One Container, Five Elements
Lead by Mark Pampling, Master Florist
An online course in five practical tasks and six online sessions
Choose any single container and go on an in-depth exploration of five different elements of design.
You will analyse your chosen container in terms of the elements of Line, Colour, Texture, Form and Space.
In each of five different design tasks, you'll examine and respond to each one of the elements as it relates to your container.
Using the principles of design to guide our attention, we will improve the choices we make in our process, together.
In One Container Five Elements , participants' designs are shared and discussed through the lens of various designs principles. These discussions are conducted to be supportive and constructive, offering feedback, insight and encouragement. The goal is for all participants to finish with a sense of increased design confidence.
Let's take a tour, to understand how One Container Five Elements works, what kind of hands on work and feedback are involved, as well as the kind of learnings we can expect to attain.
Container Analysis - Line (Mark)
This container looks asymmetrical, when you first look at it, and it kind of is, but closer examination shows the axis is centrally placed. The lip of the vase and the widest lower circular part of the are two circles on different angles. But they they rotate around a single central axis in the design.
So it's a fairly simple container with a symmetrical central axis, but it has an asymmetrical feeling overall. It's made up of both curved and straight lines - the curved lines of the mouth and the body of the vase, the neck and the base but it also has the straight lines between those curves when viewed in profile.
Example Design - Line (Mark)
So I worked with a combination of curved and straight lines, and particularly featured a circular line with that blue ring around the main focal area and then surrounded that by some very straight lines so that I had the same combination of lines above the container as I did in the bottom.I also extended the the central vertical axis and made it made the whole composition have a vertical axis as well, so that the height was the most dominant dimension of the design.
Container Analysis - Line (Sharon, Participant)
This container, Sharon describes has having a downward direction, yet the mouth leads your eye upward. A contrast between upward movement and downward movement, so the challenge becomes making one more dominant, to make it feel decidedly upward or downward.
I'm left with the impression that there’s more of an upward directed energy because you have the opening at the top, it starts with a very solid base, even though it's got a void in the center, but it starts with those solid arms touching the ground.
And then you have this underpinning at the top, but perhaps it depends on the perspective that you are seeing it from.
Example design - Line (Sharon, Participant)
Sharon chose to work with those curved lines and to make a structure, then followed or embraced the curving line as well.
And instead of a half circle, like the container, made it a three quarter circle with extensions on the end, and to position on top of the mouth of the container, I can see that it would have been quite the technical challenge.
So the design has exceptionally decisive dimensions overall. So particularly between the width and the depth overall. It feels very shallow, particularly because it has a very strong or dense centre when you look at it from the side from the profile.
Container Analysis - Colour (Kat, Participant)
These matte satin black containers could have a fairly minimal impact if used with other neutral colours, but Kat has decided to go in the opposite direction and use a strong contrast against them.
Overall, the colour scheme can be identified as either monochromatic if you accept black as a colour, or you could simply say that they are neutral.
For me, you have to consider that the black is an important part of the design, if that is the only colour that you can identify in them. And even if you describe it as a neutral or a chromatic or an or chromatic, it still needs to be well considered in the final composition.
And the simplicity of the form along with the colour and texture gives it a more contemporary feeling.
Example Design - Colour (Kat, Participant)
A fantastic example of using less material variety and using very strong colour contrast: it's often difficult to use less materials. It has worked fairly well here overall.
I wouldn’t change much about this design because the rhythm is good overall and the use of colour helps move the eye around.
Potentially, one could build up the grouping of the daffodils because, even though they are grouped together, and form one solid mass, larger than the the Lotus pods, the overall definition of that grouping is not quite as strong as the form and the colour contrast of the Lotus pods because you also have to contend with the colour contrast of the black holes in the lotus pod with that very definite outline that they have as well.
Container Analysis - Colour (Mark)
This container stumped me to begin with, because it seemed like it had lots of potential with all these greens and brown, so I could take it in any direction that I wanted.
But when I started to add colours to it, I couldn't really find a relationship with the container's colours.
So rather than fight against it, I decided to work with it. And I started searching for materials that simply had more of the same colours - that plucked out the greens and the browns in the container and extended them up into the composition.
