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Competition Floristry: What the judges are looking for

Training to become a qualified Judge was the next step for me after I retired from being a competitor. I felt that I could give so much knowledge to future competitors and encourage the next generation of florists to get the ‘bug’ of competing.

The role of a Floristry Judge

A Judge has a very important job to do. They are the person who make decisions based on a wealth of knowledge and experience and are required to make clear, rational, tough, and objective decisions. They have integrity, discernment and must be impartial.

Before the competition day, the Judge will receive the schedule and will read and re read every word – just as a competitor should. We look at different definitions of key words within the schedule. If a word has more than one meaning, the Judge must be aware of this, as each competitor may take a different meaning of the word to create their design.

Upon entering a competition room, a Judge has to have certain skills to enable the right decisions to be made.

So, what are these skills?

  • To have an open mind.

  • To be aware of the competition room…. lighting and temperature can both affect the designs in different ways.

  • To walk the room – looking at all the competition designs and note how they are staged/displayed.

  • To never pre-judge the design.

  • To only handle the design very carefully, when technique (workmanship) is being judged.

  • To have the ability to read the ‘story’ that a competitor is attempting to communicate in their design and to understand the designs effectiveness, intent and value.

  • To be focused on each individual design, be objective and put aside personal likes and dislikes.

  • To mark each facet individually, ensuring technique(workmanship) is the last facet to judge as this is where the judge is required to handle (and sometimes wear), the design.

  • To speak with confidence and to educate.

  • To mark consistently.

What does a Judge look for?

All pieces of art have five elements of design in them: Design is the foundation of all judging.

  1. Choice of Material

  2. Visual Balance

  3. Form

  4. Proportion / Scale

  5. Focal Area(s)

First things first…..

  • Has the competitor interpreted the schedule well?

  • Has the competitor abided by the ‘rules’ within the schedule and terms and conditions?

  • Does the design look finished?


  • Idea: this is where the judge is looking for originality, uniqueness, interpretation and creativity.

  • Colour: Is so important, it’s what can draw the eye through the design, or not. Can the colour scheme be improved upon, even if there is nothing wrong with the colour scheme used? For example, green and white is a very ‘safe’ colour palette, but it’s the tints, tones and hues that can make the green and white colour choice exquisite and interesting.

  • Composition: this is the facet where a judge looks for shape/form, proportion, transition, harmony, balance, movement, dominance, contrast, rhythm.

  • Technique: this is so important as this is where the judge is looking and handling the design in finite detail, looking at finish, construction, method of construction, condition of materials. An experienced, successful competitor will take time to ensure that every detail, every petal, every part of the mechanics, every piece of material included in the design is clean and well-constructed. The Judges will be asking ……Can it be improved upon?

I am very proud to be one of the founder members of the UK Floristry Judges Guild, a group of professional floristry judges, who consistently encourage florist designers to compete and push the boundaries, to think and create outside their comfort zones, and to stimulate the judges and fellow competitors.

Karen Barnes





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