Thursday, June 30 2016
Sounds like a man’s job right? Not this time. I’m referring to the actual structure/building of the arrangement and how it’s hidden in the design. For us at Synergy in Silk, every time we build an arrangement we’ve got to conceptualize how to engineer the design so it’s secure in its container and sturdy enough to hold the branches, floral, preserved, etc., we’ll be building in it. This is even more important when we design large scale arrangements for atriums and the holidays.
For starters we use Styrofoam instead of Sahara foam which crumbles and can’t hold the thick branches like Styrofoam can. The Styrofoam comes in 2” sheets. This means we have to measure and cut each sheet and fit them into the container. Once the cutting is done, we then place each Styrofoam piece like a layer cake, starting fairly deep in the container so we can anchor the tallest, heaviest stems. Once all the Styrofoam is in, we’ll run 36” hyacinth sticks through on a diagonal to hold all the pieces in the layer cake together, gluing the sticks from the top. After testing they’re secure, we moss the top to cover the foam and sticks. Sometimes we even spray the sheet moss we use so it doesn’t fade over time. This we don’t have to hide.
Now the design begins. When dealing with large scale arrangements we use large scale natural and faux floral/greenery. Sometimes the stems are as thick as 4” round. For these we need to prepare a hole in advance usually with a screwdriver to help start the hole so we can get the depth of the stem needed to secure it properly. As we continue to design we’ll use things like barked wire to tie the deep seated, thick stems together which makes them super sturdy.
Once the design is crafted, we do our “icing”, the finishing touch. We look carefully at the design and wherever we see silver shining through from a pick or a faux stem we’ll use preserved reindeer moss or lichen moss to cover it up and keep the design looking natural. A large scale arrangement like this can take anywhere from 2-5 days, or more to finish depending on its complexity.
Speaking of design mechanics, I have learned a lot over time. My wonderful staff too has been very helpful with insights for better engineering. Especially my friend & Project Manager Shawna, who often blows the minds of the men at Home Depot when she knows more about materials for a project than they do. Kudos to my staff!
So that’s design mechanics. I hope you enjoyed this blog and learned a thing or two on what it takes to build a structurally sound large scale arrangement.
In peace & love,
Wednesday, March 16 2016
Observations, Trends and Reality
I’m a décor magazine junkie. The thing I always notice is the type of floral design they display in the vignettes. For about the last year or so I’ve notice the same design style featured; a bunch of the same flower variety, in the same color, put together in a tight grouping in a vase. It’s beautiful. The other style I notice are two big leaves of the same variety, cut to different lengths, and displayed in a tall vase. Again, natural and beautiful. I would call it a trend but I haven’t found it identified as one nor could I find a name for this style. So I’ll just refer to it as same flower style.
I’ve seen a vase filled with dozens of white Phalaenopsis orchids that was breathtaking. When you need a pop of color in a room this style does the trick. Easter is coming, imagine how pretty a bunch of pale pink peonies (silk of course) would be in a vase as the centerpiece on the dinner table. Gorgeous right? Regarding greenery, what about putting some beautiful sea glass in the bottom of a clear vase and adding two large monstera leaves cut at different heights. That would be a natural looking, non-fussy accent piece in almost any room or entry way. Simple yet striking. But neither these designs were listed among the trends for 2016.
According to the January 2016 article in ElleDecor.com, 4 Floral Trends to Keep On Your Radar This Year, they interviewed Kathleen Hyppolite of Kat Flower and Emily Howard Kudva of Phileanor, two floral designers from Brooklyn, who suggested there are four trends in floral design to watch in 2016. I need to note the designers shared their trends as full tablescape ideas. However, since this blog is only reporting on the florals, I’m leaving the china, etc., out.
Trend One: They said the color of the year is “Rose Quartz”, which is basically a light or pale pink. Not the just any pale pink either but a “muted pink”. They paired it with “vibrant” greenery which helped to pop the muted pink. The design style was loose, natural looking and informal. Very pretty and feminine.
The trends aren’t just for table centerpieces either. Synergy in Silk recently designed a wreath for a client using the "rose quartz" color scheme. The wreath has soft muted pink peonies, vibrant green hops, and other complementary colors. The photo below is an example of this trend in a wreath.
