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Design and Critiques series

emc alumni emc community emc designer floral design floral education Nov 07, 2022

Design and Critique enfolds

With EMC Alumni bringing growth and gorgeous designs to the table

EMC already started and we're well into our 4th month of the “Design and Critique” program, designed especially for our Alumni. It is a program that you can read more about here and it is supported by the platform of EMC on Circle Community. A space of challenges, where you get live feedback during a zoom call and we get to share and discuss the design process behind the work, looking into options and alternative solutions just to stretch our minds to new possibilities. We welcome graduates, members of the educational team, mentors, everyone is welcome to participate and we offer the option to all our Alumni within the Circle Community. It is not only a great way to dive into creative floral design, it is also an amazing chance into achieving a deeper understanding of your signature style design work. 

Self portrait with flowers 

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” said Oscar Wilde. The path of knowing yourself, which as human beings accompanies us as a constant throughout our lives, is one of the efforts that we have sought with the most passion since the beginning of humanity. Being as intense as the need to understand the universe and the stars. Getting to feel the emotion of Neil Armstrong when we conquer certainties and personal territories that build our identity. 

The first of EMC Design and Critique sessions started with the exciting challenge of the self-portrait. It was a decision based on the conviction that once you have a knowledge about yourself as a designer, once you can connect your style to some elements of your vision over the design, for sure, will have more meaning. The self portrait is a deeply personal, yet very universal theme in art. And specifically, with regard to our world of floral art, where we long to express ourselves and communicate through the beauty of flowers, the challenge could not be more natural in seeking, in some way, to reflect in its creation as the designers they are. The idea was then, and from the absolute freedom in the choice of style, botanical materials, colours, etc. to be able to create a floral expression that could be conceived as a self-portrait. In short, being able to see each designer in their floral creations.

However, what at first glance could be very simple, in fact has the complexity of wanting to transfer so many elements (with all our lights and shadows) in a single composition. Our colours, our history, thinking, feeling… is that possible?

For this, it was necessary to start this exercise taking into account that floral design is a form of art, so it will always be a good idea to take inspiration from all forms of art, as we all speak the same language of Elements and Principles of Design. Then, the suggestion was that the process of "looking at ourselves in the mirror" be carried out, go to the system studied and learned with EMC. To be able to analyze the context, the already studied W's as well as the design elements and principles, breaking them down in detail, in order to find a way to transfer each of the characteristics that one would like to portray to certain materials (botanical and non-botanical) that make up the design.

Being the first of the challenges of this new space, the emotion and anxious wait was shared by all those who participated. And now, as each one uploaded their work to the digital space of our new community in Circle along with the respective analysis, it was possible, even among peers, to admire the success and attractiveness of the challenge. Numerous were the comments of -You are 100% you! - I can really see you in the design! that spontaneously arose as a new composition appeared.

Although it is true that in art there are always infinite possibilities to transmit emotions, when it comes to the world of floral art, these multiple alternatives are enhanced to their maximum expression given the fascinating characteristics, uniqueness and beauty of our means of expression, it is In other words, nothing more and nothing less than the flowers with which we have the privilege of working. And the challenge of being able to represent certain personal traits and characteristics through this botanical material was definitely the most intense of the opportunities.

This is how each design was a surprise and a world in itself. Lines of great dynamism such as Corylus avellana, sought in some cases to convey a connection with nature as well as a slightly crazy self asessed personality. Contrasting colours expressing passion and courage. Tropical flowers in relation to the rustic texture of the Triticum aestivum representing dualities of the personality and interests of the designer in question. And so each botanical choice, both in itself and in relation to the rest of the elements, told its own story, ultimately having a name and last name.

Each floral design presented has not only richness in terms of its artistic quality, (remember that those who can participate are only EMC graduates) but also rich in terms of the personal history that each one of them contains. They are aesthetically well achieved, but above all, they manage to convey, by emphasising one or another element, the imprint and the heart of their designer.

And this is precisely the story that Coral manages to communicate. Because the choice of each of its lines, the delicacy of the contrasts, the mastery in the transition of its colors and the clarity of seeing new possibilities in each element together with their respective interactions, were consciously made decisions, which together, count her personal story.

As EMC we are convinced that the only way to move forward is to grow and that only happens once you determine how you focus your energy on growth. We are creating an opportunity for the ones who participated to look in a mirror and know more about themselves as a designers. Our intention with this challenge was to drive them towards knowing themselves better, as a designer, noticing which areas they are strong in and which need more work.

