Less is more – the use of empty space
It is common, in the flower industry, for customers to feel that bigger is better. That the number of flowers in the arrangement should be proportionate to the number of dollars spent. Would the average customer be willing to spend the same amount of money on less flowers and more design? Would they be willing to pay for empty space?
The famous 20th century architect and designer, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, made the aphorism “Less is more” very popular and demonstrated this design theory through his very minimalist approach. His emphasis was on simplicity of form and use of empty space.
If we look to Japan, and the art form called Ikebana, we can see similar design ideals applied to floral arrangements. Early records of Ikebana go back to the 6th century when Buddhism was introduced to the Japanese. The flowers were presented as an offering in honor of Buddha. From that point onward the Japanese introduced containers and furthered the art until Masters of the form arose and Ikebana schools were opened. Over time the styles evolved and when Japan opened to the rest of the world the art form spread and grew.
“What distinguishes IKEBANA from other approaches such as “flower arrangement” is its asymmetrical form and the use of empty space as an essential feature of the composition. A sense of harmony among the materials, the container, and the setting is also crucial.” (Ikebana International, n.d.http://www.ikebanahq.org/whatis.html)
If you look below at our Creative Corner section, you can see that we have featured a design by Tamara Harrison that exemplifies the ideals of Ikebana. A customer could expect to pay around $65 for the arrangement. It comes in a ceramic container but there isn’t very much by way of flowers in it. People from a design background know that more doesn’t necessarily mean better and sometimes less (good minimalist design) costs more. Unfortunately, the average customer doesn’t come from a design background.
That being the case, is it merely a matter of educating your customers about the myriad of possibilities available when they place an order? In Tamara Harrison’s experience most customers don’t know what is available to them. They have only seen the basic radial design and think that their choices are limited to the type and number of flowers in the arrangement. She says it is necessary to expose your customers to more designs and that maintaining a varied selection of alternative designs on display at all times will educate customers on the possibilities. Often customers will walk into the shop a week later and ask for the interesting design that they saw on display.