Trend Two: This trend is almost the complete opposite in color. This trend is for bright pinks, oranges, corals and lime greens featuring the addition of fruit and other natural elements, like feathers. The trend is to keep the elements seasonal, so lemons and limes in spring and summer, pomegranates and apples in fall. The design style remained loose and natural looking on the informal side.
Trend Three: It’s all about contrasts. The arrangement they designed was beautiful with bright purple blooms and soft yellow accent flowers. Any two contrasting bloom colors will work. Depending on the colors chosen the result could end up being “dramatic” or fancy or “whimsical”. The style is loose, natural and informal.
Trend Four: The final trend deals with texture (check out our last blog). It could be the shaggy petals of the blooms, the unique greenery used like gray ruffled dusty miller, or the color or texture of the container, or all three. The way they explain it is to say the design should be "complex", loose and "feminine". This trend can encompass the elements from the previous three trends like muted pinks, bright colors, fruit and feathers. Just to make their point, as I was browsing through my latest Martha Stewart Living magazine, April 2016, and the Good Living section has a photo of a beautiful arrangement of “fuchsia azaleas with crimson crab-apple blossoms…and a pop of high-contrast white daffodils.” Hello trend four. The design is really gorgeous!
The question I ask myself is will these trends be in demand? What is the reality that people will ask for them at Synergy in Silk? So far, the answer is a definite maybe. When working with Interior Designers, they like the loose and airy style. Depending on their client, sometimes feathers, sometimes fruit are requested to be in the design. However, the colors will always be different depending on the fabrics being introduced into the home, so far muted pink hasn't been in demand . However, this year Sherwin Williams announced that the new color for 2016 is off-white. Wowza! As a floral designer that color opens the door to everything.
As far as I can tell, it comes down to this: personal preference. If you like red, we’ll probably put red in the design. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t mentioned as a new trend color, it’s what you like that is what counts. Especially with faux botanicals because you will have the arrangement/wreath/sconce, etc., for a long time. It also comes down to what colors are currently in your home. Most people don’t redecorate every year to keep up with the trends.
For now, I’ll continue to be a magazine junkie and observe the styles and read all about the trends, but in reality, I’m always going with what the client likes best. Whatever that may be.
Til next time, in peace & love, Sharon
Tuesday, March 01 2016
...You need it in silk floral arrangements as well. The kind of texture I'm referring to is natural texture like a piece of wood, burlap, or natural moss; it's something you can touch and feel and see that has a rough or raised texture. Like draperies or pillows with great texture, faux botanical arrangements need that great texture too. Why? I'll tell you why. Because otherwise it would be plain boring.
I've been working with silk flowers for over 30 years and I can tell you they look more real today than ever before. However, each silk stem of the same variety is eactly the same. As a designer, I have to bend it, cut it, or reshape some of the petals, otherwise all the flowers will look too perfect. That's where texture comes in. By varying the silks, the greenery and adding a branch, some reindeer moss and maybe some vines, the result can trick the eye into thinking the faux floral arrangement is real. The best part is unlike fresh flowers which only last about 10 days, a silk arrangement lasts a lifetime.
That said, the key to keeping your faux botanical arrangement looking real is to keep it clean. There is no bigger no-no than a dusty silk floral arrangement. I use a Swiffer duster with some lemon Pledge (or whatever is on sale) sprayed on the duster. Then gently go over the flowers and greenery in the arrangement. I've been told a hair dryer can work well too. If your arrangement is seasonal pack it away in a plastic bag and out of the sun. Silk flowers will fade. You can even toss in a pine sachet so it smells good when you're ready to take it out again.
If you ever go to the the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce you can see how texture is blended into a faux botanical arrangement. The design is right in the center of the atrium. In a large design like this, texture is important in tricking the eye into thinking the design is real. This is a seasonal arrangement that will be displayed for three months before it is changed out for the next season (lease service). This design also must have interesting texture all around the arrangement because it will be viewed at 360 degrees.
The next time you look at an arrangement see if you can seek out the teture and determine if its faux or fresh. It may not be as simple as you think.
One last word on texture, the container can be a source of texture too. A carved piece of wood with an indented center or a nubby ceramic vase will serve as great texture. Never skimp on containers because they can make a good design great or a great design look cheap. Containers are another area we can discuss in a future blog...
Please feel free to comment on this blog or contact me directly if you have any questions regarding faux florals and texture. I would love to hear from you.
Until next time, sending you peace and love.