As a copywriter, it might go without saying that I’ve always been fascinated by words and writing. What may not be as obvious is my lifelong fascination with everyday design. From baking to knitting to custom shoe design, I’ve always loved working with my hands to create varying forms of art that interact with the world instead of simply sitting on a gallery wall. This past year, I started working at a flower shop in addition to BatesMeron, and my previously amateur appreciation for design has matured and grown because of it.
While there are plenty of different styles of floral arrangements and innumerable traditions historically, the basic challenge of floral design is pretty much the challenge all designers and artists face: harmonizing color, shape and texture to convey a message.
And people certainly expect their flowers to be clearly expressive. From “hope you have a great day” to “feel better” to “please forgive me” to any number of slightly varying but still unique messages, each combination of colors and shapes has to be carefully considered.
At Asrai Garden, I’ve learned what we like to call “Victorian English Garden” style. A well-balanced, low and lush style of arranging, we build most of our bouquets in-hand (rather than in a vase or floral foam), and the traditional, bulbous shape of hand-tied bouquets is fairly consistent across the arrangements we produce. But even with so many factors predetermined, each bouquet is a challenge. In a process that often feels architectural, we are tasked with building the same shape out of brand new elements each time.
The flowers each have their own personalities we have to wrangle. Stock is sturdy and good for caging in floppy greens. Solidago and wax flower are fluffy and useful fillers. Peonies and irises may look puny at first but will soon open and evolve into magnificent blooms that will fill in more space with time. Like different fonts in a logo or flyer, some like to play together; others just don’t even make sense in the same room. Yet, somehow, different combinations of these blooms fit together (not too unlike a botanical game of Tetris) as we create the beautiful shapes our shop is known for.
As I’ve learned more about shape, I’ve also been forced to reject everything I thought I once knew about color. Turns out, I don’t actually hate pink, which is surprising considering the deep prejudice I’ve held against it for years. Rusty red, a color I’ve never given much thought to before, is the most magical when found on a ranunculus, but the same color doesn’t give me any feelings on a stem of dianthus. It’s strange. Form and content, color and shape—these are concepts I always knew were related in important ways, but I never quite understood how inextricably. You can look at them separately, sure, but they don’t make any sort of sense in a vacuum.
And that’s something I’ve really appreciated since joining the BMSD team. The same principles apply. Form and content: writers and designers work side-by-side here, collaborating to figure out the very best way to express our message. Every detail of our designs is created keeping in mind that how you frame something is just as important as the content of the copy or the individual images.