FLOWERS + FOOTED BOWLS
Our new Essential Footed Bowls are jacks of all trades. Available in 7 different colors to match any aesthetic, you can turn them into a snackable centerpiece by filling with fruit or candy, use them as a catchall for various household (or decorative) items, and — our personal favorite feature — set them as the foundation for a game changing flower arrangement.
When it comes to footed bowls (or pedestal bowls, as some like to call them), the height is everything. With this elevated vessel, your decor is placed centerstage, so you might as well give your guests a good show. Which is the perfect segue for us to introduce our flower arrangement inspiration: Ikebana.
Ikebana, a traditional Japanese artform that translates to “arranging flowers” or “making flowers alive”, dates back to around the 700s. As one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement, Ikebana communicates tranquility and peace through plants, while connecting us to the natural world in balanced harmony.
Embodying all the traits of Wabi Sabi — imperfection, asymmetry, and appreciation — there are clear differences between a Western flower arrangement and Ikebana. Where Western flower arrangements are typically symmetrical and tightly packed, Ikebana is typically asymmetrical and leaves room for each plant to wander. Western flower arrangements put the sole focus on the flowers (while ignoring the equally important stems and leaves), but Ikebana puts much more emphasis on experimental design and creating a conversation between the plants, from stem to bud.
We love Ikebana for its perfectly-imperfect embrace of life, as well as the careful consideration of color, line, and form within each arrangement. A form of living sculpture, Ikebana is a delicate dance between surroundings, medium, and season, as trees, plants, and flowers are traditionally embedded with symbolism in Japanese culture. And you don’t need to limit yourself to plants, the materials included in Ikebana arrangements are just as varied as each arrangement itself. The result is art in its most lively form — literally.
Today, the word kado, meaning “way of flowers” is the preferred term for Ikebana, as a more accurate encapsulation of the spirit of this art as a lifelong learning process. Because impermanence is a quintessential factor of this art form — through its embrace of nature’s seasons and the individual space surrounding each creation — the shift toward describing it as a years-long exploration and experimentation, instead of a process you learn only once, is definitely more fitting.
FROM PAST TO FUTURE
There are currently 4 different Ikebana styles: Rikka, Seika, Moribana, and Contemporary Ikebana.
Rikka was meant to symbolize the beauty of paradise. The goal of this method was to embody an elevated idea of the cosmos themselves, with 9 structural rules or “positions” developed by Buddhist monks that guide the general composition.
Seika style is a freer method of arranging that translates to “fresh-living flowers.” Seika style uses 3 positions of shin, soe, and uke to create an uneven triangle. In this style there’s an “active empty space” where the arrangement is placed, as well as within the arrangement itself, both of which are vital to the integrity of Seika style.
Moribana embraces the relatively new belief that Ikebana should be viewed from all sides, leading to a “piling up” (the translation of Moribana) of materials to create a three dimensional sculptural quality.
4. Contemporary Ikebana
Contemporary Ikebana, the final style, is the most freeform of them all. Tying together the traditions of the previous styles, this is our current understanding of Ikebana as a whole: a living sculpture that utilizes a variety of materials in unique and individualistic designs.
MAKING YOUR ARRANGEMENTS
Although anyone can practice Ikebana or kado (and we highly encourage all to try their hand at it)‚ there are some initial considerations for getting started.
While a seasoned Ikebana expert is a craftsperson at cutting branches at precise angles and preserving various live materials, beginners can start with tapping into the qualities of each potential Ikebana feature. In the initial stages of gathering materials, it might help to ask yourself these questions: What are the inner qualities of this plant? How might this item change over time? Which materials thrive during this season? How can I embrace temporality?
One beginner method — used in Nageire and Moribana styles — is using two tall branches with a small bundle of flowers, following the three-stem system of shin, soe, and hikae — traditionally representative of heaven, man, and Earth. In the Ikebana world, these features refer to the main stems being used as supportive features in your arrangement, giving structure to the composition.
Okay, so you’re ready to start arranging… It’s time to dive in.
To create a basic arrangement, add water to a shallow container (we recommend our Essential Footed Bowls), then place a flower frog within it. Select two branches and a flower, making sure to measure each stem and cut them to your desired length (one at a time is preferred). Generally speaking, it’s recommended that each stem is cut at different angles for a dimensional composition, but this section is up to your creative discretion. Finally, add supplemental materials to fill out the arrangement, and you’re officially an ikabanaist.
IKEBANA IN YOUR HOME
Although Ikebana has been described as a living sculpture (including here, by us, multiple times), don’t be intimidated or feel like you’re starting a late-in-life MFA program.
We’ve put together a little color guide for using our Essential Footed Bowls while you experiment. We love Ikebana for its creative freedom and the ability to express your own personal style and the aesthetic of your home through plants, so take liberties with our list.
- Brass + Mustard for golden hour and summer months
- Ivory for calming and contrast
- Terracotta + Olive for fall and warming up
- Peacock + Black for darker colors and bold designs
Just like embarking on any new hobby, you’ll find your preferred method of arrangement over time and through trial and error. Our one word of advice: don’t take things too seriously. Select your vessel and materials by your seasonal mood, instinctually, or from items you love to have in your home. Make sure to enjoy the journey of both arranging (and inevitably re-arranging).
You and your arrangement will grow together, inspire each other, and give new life to your home. (P.S. Don’t forget to document your floral experimentations. And if you do, be sure to tag us in your pictures.)