[Final] Project 2: Gaia’s Ikebana

Gaia’s Ikebana

After a couple of weeks of conceptualising, going grocery shopping for ingredients, and scouting for branches and leaves around the campus, it was finally time to present our models.

Final Model

Experimenting with dynamic compositions through the mediums of food and Ikebana, my final model was meant to portray the season of Summer.

Final (front view)
Final (top view)
Final (closeup)
I. Concept

I wanted the model to show a dish being formed in a more abstract manner. This was attempted through dissecting the food items; the ice-cream cone was turned on its head with the bottom (or apex) facing upwards and yoghurt placed outside instead of within. The sphere (macadamia nut) was also placed alongside the ice-cream cone with a drizzle of yoghurt to represent it flowing downwards into the granola mixture and joining the rest of the ingredients.

When I came across the word “Summer”, pictures of Summer-based recreational activities immediately flash through my mind. These activities are usually held outdoors under the hot sun; they include, but are not limited to, state fairs or fun fairs, beaches, and picnics.

After conducting some research and assembling mood boards and reference images, I felt quite drawn portraying a typical Summer picnic. I wanted to experiment with the idea of packaged and compact high-end ingredients (usually easy to transport), and platters that are usually brought to picnics. The addition of props and greenery to the foods could also help in establishing a varied and interesting colour palette of both earthy tones with splashes of vibrant colours, conveying a mood of calmness in a time of celebration and being carefree.


II. Principles of Design
Sketch analysis of final model

Some of the design principles applied in the model include:

Design Principle Evident In
Dynamic Composition Angles at which volumes are balanced against
Rule of Thirds Sizes of volumes
Hierarchy Sizes, colours, and materials of volumes and props
Harmony Composition of model and visuals of volumes
Contrast Materials, textures, and colours of volumes and props
II.I. Dynamic Composition

The volumes (cone, sphere, and cylinder) used in the model are structured to reflect different kinds of balances. The cylinder, in relation to the base, uses Independent Balance, where the angle of balance is less than 45°. It is independently related to the vertical and horizontal axis in such a way that it is able to balance itself regardless of whether it is physically supported by other structures.

The cone, in relation to the cylinder, uses Dependent Balance, where its axis is propped up against the axis of the cylinder, depending on it for physical visual structure and balance.

The sphere, on the other hand, uses Precarious Balance, where its angle of balance is more than 45°, seeming as though it is holding its own balance and can fall apart once its support is removed.

II.II. Rule of Thirds

Rule of thirds is applied in the sizes of the volumes where the height of the cylinder is approximately 1/3 of the cone, the diameter of the sphere approximately 1/3 of the diameter of the cylinder, and the sphere placed 1/3 alongside the axis of the cone.

II.III. Hierarchy

Hierarchy is applied in the volumes and props used in the model.

Dominant Cone, Branches Cone: Emphasised through size and colour (brown as a base colour due to its subtleness)

Branches: Emphasised through their sizes and physical structure

Subdominant Cylinder Emphasised through its size and transparency; transparency to take its attention away from the Dominant cone in case both volumes are too similar in size
Subordinate Sphere, Flowers, Yoghurt Sphere: Emphasised through its size

Flowers: Emphasised through its vibrant splash of colour against a palette of earthy tones

Yoghurt: Emphasised through its physical structure and colour as a “finishing touch”

II.IV. Harmony

Harmony is displayed through the model’s composition where the volumes and props are placed within close proximity; the branches and flowers are grouped together while the food items form another group. Harmony is also shown in repetition of certain elements; the same yoghurt used in the cylinder is drizzled on the cone, and the granola used in the cylinder is also scattered around the base. The idea of unity is also reinforced through the colour palette where earthly, more muted tones are used (displayed in the base, the shades of green and brown in the branches, and the colours of the cone and sphere), complemented with a splash of colour (in the cylinder and flowers).

II.V. Contrast

Contrast is reinforced through the use of a variety of shapes, materials, textures, and colours displayed in the volumes and props.

