6 Popular Floral Styles For The Traditional Home

by Roxanne's Dried Flowers

Choosing flowers to enrich the home can be daunting and seemingly endless in possibility. Dried flowers have a long history spanning various cultures and eras, perhaps even as prolific as flower arranging itself. The choice of adding long lasting blooms can intensify the decision; however, finding inspiration and enrichment in different styles of floral design throughout history can help guide you in choosing the arrangement that compliments both the aesthetics of your home and the betterment of the soul. Understanding the dynamics and origins of the popular styles we see today generates meaning and intrigue in the world around us and the spaces we create. Here we offer brief histories and examples of 6 different euro-centric floral design styles all suitable for the traditional home, whether it be Victorian, cottage or even rustic.

Baroque Era Design

The French Baroque era of design is characterized by its dramatic, bold, flashy and over-the-top aesthetic. This period began during Louis XIV's reign from 1661-1715. It was expressive of the noble’s wealth and power. The Baroque era was defined by lavish ornamentation including fruit, scrolls, candles and figurines, bold jewel-toned colors and an oval, dense shape. Usually in a gilded bronze container, the arrangements were celebrated for their refinement and grandiose. They had no center of interest or hierarchy, but rather featured the overall impressiveness and quality of the arrangement. Later in the 18th century the style transformed into a brighter, lighter and less rigid design known as the Rococo. Featuring pastels rather than jewel-tones, this era of design was less restrictive and allowed for more freedom in design and asymmetry. During this time the famous “s” curve that is commonly used today was coined by William Hearth as the “Line of Beauty.” It is also referred to as the “Hearth Curve.”

 

English Garden Design

Medieval style gardens became increasingly rigid in their designs with carefully planned patterns and designs. They were mostly structured and sculpted hedges of a limited variety of hardy, low growing plants that were easily manipulated. Symmetry, geometry and man’s touch were at the forefront of the design, rather than nature itself. The English garden style arose around the 18th century as a blatant revolt from the rigidity of gardens at the time. It embraced nature and its wildness, relinquished formality from the garden and strived to have little to no evidence of man’s involvement. They are the quintessential “cottage garden” featuring unruly grasses, climbing vines and disorderly beds filled to the brim. In floral design, the arrangement gives a small taste of the garden one could envision the blooms were plucked from. They have a lot of vertical movement symbolizing the branches that reach out higher than the rest as well as the vines that hang from the stone wall but contrasted by the short buds peeking up from beneath the garden floor. The “s'' line design style that arose during the Rococo period became a great tool to materialize this imagery. Seasonality is a key feature and garden flowers are the primary material as well as ample foliage. The English garden style of arranging gave way for foliage to become a key component of design, often used concurrently in importance as the flowers. English garden style is hugely popular today and is the most common styling of most weddings. This style teaches us a lot about what is considered to be formal or traditional and opens the door for a huge array of styles and techniques.

Pavé Style

In French, the word pavé translates to paved, often being used as a signifier of a cobblestone road. The tight grouping of elements on a flat plane inspired other forms of art such as jewelry. Pavé styled jewelry features many diamonds or gems closely grouped together set in metal creating a flat, seamless surface of jewels covering the whole piece. This style of jewelry is difficult to trace the origins with examples from ancient times to present day. The technique of pavé found its way to floral design and grew in popularity around the 18th and 19th centuries, however it wasn’t until recent years that the design really took off as a style of flower arranging. It has now been one of the most common design styles in Europe and the US for the past 20-40 years. It’s a sophisticated, clean look often using traditional flowers of only 1-3 varieties. The flowers should have a flat or rounded head that’s compatible with creating a flat cohesive surface. Roses are the most common choice for this style because of their size, uniformity and flattened face. They are tightly arranged in a domed or block shape usually spiraling out from the center. Foliage is often absent from these designs or is solely placed between the flowers and the perimeter of the vase alluding to leaves along the base of a flower's stem and/or adding extra protection to the heads of the flowers.

Biedermeier Style

Arising in a transitional and impoverished period, the Bidermeier style came to fruition primarily in the middle class of Germany and Austria between 1815-1848. There was much distress and divide throughout the continent that created great insecurity especially among lower and middle classes. This style was created in the spirit of manifesting reassurance, structure and control. Restraint and conservatism were of practical importance but also inspired an aesthetic of simplistic, functional craftsmanship that cherished beauty in its modesty. In floral design, the principles of Biedermeier actualize through rigid control over placement of flowers as well as constraints in variety. The flower arrangement has a very specific design that involves creating levels, each containing only one type of material. It usually forms into a cone shape where each layer is composed in a compact, flat mass encircling the level before it at a lowered height, creating a stepped appearance. The materials can range in color and texture but must compliment and contrast the materials in the level before it. Flowers, foliage, berries or nuts can all be used but their shape must be compatible in creating a flat surface. This design is cherished for its minimal yet deliberate nature and prizes craftsmanship and material over ornamentation.

