All design, from architecture to floral design, is pleasing to the eye when the principles of design are used. There’s a reason most people look at things and immediately have a reaction to whether they like it or not. Sometimes it’s difficult to articulate why we like or don’t like what we’re looking at, our eyes just know that something is off balance. Good flat lay design draws the eye to a clear subject first, then leads it through the frame to rest briefly on different objects in a relaxed way. When there is just a scattering of things on a flat surface with no framing, it can feel very chaotic and make us want to look away.
Below are two examples of flat lays that both have our cheesecloth running through them to pull everything together, but one looks chaotic and difficult to look at, the other looks cohesive with pleasing lines that pull your eye through the frame. The anchor of the fabric is an important component of the last photo, but doesn’t work at all in the first. Why?
The first photo has lines pointing all over the place. There are straight lines conflicting with round shapes and a smattering of objects and colors means that your eye doesn’t have anywhere to rest.
The second photo has clear distinctions that show your eye where to go. The lines are pointing in the same direction, there are two sides to look at and rest for a few seconds, and the colors are all in the same palette which makes it simpler for the eye to digest it all.
Choose a subject, make that the focal point, and then remember to use symmetry and simplicity to complete the flat lay. If you keep adding objects and don’t know where to put them, take some of them away. Less is more in a flat lay, and many items can be very difficult to assemble in a pleasing way. As you progress with your flat lay skills, adding more layers of objects will become easier.