Advanced Directions - A Deeper Exploration of the Principles of Design

Think of Advanced Directions as a map for a journey that will take us on a deeper exploration of the elements and principles of design.

As the name suggests, this program has been designed as a companion, or sequel, to our popular program Design Directions.

Even if you're new to our offerings, I'm confident that you'll find Advanced Directions stimulating, thought provoking, at times frustrating, sometimes fun and always rewarding.

If you've already enjoyed participating in my previous courses, you already know how much your way of thinking is going to grow.

Advanced Directions is for people who have some experience creating with flowers, with an aim to grow their knowledge and understanding of the principles of design at a more advanced level.

For most of our creative lives, we florists, artists and arrangers work mostly in a comfort zone of symmetrical, radial, and decorative styles.

We don't frequently have the opportunity to combine systems of designing that really challenge our way of thinking.

How often do we create an asymmetrical decorative design with upward directed proportions, organising the materials in an overlapping line system?

Or an asymmetrical formal-linear design with upwardly directed proportions and an overlapping line system … possibly with shallow depth?

Or a decorative design with horizontally directed proportions with material organised in a parallel system or systems, also working in very shallow depth?

How about a wall hanging or suspended design with downwardly directed proportions?

Advanced Directions stretches our design skills by putting a spotlight on combinations of principles that aren't frequently encountered.

By focusing on specific combinations of principles for each task, we create clear direction for working, allowing you to create within common parameters for the benefit of shared learning – gaining better understanding by reviewing a range of submitted work for each task.

You don't need to create extraordinarily large or complex pieces to be part of Advanced Directions, and you don't need to spend a lot of money on materials.

The focus of the course is on evolving how we think about the design process - so just to work to your own skill level and create designs that you feel comfortable making.

This course is more about encouraging you to develop your ability to approach your designing critically, appraising your design decisions through the lens of the principles of design.

By all means extend yourself and use techniques that you want to work on - but what’s most important is that you’re happy and confident with your choices of material and techniques.

Resourcefulness is encouraged. 

Your designs don't have to use exotic, expensive or precious materials.  Completing design submissions with readily available materials that meet the task requirements is more than acceptable. 

A modest approach is very appropriate and can often result in better learning.

Advanced Directions is delivered as a set of 5 online meetings, with 4 practical tasks. The online discussions can be joined live and/or viewed as recordings.

Each task is followed by a live online discussion, based on floral design theory.

Taking the work that you've submitted before each meeting, Mark prepares detailed, considered feedback framed within the terms of the principles of design.

  • The most enjoyable part was seeing all the participants' designs and getting together in the meetings when you would give your feedback.

  • The actual analysing of the students' work and in particular the way you describe why and how you achieved your challenge in the chosen design.

  • Mark's feedback - I think it was detailed, I loved the written report.

Tasks and discussions are spaced apart over a five month period - starting on 26 June 2023 and finishing on 23 October - and they encourage individual expression, creativity and resourcefulness.

Detailed list of meeting dates and times can be found here.

Advanced Directions is for everyone who loves to create with flowers:

If you’re a flower arranger, floral artist, florist, or a teacher or student of floral design, this journey will deepen your understanding of the principles of design, and enrich your own practice of creating with flowers.

Join Us!

Advanced Directions is led by Mark Pampling, the creative force behind { Flower Thinking }.

Mark enjoys working with strong forms and lots of lovely line material.

According to Mark, "flowers remind us that life is short and that beauty is something that can only be appreciated for a short time, so you need to harness the beauty and appreciate it while you have it in your hand. Flowers can help to remind us of that."

About Mark
  • Lawrence, Sydney

    Mark guided each participant with thorough and comprehensive notes and explanations of each task. As a master florist himself, his knowledge, skills and techniques are exemplary.

  • Natalie, Geelong

    Mark is an incredible teacher and mentor and I felt my skills improved with each task. Mark shares his extensive design knowledge and is so patient and kind to everybody.

  • Tammey, Brisbane

    Facilitator, Teacher, and mentor Mark Pampling guided me through each design with a gentle confidence that only someone who has an incredibly deep knowledge and understanding can do.

