions, I gained new eyes not only on my own work but that of my peers. Such a rewarding experience.

I am thrilled to have found Designing to Win classes. Mark is an excellent teacher, looking at the work from both a competitor's and evaluator's point of view. I learned so much watching his thorough critiquing of each design and suggestions on improvements. I would love to try this as a competitor next time. A great educational experience!

Each task or assignment for this course pushes you to think more about placement of components in order to ensure that the elements and principles of design are used to create a harmonious result. Mark encourages creativity by providing examples before leaving you to work in your own way, this is incredibly stimulating. All feedback provided is done in a positive way which encourages you to assess your own work better each time - however I still manage to repeat some of the same faults over and again ;) so plenty more to learn.

Festive Thinking expanded my design process. Mark’s books and video explained the task clearly and with detailed instructions and examples. The feedback session was informative providing suggestions on improvement and self reflection on the design created. Mark’s detailed analysis gives insights into the application of the elements and principles of design. I enjoyed the course and look forward to the next Flower Thinking offering.

This course is totally fabulous, taking one container and working with that in totally different ways with the focus on each of the Elements of design really make you think. Using the container as a starting point for inspiration but then pushing it on alternative ways is most refreshing. Mark's feedback and guidance throughout is so clear and well thought out and is delivered both verbally and in writing. This course is a great opportunity to learn from a master... But it is also self lead in that you choose your own design and work to stretch yourself in what ever way you like. So good I am considering a second round using different container.

That the Festive Thinking courses are extremely worthwhile, cost effective and so convenient to be able to watch the videos at home and then revue at one's leisure.

The sickles are very versatile and can be used in many different ways, not only for a festive design. I liked the fact that a subtle Christmas feeling was encouraged for the designs in this forum.

Festive Thinking provided an opportunity to work to a theme and then see just how totally different everyone's ideas are, when developing that theme. The feedback provided was clear and focused on improvement. It was also great to have certain design styles discussed - in particular the explanation of displacement from container was insightful.

Enjoyed the challenge and learnt so much. Mark's ability to see what might be with a few subtle changes is amazing.

A must if you are looking to improve your designing and challenge yourself to trying out new ideas.

I really enjoyed the course and particularly found the critique process really helpful, as Mark carefully explained what worked well with the designs we had each produced and how they could potentially be improved further. At each stage, Mark explained how the design principles applied and helped me to develop my understanding of contemporary work.

This was a fantastic class and I highly recommend it. Mark opened up my creativity and taught me to look at every element in different ways.

This course has boosted my confidence and understanding of what is expected in good floral design. The practical, eloquent and positive feedback has been really valuable. Not only does Mark possess true natural flair and talent, but also comes with vast experience and above all, is an excellent teacher who is able to clearly share his understanding with his students.

When we commenced the workshop I was quite surprised we would be working with one material and not much else. I was challenged throughout the process which resulted in a very beneficial outcome. Although I was challenged throughout the workshop, I also felt supported greatly with advice and tips from Mark. The opportunity was wonderful and i feel i have learnt so much from carrying out each exercise. Thank you Flower Thinking for this great opportunity to be challenged, to learn, to be supported and to be part of the #designdisciplineexperiment.

Mark has a unique way of looking at design and he has brought that again with this Festive Thinking 2023 short course and tutorial. What I like about his courses are he gives you suggestions of useful techniques, detailed instructions and many examples of unique completed designs for inspiration. After you’ve submitted your design Mark reviews it and gives a detailed constructive analysis about the work. He indicates what works and what improvements or other possibilities to enhance the design. Always insightful and thought provoking. In addition to this, it is so good to see how other participants interpret the brief and the amazing designs they create. It’s a great opportunity to delve into the world of floral design. Highly recommended.

Design Solutions saw a different approach where only two materials were to be used. This was challenging for me as I like to work with a variety of materials. Using my previous studies with Mark as a guide I chose beans and anthuriums. Using all parts of both plant materials. Including the seeds and leaves of the plants. A great experience it, pushed my creativity. I found a different perspective of the value of all parts of the plant.