The Golden Pair in the Flower World
Last September, designers Ariella Chezar and Max Gill gave their first flower workshop together. A unique opportunity to learn from icons in the floral industry.
West of Massachusetts and Connecticut stands the Berkshires, an area of woods and mountains with ancient Appalachian trails. The trees are so tall, the foliage so lush, the houses so perfect, it frightens. It is a sight to see squirrels jumping in towering trees, dropping nuts that explode as they fall to the pavement, just so that the youngsters pick up the delights of the day and run back to the lair. And it is a little disgusting – but not less fascinating – to discover that those orange patches on the road are what remains of hundreds of salamanders, which in their last night walk ended up reduced to a sheet after being crushed by the tires.
In the midst of such beauty, Ariella Chezar and Max Gill chose Stonover Farm, a luxury bed and breakfast owned by none other than Tom Werman, for the first flower workshop together. Both are part of the constellation to which every florist wants to touch. Ariella has more than 20 years dazzling with her art and Max only a few less. Both are devotees of seasonal flowers and a have a botanical inspiration style. That is why, a few days after the workshop was announced, the 17 places flew. Florists with consolidated businesses and neophytes came from South Korea, Canada and several points in the United States.
Every day, the routine was repeated. The flowers arrived early and a team distributed in buckets and vases after cleaning them. Meanwhile, and seated in a semicircle, Ariella and Max narrated their stories, relationship with customers and experience at events. Some keys:
- How to work the flowers? Do not torture them. Don’t force them to do what they don’t want. Follow the rhythm and direction they indicate. There is permission to ‘edit’. The goal is to imitate nature.
- Before start working. Basic, have a budget. If the customer does not know how much he is willing to spend, squeeze a figure through price ranges.
- Proposal breakdown. Four items: cost of materials, fees per design, fees for work hours, shipping and tracking.
- Design fees? Yes. If the customer likes your aesthetic and wants a consistent event, the design service should include flowers, table linen, cutlery, crockery, candles, and even stationery.
- How to lower a budget? Never sacrifice the recipe for a flower arrangement (the number of stems) because it compromises the design. Instead, decrease the number of arrangements. «Nobody delivers free chairs, why should we give the flowers?»
- Seeing is believing? If the client wants a sample, he must pay for it. Even so, make it clear that the flowers that are available today may not be for the date of the event. Florists are at the mercy of Mother Nature.
Max has overseen the flowers of the restaurant Chez Panisse for over ten years. His way of dealing with large arrangements, have a lot to do with his theatrical past. The eye always travels from left to right on a stage, and following that principle, he distributes its flowers: to the left and above there must be something powerful, flashy. Going down, a confessional and sober space. To the left, the exit. Before, he marks the perimeter and shoots lines of action through branches (never less than three types, conjugating textures and colors).
One of the characteristics of Ariella’s designs is the profusion of the species that she uses. As an example, in the orange arrangement on a glass bead, she worked with Sherwood’s peach, Mrs. Eileen and Sylvia dahlias; queen red, lime and salmon zinnias; local privet (Ligustrum vulgare), Annabelle hydrangeas, wild ferns, Love in a Puff vine (Cardiospermum halicacabum), Nicotianas branches and Kiss me over the Garden Gate flowers (Polygonum orientale). As you can see, the appeal of her creations is not only in the design or mastering a range of colors, but in the novelty of the plants she uses.
On the workshop’s last day, the focus was on the table decorations. Ariella was inspired by a painting when she chose the colors: green malachite, and peach rose. Tablecloths, candles, plates and flowers alluded to them, but it was also an etiquette requirement for the dinner.
Nothing was left to chance. Ariella and Max moved from table to table answering some last-minute restlessness, sharing anecdotes and roaring laughter. Between champagne’s sips, cold melon soup spoonfuls and salmon’s bites, the floral experience ended as it had begun: magically.