Art in Bloom at the North Carolina Museum of Art held in Raleigh each spring is a great place for floral inspiration. Each year when I attend the event, I wonder – how do they do it? So I asked the three floral designers from the American Institute of Floral Design, Aisha Crivens, Marcella Lopez-Villejo and Sherene Tan, who have presented there about creating floral arrangements.
Aisha Crivens started as a marine biology major in college until she took an elective class, Intro to Floral Design, and fell in love with floral instantly. She worked in the campus flower shop and loved experiencing the joy flowers and plants had on others.
Marcella Lopez-Villejo has been in the floral industry for almost 20 years, first in her own flower shop in her home country of Costa Rica, and now in South Carolina where she provides custom arrangements for a variety of customers.
Sherene Tan has a degree in IT, however, she always had a strong interest in arts and crafts. She started by helping friends with their wedding flowers and everyone at the weddings enjoyed her floral arrangements. Soon she received so many requests to work with flowers that she started her floral business in 1999.
What Inspires Your Floral Designs?
Aisha: Nature—the colors of life, filled with so many different patterns, textures, and details—reminds me just how much I am loved by the one who created them. With so much detail put into something that is so short-lived, I can only imagine how much more love and planning has been put into my life.
Marcella: I think of color first when I plan a design, and then its purpose—is it a gift, will it be in a home or office? After that, I think of the texture of the flowers and how to blend it all together.
Sherene: My inspirations come mainly from nature, as well as my multi-ethnic background—I grew up in the Asian country of Malaysia.
What Tips Can You Give Those Who Want to Design a Floral Arrangement?
Aisha: Process your flowers properly. Give them a fresh cut and make sure they have had a good drink of water. Secondly, creating groupings in your design is an easy and fail-safe way to achieve balance and interest in your designs. If you are not good with color or design, keep it simple. Just choose 1-3 of your favorite flowers and go from there. Or choose several different flowers of the same color to create continuity in your design and avoid the hodge-podge look.
Marcella: Make sure the stems aren’t too tall for the vase, and remember you need height variety in the arrangement for a balanced arrangement. Don’t be afraid when you get your bundle of flowers to play with the design. Use color as your guide, and relax and have fun. Look at it and ask, “does it bring me joy?”
Sherene: The care and handling of flowers is very important. Cut the flower stems at an angle, remove the leaves from below the water level, place the flowers in a clean vase or container with clean water. Make sure to arrange the flowers at different levels to add interest and depth to the arrangement. It is important to consider the form, size, and colors of the flowers, and determine where to place them to create balance, contrast, and harmony.
What is Your Design?
Aisha: I am doing a piece based on an art piece entitled “Sun Burts Through the Clouds,” created by my brother Michael Booker (the creative bug runs strong in my family). Using this piece created by him reminds me how important family is to me. The theme behind this piece of art is to shine your light for the world to see.
Marcella: My design is inspired by the ox cart tradition of Costa Rica. These carts used to transport coffee beans and were colorfully decorated to depict the region of the country where they originated.
Sherene: My inspiration comes from nature. I’m planning to use bamboo as it reflects people’s souls and emotions, as well as it shows the harmony between nature and human.