Example Design - Colour (Mark)
The dried lotus pods and the large Banksia pod in the top brought out all the different shades of brown. Looking at the dried or semi dried Baxteri Banksias, they had some of that muted green.
Just to contrast against that, and to add a sense of vitality, I added the bright green Hypericum berries and tucked them around other dried materials, then added two other fresh leaves in again as a strong contrast to all the mostly other dried muted colours.
The large Alocasia leaf on the top left hand side and the almost horizontal Strelitzia leaf that sits behind the Banksia and faces towards the upper right hand side.
So, essentially I simply expanded on the colour schemes in the container.
Comprehensive instructions, tips and explanations are given for every exercise:
Container Analysis - Texture (Marlene, Participant)
Texture surface on container is smooth, evenly distributed. Visual texture of horizontal lines is like sandpaper, with coloured overlaying lines looking smooth, so the contrast is mild.
Example Design - Texture (Marlene, Participant)
Marlene responded to the earthy, stonelike texture of this vase with heavy groupings of Banksias in the bottom and then taller groupings of bull rushes and flax, and a secondary grouping of bull rushes.
It was good to see the exploration and see the thinking about what was and wasn't working along the way. I think the final result shows some good decisions, particularly the decision to edit some material out, making the design simpler and stronger overall.
Predominantly, the materials, especially the longer materials, are worked in a radial fashion and they come to one radial point which is inside the container.
Contrasting with that are two parallel stems of Banksia, which is often their natural growth habit. That parallelism offers you a contrast and therefore attention to the radial system, creating tension that is being used to create an area of dominance or an area of interest where it's needed.
Container Analysis - Texture (Mark)
Looking at the texture of this container, I was aware that it is fairly smooth, but it feels more textured because of its form overall.
So it's not just the the actual physical texture but the visible form that makes it feel undulating.
So I first of all wanted to work with corrugated cardboard because I thought that the texture of the cardboard would align with the lines and texture that appear in the container. I didn’t have what I needed at hand so I settled on sandpaper, in a similar colour, but with distinctly different textures.
Example Design - Texture (Mark)
Uneven panels tiled in sandpaper repeat the overall shape of the vase while contrasting with its smooth surface.
A grouping of Asparagus Myeri around the base of a single King Protea builds visual weight and density to the right side while an upturned stick stretching from the highest point to the lowest repeats the downward lines of several lengths of rhipsalis as well as the parallel edges of the panels and of the container as well. The rhipsalis provided another smooth glossy texture which repeated the texture of the container, but in a different colour.
Shifting the King Protea a little more to the right would make its placement less central would work in better with the design's decidedly asymmetrical visual balance.
Plenty of examples are provided for insipration and guidance:
Container Analysis - Form (Kirsten, Participant)
- Symmetrical in all ways - around a central vertical axis.
- Upward tapering form, with dominant visual weight, stablised by a foot/base that taperes out as it moves down.
- Low contrast between height and width. Depth is shallower than other dimensions.
- Feels classical with a modernist/contemporary edge.
Example Design - Form (Kirsten, Participant)
The immediate repetition of the form of the container in the structure gives the composition an immediate relationship between the container and the design. The outline of the structure at the top mirrors the form of the container at the bottom, so there's an immediate visual connection between the two. There's a lot that is working here, particularly with that connection between the form of the container and the form of the panel at the top and also the delicate lines that swirl through the design and help lead the eye. It's consistently symmetrical, so clear decisions have been made about the visual outline of the design and also clear decisions about the dimensions. So there's a lot of consideration gone into the starting parameters of that design.
Container Analysis - Form (Mark)
Compound form of three cylinders of different sizes, two larger ones of equal height and unequal diameter joined by a short horizontal cylinder.
Container is assymetrical, having no central vertical axis.
The horizontal cylinder is placed closer to the top than to the bottom, allowing negative space between the verticals.
Not purely geometrical in form due to the hand formed textural characteristics of the components.
