I read about the Little Flower School in T Magazine about a year or so ago. Since then, I have been hoping to take a class with them. This past weekend, I finally got the chance. You can read more about the teachers (Nicolette and Sarah) and their school here, but I will just say that the class was amazing. They provide all the tools and flowers, and it was all set up in a beautiful studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I was extremely impressed and I am hoping to take a class with them again soon. Here are some things that I learned about Floral Design.
1. It’s really hard to do well, and it is quite humbling.
2. Color: Each flower has nuance, look for all the colors in the flower and it’s petals, it will help you pair it with others. Like this flower in the middle in the shot below, it has burgundy, red, gold, and purple in the center. Amazing! So, observe undertones and overtones. They also advised to start with a simple palette, restraint in color is hard, but better.
3. Build a Foundation: One thing they taught us was how to start building an arrangement, and much like a stew, you have to start with a foundation. Since this was a winter citrus class, we started with citrus, eucalyptus, and cedar. Once we had built our base, we could move onto flowers. Typically, your foundation will be heavier items, like citrus for example. Lastly, keep the middle open, this doesn’t mean no flowers, but airy.
4. Focal Flower: Choose your focal flower. So, which flower/s are going to be the star? To continue the analogy, what kind of soup is it, what is the main ingredient? Don’t use too many ingredients. If you have two similar flowers next to each other, make them different somehow, either one higher than the other, or one more bloomed than the other, etc. And, consider the stems too, some stems are beautiful and beg to be seen, others are not. Lastly, you can also remove leaves along the stem when necessary.
5. Wispy Gesture: These are flowers that are more delicate and added at the end, like a garnish. They sit above the arrangement.
6. Room to Breathe: Make sure that there is air around each flower, and remember that they will continue to bloom, so you need to give them room to grow.
7. Shape: Asymmetry is advised, one side should be higher than the other, and you should think of the arrangement in two halves/two sides. Also, start with an idea of what kind of shape you are trying to achieve.
8. Connection Flowers: Some flowers, as we saw above, have more than one color and can tie parts of the arrangement together. So if one side is pink and the other orange, you can insert a flower in between that has both tones.
8. Size: Generally speaking, the arrangement will be 1.5 times larger than the vase.
9. Tools: Chicken wire is better than foam, and environmentally friendlier too. Also, another great tip, use a lazy Susan so that you can turn the arrangement while you work.
10. Cut the Stems on the Bias: More surface area = more water for the flowers.
11. Style: I think the biggest lesson was have your own style, Nicolette and Sarah have their own style, they don’t follow anyone’s rules but their own and I think this is why their work stands out. I am inspired by what I learned, and will definitely try to emulate them, but I am also going to experiment, and see what I can come up with. Floral design is an art, and I love it!