  • David, Sydney

    Mark thank you for always pushing boundaries and encouraging us to all question why we design as we do. This course is further developing my thought processes in the application of the elements and principles of design. The group discussions provide amazing insights into all aspects of the tasks. Your feedback is considered and on point. Looking forward to the next submission.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

What skills do I need to do this course?

Most of our programs are created for participants with some hands-on experience with flowers and a basic understanding of the elements and principles of design. You don't need to be an expert. The programs allow you to use your existing skills and to try out new mechanics, if you want, whilst placing a primary emphasis on applying the principles of design and improving individual creative processes. The programs are not suitable for beginners or those with very limited practical floral design experience.

Are there any prerequisites?

There are no specific prerequisites. Some previous practical experience working with flowers and plant materials is ideal. Being familiar with the core concepts behind the principles of design, in any discipline (arts, craft, fashion, interiors, etc.), is also a great starting point from which to elevate and expand your understanding. While not prerequisites, participants with an enthusiasm for learning and a desire to take their designing to the next level have gained the most.

How much time do I need to commit?

As per the old adage - the more you put in, the more you get out. However, the practical requirements are not onerous. We encourage and support you to use the skills that you already have, work at your own level of experience and be resourceful in your approach to material use. A simple, time efficient approach to a practical task can reap considerable benefits in learning to understand and grow the power of your own creative process through applying the principles of floral design more consciously. A couple of hours per task is usually sufficient time to plan, design, create and photograph your compositions for each practical task. You are, of course, welcome to invest much more time and energy in your practical task submissions. If you especially enjoy using elaborate or intricate techniques and mechanics and paying close attention to detail, you are equally welcome to take this approach. Whether you have a highly methodical and structured creative system, or a more liberal, organic, free-form process, the choice of how much time to invest is yours.

What sort of tools do I need?

There are no prescribed tools. You will need the basic floral tool kit requirements for working with flowers (see along with any tools or equipment that fit with the techniques you choose to employ - which will usually be techniques you already know and tools you are already familiar with.

What sort of materials will I need, and what would they potentially cost?

Generally, design ingredients are free choice, so you can easily control the amount you use and the amount you spend. Past participants have relied on materials from commercial suppliers, their own gardens and/or forgeable sources. Many of the design examples provided for our courses use only foraged, garden and/or recycled components. We encourage resourcefulness as a valuable learning tool. The practical tasks do not demand the inclusion of expensive or abundant materials. An economical approach can easily be taken for the assignments.

What time zone are the online meetings run in?

Live course content is delivered on Sydney time - generally GMT + 11 hours. Sydney time can vary by one hour according to the time of year - standard or daylight saving time. Times are noted and confirmed in advance and referenced as:
AEST - Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT+10)
AEDT - Australian Eastern Daylight Time (GMT+11)

Can I still participate if I can't make an online meeting?

Yes. Joining online meetings live, while encouraged, is optional. Each online session is recorded. Soon after each meeting program participants are sent a link to an edited version of the recording to watch at their convenience. If you cannot attend a session live, you can watch the recording later. Recordings can also be watched to help refresh and retain any learning content.

Are there deadlines?

Yes. A program timetable is provided for each course. This document details each scheduled aspect, including the due dates for the submission of practical tasks. Generally there is around two or three weeks allowed to design, create and submit images for each practical task. Submission deadlines are usually 48 hours before the live discussion/meeting associated with the task. Late submissions are accommodated, if possible, where time and resources allow, at the next possible online meeting.

What happens if I can't make a deadline?

You are still welcome to submit your designs if you have missed the stated deadline. Designs will be reviewed and evaluated when they can be accommodated, most likely at a future online discussion, in course notes or via email individually. Whilst we will make every effort to analyse and generate feedback on all submissions at some point throughout the course program, this is not guaranteed for those received after the programmed deadline.

I have other questions I'd like answered.

We'd love to hear from you. Just contact us and ask us anything. We're here to answer your questions. No sales pitch, no pressure. Just answers.