Cone Made up of grainy, geometric patterns with brown colour (earthy tone), which contrasts against the cylinder.
Cylinder Layering within the cylinder helps create an earthy colour palette (granola and yoghurt) with splashes of bright colours (mango, honey, blueberries), and contrasts against the cone.
Sphere The deep brown colour of the sphere contrasts against the brown tone of the cone and is also contrasted against the white yoghurt drizzle.
Branches The physical structure of the branch, as well as its size, contrasts against the rigid nature of the shapes.
Accents The accents (flowers, scattering of granola, fruits, yoghurt) are vibrantly-coloured, serving as a contrast against the muted colours of the other elements, and is also meant to capture the vibrancy of Summer in a more subtle context.

The contrasts between different elements help to clearly identify the Dominant, Subdominant, and Subordinate elements as well.

III. Research Applied
III.I. Food & Taste

The research on food and taste came in handy when sculpting my model; deconstructing flavour profiles, and techniques in layering and plating. Some of the methods I applied includes:

Flavour profiles Expanding more on the idea of low, mid, and high notes in flavour profiles, I wanted to enhance the Dominant, Subdominant, and Subordinate aspects of the volumes.

The cone (Dominant) being a plain ice-cream cone establishes the base flavour. The cylinder (Subdominant) comprising of granola giving it a subtle flavour. The sphere (Subordinate) along with the fruits being a representation of bursts of flavour.

Liquids Use of honey as a liquid to create difference in texture.
Dairy The yoghurt helped to add a layer of white space within the cylinder.
Choosing plate colours Choosing a transparent cylinder to help bring out the vibrancy of the ingredients within.
Variety Difference in textures and colours of the ingredients used helped to establish a sense of contrast. The blues and yellows used within the granola complemented one another as well as contrasted against the earthy tones of other elements on display.
Garnishes Garnishes through the scattering of oats were used sparingly.
III.II. Ikebana
Branches, leaves and flowers used in Ikebana

My model was meant to embody some of the aspects of the Moribana style of Ikebana. Inspired by the Water-Reflecting Style, I placed a layer of honey at the top of the layered granola, with the cylinder serving as a container, and bent the branches towards the cylinder, in the hopes of it being reflected on the reflective surface of the honey.

I also wanted to experiment with the technique of Landscape Moribana, where it represents the beauty of natural scenery. In addition to using real plants and branches, I tried to mimic the ‘Near View’ used in Landscape Moribana, where scenes are portrayed as if it is happening before one’s eyes; zooming into the leaves and flowers used.

The principles of Ikebana are also represented; asymmetry in the branches being on one side of the model, materiality in the use of branches, leaves, and clusters of flowers, and harmony through the colour palette used (deep tones of brown and green accompanied with a splash of bright pink).

IV. Feedback and Improvements
Closeup of subordinate
IV.I. Changes to Subordinate

I would change the Subordinate (macadamia nut) to a blueberry instead. Using a blueberry would give a better consistency to the concept of ingredients rolling down the cone forming the granola dish, as well as establish better harmony in repeated elements. It would also serve as a better contrast to the colour of the cone, making it have a better sense of a “finishing touch”.

IV.II. Cutting Back on Clutter
Previous attempt at making cone seem more dominant

I would also cut back on the amount of materials used in the Ikebana aspect. Keeping in mind the minimalistic nature of Ikebana, I would remove the flowers and some of the leaves, keeping behind the physical structure of the branch with a few leaves.


I. Drafts 1
Drafts 1
Left: Model 1
Right: Model 2
Sketch analysis for drafts 1
Top: Model 1
Bottom: Model 2
Positive Aspects Changes to Make
Model 1  Dynamic composition used

Volumes can be seen at different angles

Change cone to Dominant

Change location of sphere

Change sizes of volumes to clearly establish Dominant, Subdominant, Subordinate

Model 2  Dynamic composition used

Volumes can be seen at different angles

Change cone to Subdominant

Change cylinder to Dominant

II. Drafts 2
Drafts 2
Left: Model 1
Right: Model 2
Sketch analysis for Drafts 2
Top: Model 1
Bottom: Model 2
Positive Aspects Changes to Make
Model 1 Dynamic composition used

More obvious display of Dominant, Subdominant, Subordinate

Apply rule of thirds to size and placement of volumes
Model 2 Dynamic composition used

More obvious display of Dominant, Subdominant, Subordinate


Link to research:

[Research] Project 2: Gaia’s Ikebana

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