Gaia’s Ikebana: Research, Process, Final

Hello! ūüôā


Theme Assigned: SUMMER


In this post, I will list out and explain my process; the research & attempts, with¬†regards to this project. All the things I will be covering eventually helped and led to my final food model for the Gaia’s Ikebana project.




I will cover the following content in the order as listed below:


[ Research ]





[ Experimentation ]



[ Final ]






{ Research …



The Beginnings of Ikebana Flower Arranging


Throughout this project, I’ve learned that the art of Japanese Ikebana flower arrangement was actually derived from the Buddhism expression of nature and at the same representing its beauty through this process.

This began around the 15th century where the expression first began through the use of seven branches within the arrangement’s composition. These branches would’ve represented nature’s hills, waterfalls, and even valleys in a sense.

The first style is known as the Rikka style which was founded by a Buddhist priest known by the name of Ikenobo Senkei. The style is emphasized by the use of standing flowers.

Later on, during the late 17th century, Ikebana compositions comprised of three branches. This demonstrated its arrangements in a more formalized manner or style which was improved upon by the growing merchant class known as Seika / Shoka.

Shoka comprises of three main branches; ten (heaven), chi (earth), jin¬†(man), and it is greatly representational of the plant’s individual beauty. The older version of Ikebana is known as Nageire which would have been used in tea ceremonies.

Soon enough, modern schools for the art of Ikebana flower arranging opened up. In the late 19th century, the Moribana style was introduced due to the western cultural influences in Japan which meant that it relied upon western plants within its arrangements. The Moribana style was still considered formal and can also be defined by the piling of flowers in a rather flat and shallow container/vase.

In the 20th century, a more free-styled arrangement came along known as the Jikuya style. Even throughout all these changes, Ikebana was really meant for the upper classes.


Later Stages of Ikebana Flower Arranging



Eventually, this artistic arrangement of flowers that originated from Japan became popular everywhere and attracted people of many social classes. Soon, the introduction of new materials, such as plastic, plaster, and steel, became evident within the compositions of Ikebana arrangements known as Zeneibana (avant-garde).


The art of flower arranging is practiced by 15 million people in Japan, the population consisting mostly of young women. There are around 3000 Ikebana schools in Japan and thousands more elsewhere worldwide. Today, Ikebana can be roughly defined through two styles – Moribana shallow vase & Nageire tall vase.


To learn more, click here.




Since the theme assigned to me was summer, I decided to look up Ikebana flower arrangements that best associated with the season and had a sense of counterbalance towards the overall compositions they took.


Ikebana Arrangement Research – 1.



Influence to own final model: This flower arrangement greatly inspired me through the use of circular voids formed by curling or curving branches. They create and add motion to the still and rigidness of the pink flowers, filling up the empty and boring space that surrounds. Alongside that, the movement in which the branches actually take leans towards the left while the pink flowers appear to be sprouting towards an opposite direction. In a sense, both are counterbalancing one another, creating a gradual flow and balance to the entire arrangement even though both are not moving towards the same direction. The pale-like color of the branches actually helps balance out the bright striking color of the flowers as well.


Ikebana Arrangement Research – 2.



Influence to own final model:¬†With this composition, I was particularly inspired by the low-rise arrangement of flowers on the left side, which counterbalanced the slightly rising movement of twig branches flowing towards to the right side. It is with this reference that I became inspired to create my own final food model in a low raised setting while the branches actually helped emphasize and counterbalance the opposite direction in which the food model was facing. Taking the bottom image as a reference of my own model, you can see that the food portion of my final model appears to be smaller and much lower than the composition in which my branches take. The direction of the food portion is emphasized by the green bamboo shoot pointing towards the right which is further placed in focus by the curvature nature of the branch dangling above. To counterbalance the model’s food portion which is heading right, a branch reaches in the opposite direction, clearly towards the left-hand side. This branch differs in a sense in that it is reaching left at a lower angle, around the approximate height of the food model itself creating an actual balance of both sides with similar heights. Again, the branch curved in a smooth-like manner actually breaks that similarity and creates motion towards the entire composition. This curved branch appears to be stepping out of its comfort zone, reaching out in its restricted sense which was what I wanted the summer theme defined as. My definition of summer would be taking on adventures, stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new; the curving branch actually leans outwards and upwards, breaking the similarity of the counterbalancing similarly leveled composition taken below it (food model and left-hand branch).





Ikebana Arrangement Research – 3.



Influence to own final model:¬†In this arrangement, I first noticed that everything is camouflaged in green as opposed to the striking bright orange colored flowers. These flowers actually appear to create more life towards the overall arrangements. This approach is what I have taken similarly into my own final food model. As you can see in the above reference image of my own food model, everything appears to follow this consistent earth tone scheme of brown, beige and greens. I wanted to break that barrier of this repetitive scheme by adding a flower which wasn’t too striking so that the balance would not have been disrupted. It would also add a sense of life within my entire composition. The flower I have chosen specifically has hints of pink but the majority of it is covered in yellow to match the beige-like color of the udon noodle sphere.

In the above image, the flowers appear to be sprouting in the same direction of the entire arrangement. Similarly, this observation was taken into consideration within my own food model. Since the majority of my composition takes place at a lower angle setting, my flower has been specifically placed around this same area.





To start off my research on Japanese food associated with the summer season, I decided to dive straight into finding out what the most popular dishes consumed by the Japanese population was.

Under a Japan travel and culture guide known as, Kyuhoshi,¬†I found a list of common dishes ranging from Yakitori, Somen and even to dessert dishes such as Kakigori. What I discovered could be found in common within the list provided by Kyuhoshi was that many noodle dishes, such as Somen and Morioka Reimen, comprised the population’s dietary consumption during the summer.


Somen Noodles. Image from
Morioka Reimen Noodles. Image from


With this in mind, I decided to research on a particular noodle dish commonly associated with Japanese tradition; Udon Noodle Soup Dish.

To my delight, I found that the Udon noodle soup dish was commonly consumed during the summer as well. I will talk more about my choice behind imitating the dish within my food model arrangement within the [ final ] section of this post.






{ Experimentation …




Model Used for Final Food Composition


Unused Model



To improve upon my second sketch model, I could have made the subdominant way smaller and thinner in size & diameter


I could have made the dominant bigger but that would’ve made this particular sketch model way too similar to the one I have referenced with for my final food model.




{ Final …




As I mentioned before, my final food composition model is based off the common¬†Udon Noodle Soup Dish.¬†Since there are a variety of ingredients used from one udon noodle soup dish to another, I decided to focus on the ingredients or toppings that are typically in almost every type of udon noodle dish; seaweed & bamboo shoots. I wanted to show the udon dish in its most simplistic setting without any other more complicated ingredients that may slightly change its taste, making every udon dish different from the other. The flower is representative of that ‘difference’, evident by its striking color in comparison to the pale or neutral palette of colors.

The Subdominant has been split into two and attached at either sides of the Udon ball in a parallel manner to give the perception of being pierced through the Dominant. The Subordinate (cone) made out of thin seaweed is pointed outwards to further emphasize a change in direction or motion.


Listed below are the components of my final food composition:

Sphere (Dominant) – Ball of udon noodles

Cylinder (Subdominant) – Raw stalk of bamboo shoot

Cone (Subordinate) – Wrapped seaweed cone

Something else (Subdominant) – Flower


FINAL FOOD MODEL – Before Cheryl’s Advice








Side 1


Side 2


FINAL FOOD MODEL – After Cheryl’s Advice

Keeping it simplistic & minimalistic; Without the flower becoming a distraction.


* Removal of Flower


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