The future of flowers is now, as innovative companies bring a fresh take to an ancient art.
PHOTO BY CARLOS HERNANDEZ AND STYLING BY KELSEY TIMBERLAKE EVENTS
Year-round, lasting roses, vibrant arrangements, unforgettable event designs, and floral art installations are transforming moods and brightening spaces even as the days grow shorter and cooler. These florists are changing the game with designs that capture the delicacy of nature and create an undeniable addition to any space.
Color Theory Design Co. is a Portland, Oregon-based design studio co-owned by Alyssa Lytle and her husband, Brian Hummel. Together, the two offer floral design, event design, floral delivery and even commissioned oil paintings. As a third-generation artist, Lytle handles the creative side of things while her husband manages the marketing and technical portions of the business. “I see Color Theory as being set apart by our holistic design approach — our professional backgrounds in fine art, technology, building and, well, color theory. Between the two of us and our skill sets, we are able to have a unique take on floral design,” says Lytle.
Their stunning arrangements are alive with color and texture and can only truly be experienced in person. From weddings and other events to intricate arrangements and more, Color Theory Design Co. creates an atmosphere as well as an experience with florals. When asked where she draws her inspiration from, Lytle says, “I get inspired by everyday color stories that are easy to miss — a beautiful yellow tree in the fall next to a little chartreuse bungalow in Portland. A rusty bridge with spots of coral and red paint to hide the graffiti at Barton Springs in Austin. Explosions of pear blossoms against the cold gray sky and whitecaps of Lake Michigan right outside the Adler Planetarium.”
Art in the form of flowers and more is only the beginning for Color Theory Design Co. “I would like to expand the design work we do to accommodate the mind and soul in unique ways — retreats and classes … and so much more.”
The co-owners of Rose Box NYC, Inbal Hornik and Dana Dadush, explain that the luxury company “provides the best quality roses that will actually last for a whole year in beautiful and fashionable hat boxes.” Together the two have found a way to pre-serve the fleeting nature of roses. These various rose boxes maintain their beauty for so long that they become a part of a room’s decor if kept in the proper conditions.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF COLOR THEORY DESIGN CO.
Color Theory Design Co. creates an atmosphere as well as an experience with flowers.
“We are so in love with roses and both think that roses are the symbol of beauty. We wanted to create something that would make people happy and make them smile,” says Hornik. The touch of fashion and longevity in the roses pair perfectly to highlight an old-time classic with a contemporary twist.
“The flowers go through a special preservation process with a natural ingredient that allows them to stay fresh for a very long time,” says Dadush, who speaks to the dedication that goes into each rose box. Carefully grown, selected and arranged, the flower boxes speak for themselves in terms of elegance and beauty.
PHOTO COURTESY OF INBAL BAR
Rose Box NYC offers roses that will last a year.
Once the fall foliage fades, fend off the gray with a contemporary arrangement from Sage Flowers. The company is a breath of fresh air among classic florists. Based in South London, the pair of friends responsible for the beautiful shop are as undeniably chic as their arrangements.
Iona Mathieson and Romy St. Clair are the co-founders of Sage Flowers, which stemmed from a lifelong interest in florals from Mathieson. St. Clair says, “Personally, I was desperate to get out of what I was doing (healthcare consultancy) and work with creative/like-minded people.” The two are increasingly inspired by travel and small things from a color palette to a mood.
Their online shop boasts a delicate pink hue paired with a subtle yet rich navy blue to hint at their taste for color and style. Using seasonal and often local sources, the two artists often use dried flowers in tandem with fresh flowers to create texture. Sage Flowers creates modern displays that seem to harness the natural yet ephemeral beauty of flowers.
Working with prominent brands, such as Gucci, Instagram, Marie Claire, Royal Oak & The British Academy, the pair wanted to move away from traditional choices and forms and pull inspiration from all over. “Inspiration comes from anything and everything,” says Mathieson.
An Age-Old Tradition
Floral arrangement appears throughout centuries in cultures from all around the world. Extensive and intricate practices throughout history have transformed and molded contemporary florists today.
According to The History of Flower Art, published on My Modern Met in 2018, during Egypt’s “Age of the Pyramids” there is evidence in carvings/sculptures that flowers — especially the well-known lotus — herbs, and other plants were left in tombs, cherished, and symbolized prosperity. In Medieval Europe, flowers were relished in religious ceremonies. Ancient Greece and Rome began the tradition of wedding bouquets, which fended off negative energy and represented fertility. Throughout the Victorian era, flowers were a means of communication during a time of reserved men and women in high society. Entire books were dedicated to the symbolic meaning of flowers from various species to specific colors. Bouquets of flowers could carry the length of secret conversations.
Romy St. Clair, co-founder of Sage Flowers.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF SAGE FLOWERS
Iona Mathieson, co-founder of Sage Flowers.
