Project 02: Gaia’s Ikebana

about the project

To create a food dish out of spheres, cylinders and cones, while applying principles of Ikebana floral arrangement.

final model: spring

Dish – The Dawn of Spring
Ingredients – grapefruit / pocky biscuit stick / strawberry / fresh baby’s breath / dried scalavendar / cotton candy

Spring is a romantic season that reminds me of couples who go out to have a picnic under the sakura trees together. So I set my mind to create a dessert that two lovers can share on a date.

I thought about recreating the transition between winter to spring, and portray this through the first sakura tree that blossoms after winter.

The baby’s breath entwining around the grapefruit represents the melting snow. The scalavendar stalk with the cotton candy represents the blooming sakura tree. The associated meanings behind baby’s breath and scalavendar are everlasting love, pureness and innocence.

The pocky stick and strawberry were added as an element to complement the sakura theme.

The elements are arranged in Moribana style where the grapefruit acts as the vase / vessel that holds the rest of the ingredients together.

Final sketch model

When composing this 3D sketch model, some things I took into consideration include:
  • Making sure the cone, sphere and cylinder are of contrasting lengths and volumes to define the Dominant, Sub-Dominant and Sub-Ordinate clearly.
  • Wedging the cone into the sphere and piercing the cylinder through the cone to join the pieces together.
  • Arranging the cone, sphere and cylinder in a way where their principle axis are diagonal to each other to create a tensional and dynamic structure that can be viewed from all angles.
  • The sphere (grapefruit) acts as the independent balance which is able to stand by itself and hold the other elements in place.
  • The cone (strawberry) has precarious balance from suspending off the edge of the grapefruit. It requires a toothpick poked through itself and the grapefruit to hold it in place. Without the toothpick, it is likely to topple off the grapefruit.
  • The cylinder (pocky stick) has dependent balance that counts on the mass of the strawberry to hold its weight. Applying the rule of thirds, two-thirds of its length is pierced through the strawberry. If it was heavier than the strawberry, it may topple off the grapefruit along with the strawberry holding it.
sketch model variation 01

sketch model variation 02 
brainstorm processes

research: spring season

The season reminded me of 방탄소년단’s music video, titled “Spring Day“, about new beginnings and entering a new phase of growing up. It is also about missing a friend or loved one, and only getting to see them when spring arrives.

In the music video, it is winter throughout all the frames, but cherry blossom petals are falling out of nowhere. As it progresses towards the end, the snow begins to melt and the flowers in the ground become more visible. The transition from winter to spring is what inspired me to create my dish.

The intro melody sounds like the wind, a gentle breeze that parachutes cherry blossoms slowly to the ground. The rhythm in the chorus sounds like cherry blossoms spinning slowly in mid air as they rain down like pink snow. I wanted to incorporate this mood into my work and did so by making a floral wreath of baby’s breath around the grapefruit. In doing so, I hope to create the illusion of the flowers spinning and suspending in mid air.

Sensory Elements
Sight cherry blossoms / grass / clear sky / picnics / family / couples
Smell flowers / crisp air
Touch petals / soft ground
Sounds quiet conversations / bicycle riding
Taste fresh fruits / light desserts
Colour Palette

Seasonal Food
research: ikebana
B a c k g r o u n d
  • Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, originating from the 7th century as a ritual for altar offerings.
  • The practice is influenced by Buddhism and the state of peace, relaxation and being patient.
P r i n c i p l e s   o f   d e s i g n
  • Conceptminimalism + bringing nature and humanity together
  • Arrangement – focuses on natural shapes, lines and form of the stems and leaves.
  • The meaning behind the arrangement is more important than the aesthetic aspect of it.
Jiyuka Style
  • Translates to “Freestyle”.
  • The arrangement does not need to consist of only flowers. Any material can be used.
  • This style allows for the most creative exploration and relates to our assignment well as we’ll be incorporating food in our Ikebana arrangement.
Rikka Style
  • Translates to “Standing flowers”.
  • Buddhist expression of landscape beauty in nature.
  • Made up of 9 branches representing different elements of nature e.g. earth, fire, water, wind, etc.
Nageirebana Style
  • Translates to “Thrown in flowers”.
  • Flowers are tightly bundled together in an asymmetrical arrangement, branching out in three directions that almost form a triangular shape.
Seika / Shoka Style
  • Translates to “Living flower”.
  • Consists of three main parts: Heaven, Earth, Human
Moribana Style
  • Translates to “Piled up flowers”.
  • The flowers are held up in a shallow vase, vessel, basket or kenzan.
behind the scenes: challenges + reflections

Composing the elements using diagonal axes was especially challenging as my food kept falling apart and it took many attempts to arrange them in a way that allows the different pieces to balance off each other.

I used a kitchen knife to slice off the top of the grapefruit and dug around it further to reveal its flesh. Using a satay stick, I made two slits along the grapefruit skin, one on each polar end. This is to insert a portion of the floral wreath later to secure it in place. The floral wreath kept collapsing on one side when I didn’t do this.

The floral wreath was made by twisting little small bunches of baby’s breath with metal twine. Some flowers were starting to die while weaving them together.

I noticed that flower shops usually keep fresh flowers in the refrigerator so I did the same, hoping to keep them alive for submission day. I kept sliced grapefruit in the fridge before and noticed they don’t oxidise quickly, so this one should still look fresh even after leaving it here overnight.

I used a satay stick to pierce a hole big enough for the pocky stick to go through. Originally, I thought of piercing the pocky biscuit vertically into the grapefruit but this would turn the biscuit soggy and the strawberry kept sliding down, even when it was tilted at a diagonal angle. As a solution, I pierced the strawberry into the grapefruit instead, so the pocky biscuit would be horizontal and not touching the grapefruit. I made sure the strawberry was as dry as possible so that the biscuit will not turn soggy.

I inserted the cotton candy from the bottom of the stalk, threading it up the vines. But after a few minutes, the cotton candy started melting and sliding down the stalk. The crystallising effect from the melting candy took away its cloud-like form so I wanted to prevent it from melting as much as possible.

To secure the cotton candy in place better, I bunched the stalks together instead of branching them out so that it will not slide down so easily.

But it still slid down quickly, so I switched to using only one stalk, and this seemed to prevent it from sliding down the best. I couldn’t find a way to stop the cotton candy from melting so I brought extra to class and changed a fresh blob of cotton candy just before my presentation.

This project taught me a lot and some key highlights would be:
  • Dynamic composition with diagonal axes can make our work look more visually engaging, exciting and visible from a 360 degree angle.
  • If the baby’s breath floral wreath could have a stalk that branched out far on one side, it would look more unified as compared to having the scalavendar stalk pierced separately in the grapefruit. It would also give more focus to the strawberry as the sub-ordinate.
  • Sometimes less is more and lesser variety of colours could have been used to make the work more minimalistic.

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