Dutch Masters Painting Design

Not only did the Dutch master painters of the 1600s and 1700s hugely influence the world of painting, but also the world of botanical study and floral design. Dutch master style is hugely popular in the current day and will likely remain a constant influence in the world of flowers for days to come. It began in a time of widespread advances in science and a peaking interest in botany. The merchant class grew in power with the expanding trade industry and accessibility to new lands creating an interest for exotic and newly discovered specimens. Art was typically driven by the Church and nobles, but with the emerging economic growth within the merchant class a new type of imagery arose diverging from the typically religious iconography. Interest in sharing and appreciating the bounty of discovery and beauty in the natural world took over. Exotic flora became a symbol of status and wealth. Lavish botanical paintings emerged dramatically displaying a vast array of flowers from all over the world with no typical seasonality. They generally depicted an oval shaped arrangement featuring unique angles of the flowers and hierarchy of the most significant or interesting blooms towards the top or forefront. Imperfections such as bitten-at-leaves, browning and insects about the flowers were often showcased to exemplify nature’s imperfections. The arrangements were very stylized with dark backgrounds and brightly colored flowers. Nature’s vast range was showcased through the variety of seasonal and regional flowers. Tropical flora, fruits, garden flowers could all be in a single painting, but they always included bulbs. Blue was also typically included, it could be presumed that the inclusion of blue and bulbs was a way of paying homage to the Dutch.

The Dutch master flower arrangement paintings are hugely influential to contemporary floral design and references can be seen in almost every florists’ work. And now with the extreme ease of ordering flowers from around the world online, we often implement the same strategies the Dutch trade industry conjured. Florists are constantly creating awe-inspiring collections of flowers of vast and unique origin without even thinking about it but nonetheless representing nature’s immeasurable wealth of beauty.

French Country Design

Like many interior design styles throughout Europe of the time, the French country design style was largely influenced by Louis XV who ruled France from 1710-1774. Louis XV and his court spent ample time in the countryside and enjoyed many of the simpler, casual leisures of life. The style began in the province and is sometimes also called “French provincial style,” provincial referring to anywhere outside of Paris, as in the countryside, which was becoming more and more of interest. Furniture makers of the time were also traveling in and out of Paris informing each other’s work. The Parisian furniture style was highly decorative and lavish whereas those living in more rural areas did not have the tools or materials to mimic and therefore created simpler, more utilitarian pieces. Such pieces gained demand with the city's interest in country life.

The key ingredient to French country is the mix of rustic simplicity and delicate elegance. The beauty and rawness of a vine growing up a trellis, with the lushness and wealth of the sophisticated. It differs from farmhouse style in that it is not based purely on utility and quaintness, but rather pairs it with a keen eye for detail and adornment. It encourages the whimsy of nature but articulates it in a way that still portrays sophistication and thoughtfulness. French country style in floral arrangement is not nearly as contained as the pavé style, but not as free as the English garden style. It's normally a roughly rounded, compact shape with moments of unpredictability and freedom from constraint. Muted, natural colors including soft pastels and white are normally a signature of this style. French country style is the perfect bridge between the formal and rustic. It's airy, fresh and inspires awe while referencing the casual, natural beauty of the country.

 

 

Citations:

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "English garden". Encyclopedia Britannica, 14 Aug. 2019, https://www.britannica.com/art/English-garden. Accessed 17 April 2023.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Biedermeier style". Encyclopedia Britannica, 8 Nov. 2012, https://www.britannica.com/art/Biedermeier-style. Accessed 17 April 2023.

Virginia Garden Club. Traditional Floral Styles and Designs Reduced - Gcvirginia.org. 2018, https://www.gcvirginia.org/warehouse/fm/documents/FlowerShowResources/Traditional%20Floral%20Styles%20and%20Designs%20reduced.pdf. “Biedermeier Vienna - History.” Www.biedermeier-Vienna.com, www.biedermeier-vienna.com/biedermeier.php?section=history. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

McLaughlin, Katherine. “French Country Decor: Everything You Need to Know about This Rustic and Refined Style.” Architectural Digest, 23 Feb. 2023, www.architecturaldigest.com/story/french-country-decor-101. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023.

“How to Identify French Provincial Furniture | Laurel Crown Furniture.” Www.laurelcrown.com, www.laurelcrown.com/how-to-identify-french-provincial-furniture#:~:text=French%20Provincial%2C%20sometimes%20used%20interchangeably. Accessed 17 Apr. 2023. ‌