The pair describes their company as a “design-led, South London-based floral design on paper, but in reality, it’s really a lot more than that. It’s two friends doing what they love and trying to be an active and core part of our communities, be it local or creative.”
This editorial originally appeared in The High End Winter 2019.
Known for enchanting floral “graffiti,” Flower Designer Lewis Miller Is Sought-After for everything from weddings in Aspen to Parties in Venice.
By Samantha Myers
Photo ©Don Freeman Photography
Usually Lewis Miller’s beautiful flower arrangements can be found decorating exclusive events for his clients, which include the likes of Chanel, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Vogue. But recently, Miller’s stunning designs have been popping up throughout the streets of New York City — beautifying city landmarks and otherwise unappealing trash cans in what he has coined “Flower Flashes.”
Despite his firm’s East Village location, Miller has not abandoned his country roots. “I’m living the closest thing to a country lifestyle in Manhattan,” Miller jokes of his situation — but it’s this specific city-meets-country aesthetic that has resonated with high-end clients enough to establish his firm as one of the premier floral powerhouses in the entire city.
Born and raised in California farm country, Miller developed an appreciation for nature at a young age and eventually moved to Seattle to study horticulture and landscape design. “I grew up as a farm kid and was always surrounded by flowers and growing things,” says Miller. “Then, it translated into floral design.” In 2000, Miller brought his discerning vision of country life to New York City, and worked for a successful floral boutique before launching his own company only two years later: LMD New York, Lewis Miller Design. “I have always loved growing flowers,” he says. “I love the immediacy of floral arrangements, and especially the effect they can have on a space.”
Beyond his roots, Miller’s inspiration comes from homes and gardens — “from the bucolic English garden, to the most formal,” he says. If versed in art history, one can also recognize the immediate influence of fine art on his designs. In fact, his book, Styling Nature: A Masterful Approach to Floral Arrangements (2016), which is filled with painterly photographs of his organic creations, discusses seventeenth-century Dutch still lifes as an influence.
“Art and painting are huge sources of inspiration for me,” he says. “The color, energy … sheer gut, visceral reaction it can give you. Whether it be a super modern, sloppy wet painting, or a really rich, sexy masculine Caravaggio, or a precious Flemish still life.”
The bulk of Miller’s work comes from creating arrangements for events — from travel and destination weddings in Aspen or the South of France, to cocktail parties for exhibition openings at The Met, to birthday parties in Venice. “We are primarily a social event business, but we do a select amount of corporate work,” explains Miller. He has decorated perfume shoots for the Italian luxury label Bulgari, and provided floral designs for an American Express Top 200 Member soiree. “My clients are not about the flash,” says Miller. “They want it to be gorgeous and inviting and warm, but they don’t want to look like they are spending the money. It needs to look completely organic.”
One of the more memorable celebrations Miller has worked on was a black-tie wedding at New York’s famous Katz’s Delicatessen, with a guest list donned in furs and tuxedos. “I had to do that one really quickly,” he recalls. “But I love doing things fast. So many things can take such a long time — you can excruciate over it for months, but it kills the energy.”
Flower Designer Lewis Miller
Photo ©Lewis Miller Design
To satisfy his love of immediacy, Miller has recently found an unexpected fusion of flower design and street art through his “Flower Flashes,” which has garnered immense, positive media attention. “I love art when it’s sort of one simple idea and it’s just done. And it’s there for whatever reason, and it’s not overly thought-out. As much as I love the country and fresh gardens, I love street art,” says Miller.
Using leftover flowers, Miller and his team complete these acts of floral graffiti at random spots throughout the city, thus earning him the nicknames “Banksy of Flowers” and the “Florist-Bandit,” among others. “It’s ethereal. It’s there and it’s gone. People take the flowers, and I like that. I want to see how it gets destroyed. People love flowers — you put a flower in front of them, and they are going to take it.”
“Doing something where no money is attached is really liberating,” Miller adds. “When you’re doing it as a gift and to brighten up someone’s day. Someone will walk around the corner and see the flowers and it’s so freeing. I had no idea it was going to blow up like it did.”
When it comes to describing his arrangements, Miller often uses the words “lush” and “sumptuous.” But when articulating overall style, he has crafted a definition with help from his clients. “You know, somebody once said that they were not only gorgeous, but also masculine gorgeous,” he says. “It feels rich, but completely unassuming. Thought-out, and abundant and inspired, but nobody feels like it was slaved over. Whether it’s a handle of weeds, or anything, I use it — it doesn’t have to be the most precious flower in the world.”
While Miller’s favorite kind of flower changes with the season, some of his choice ones include a Black and White French Anemone, fragrant garden roses and Black Hollyhock.
Photo ©Lewis Miller Design