Clearly once you have lived this experience there is no turning back! This exercise is transformed into an invitation for each designer. For all those who feel attracted for the first time to experience this revealing process, as well as those who have already lived it, to repeat it as many times as they wish, being amazed by new and different creative results, which will surely evolve, dynamic and surprising as the life itself.

Discovering your own style in terms of design, your own identity, is one of the greatest gratifications, we invite you to show and delight the whole world with the exclusivity of your own personality.


Inspiration from trends

The second challenge of the series was Inspired by trends and we had a great display of designs following surprisingly, and accidentally some choices of inspiration that were not the most obvious ones. The beauty of the program is that while having these conversations and feedback session we also get to know each other better through the works we do. By providing a small pos to discuss the designs, there is a great way we can connect with each other and manage to dive deeper into observations and analysis of aspects of the design process. 

The design from a trend was an inspiration for more than the floral aspect. We have seen improvement in the attention given to the quality of photography. Working with trends also inspired us to create this blog where Alex Mateiu gives insight into how to improve your pictures for presentation and social media without needing expensive gear. 

The challenge it itself is wrapped in a presentation that offers particular details regarding the assignment. There are specific aspects of the design process that we wish to focus on in order to bring out the best in you. Each feedback session follows a script allowing us to asses each submission and create a unique learning experience through dialogue and exchange of ideas. We use the EMC terminology from Foundation Class in order to better connect the missing dots that transform floral arrangements from beautiful to stunning and from amazing to magical. 

The theme proposal is given out to the designers following the W's - a KEY element we discuss thoroughly during Foundation. 

Inspired by trends challenge presentation


Be prepared for this question. It will be by far the most preferred question throughout our sessions of feedback. Work on your purpose, beyond the fact that you have to submit the work by a certain deadline, follow your inspiration chosen trend in order to clearly know your W's, starting with why?


This challenge is 100% focused on your ability to take inspiration form trends, to identify elements, patterns, common traits and possibilities for extending the limits and be creative. The 'client' in this case, for whom you are making the floral piece, is EMC, looking for posting your pictures in a special blog about the Design and Critique program. Keep in mind how this affects the creative decisions, including those on how you present your work. 


Pictures are to be used on the EMC blog.


You have to design a centrepiece for a table. It has to be a functional design, that could easily be placed on a dinner table at a small family gathering, in a nice place of your choice (you are encouraged to find a picture of a nice dinning place online and share the image with us).


Choice of materials and botanicals are completely up to you, as well as any executional techniques. However, we do want you to focus on achieving a Gestalt in your design, so be aware of that.

 Guiding the inspiration through sources and suggestions, by asking the right questions before the design process starts to actually enfold is a huge mind-shift in thew way we approach design. It is for that reason that assignments offer addition information when handed out at the launch of the monthly Design and Critique challenge. 

In the care of Trends, these were the guidelines.

"There are a lot of sources of inspiration and trends are certainly one of them. It is important as a floral designer to stay up to date with the trends and find your unique way of being trendy in your work. However, you can never break the rules, unless you know them. If you want to be ahead of trends, you have to get started in being up to date with trends. 

The EMC Trend report of EDGE FANZINE on Circle Community are your main source of inspiration. Read the trends, analyse the elements that are making the trend, and be aware of colour palette. Pick your choice of trend as you wish: either because it suits you style, or maybe because it takes you out of your comfort zone. Any reason is a good excuse to start creating a stunning centrepiece. Analysing the trend you chose as well as the location where the design goes is important. We encourage you to invest a bit of time into making your choices, not just looking quickly at some pictures.

Interpretation of the given theme, a trend in this case, can be done in many ways. If you look into the EDGE Fanzine you will find a section dedicated to different interpretations of trends with EMC designers like yourself. Learning from your pears is just as valuable as learning from teachers and mentors. Colour is a huge element in design and for sure the element with the most visual impact. No wonder a colour palette is such an important part of a trend presentation as well. We encourage you to study the colour palette and come up with an analysis of it. See what contrast are possible, whet colour are dominant and how can you work on expanding the colour range."

Following trends, the next challenge involved fashion and mood boards. Both sessions have been guided by Keith Stanley EMC, IMF as Coach and we are excited to feature the designs submitted in the next blog that will focus on the Design & Critique Series by EMC. 

by Francisca Perez & Diana Toma

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