Example Design - Form (Mark)
I chose to repeat the form of the design of the form of this container but to make it larger and to stretch the proportions a little bit, and reversed them. So in the bottom, the large tube or the large pipe is on the left hand side and the small one on the right hand and I did the opposite in the top there. I worked around it with only a few materials making one really strong focal grouping towards the top of the base right at the point where the horizontal bar connects to the small vertical tube on the left hand side. So that I was using that natural tension point of the joint to help lead the eye to that area. I worked over the top of it with the large Chrysanthemum and the two disbuds, then also ran Philodendron Cataphyll through that area. So that they're all acting together to help lead the home to the design at that point. And then dispersed the other materials around the design. unevenly to help lead the way through.
Container Analysis - Space (Kath, Participant)
- Vase is solid mass (positive space)
- Gradual tapering from 1/3 down avoids heavy base
- Open space all around
Design Example - Space (Kath, Participant)
The botanical component of the design occupies a much greater space than the container, giving a really strong contrast between the height and the width. And here, the relationship between the form and the silhouette of the Callas relate to each other immediately... But again, I think it's the proportions could be worked on a little bit. So the proportion of the container to that of the botanicals, and maybe making one larger or one smaller might make it successful overall. There's a good connection here, between the vase and the botanical materials through the mechanics - they embrace the vase and include it as part of the whole design. So you get this visual connection, but also physical connection that joins the two sides together. So it reduces the impact of the bars a little bit whilst you can still clearly see the majority of its form.
Container Analysis - Space (Mark)
This vase feels like it is about positive space.
Example Design - Form (Mark)
This concrete vase, technically, was a challenge. I decided to contrast against form of positive space of the container, particularly because it looks like it's made of a heavy material, concrete...and to work with very transparent forms, those big tatami reels or discs that are made of very thin wire, creating an interplay between the negative spaces in the discs and the positive space of the vase... the relationship between the two of them being they're both kinds of round forms.
You can see I've worked hard at trying to create areas of density and areas of openness, I have an uneven distribution of material to make it more interesting for the eye to look through the design.
Design Learnings in the Real World
As the focus of One Container, Five Elements is on the Elements and Principles of design, the learnings can be readily applied to the many worlds of flowers – retail floristry, floral art, event design, flower arranging and floral styling.
One Container, Five Elements Timetable
Meeting #1 - Thursday 1 February 2024, 6:00pm
Subsequent Online Discussions
Meeting #2 - Thursday 22 February 2024, 6:00pm
Meeting #3 - Thursday 21 March 2024, 6:00pm
Meeting #4 - Thursday 11 April 2024, 6:00pm
Meeting #5 - Thursday 2 May 2024, 6:00pm
Meeting #6 - Thursday 23 May 2024, 6:00pm
Course dates for 2025 are yet to be announced.
All times listed are Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT - Sydney). You can compare your local time zone to Sydney time at flowerthinking.com/worldtime.
If you'd like us to update you on new course dates and other developments in One Container, Five Elements, you can register your interest here.
Mark Pampling has been designing, competing, teaching and judging for thirty years now and is as well known for his clear, linear design style as for his patient and inclusive way of sharing his knowledge.
- 2019 Beijing World Flower Art Contest – Champion
- 2015 Interflora World Cup, Berlin – Judge
- 2014 Fusion Flowers International Designer of the Year – 1st Place
- 9th China International Orchid Show (Sanya) – Best Creative Award
- 2014 International Flower Contest Japan – Best in Show, Gold Award and Design Innovation Award
- Asia Cup 2014 (Japan) – 1st Place – Surprise Table Display
- 2013 Fusion Flowers International Designer of the Year – 2 Silver Awards & 1 Bronze Award
- 2012 Fusion Flowers International Designer of the Year – 4th Place
- 2012 Interflora Australia Cup – Winner
- 2011 Interflora Australia Cup – Winner
- Australian Competitor 10th Interflora World Cup 2004 – 3rd Place
You can learn more about Mark here.
One Container Five Elements Online Course
One Container Five Elements Online Course
Select one container and create five compositions with it, each with a spotlight on one element of design and the various possible relationships between the chosen container and the elements. Tasks are followed by online discussions which can be joined live and/or watched again later. Tasks and discussions are spaced over an approximately five month period and encourage individual expression, creativity and resourcefulness.
The program timetable and detailed information on how to participate can be found in the Participation Guide.