Where to Find Exceptional Flowers in Six Different Cities
Last November, as part of T’s new Black Book series, we shared a guide to florists in six cities worldwide, from Los Angeles to Milan to Tokyo, showcasing the diverse range of talent working in the field today. For our second installment, we ventured to six more cultural capitals — Chicago, Miami, Mexico City, Berlin, Seoul and Sydney — where highly sought-after makers are pushing the art of floristry in new directions. Some of the designers featured here are deeply engaged with their culture and land — Raquel Cajiga, for example, frequently scours the fields of southern Mexico for indigenous herbals that give her arrangements a distinctly local character. Others, such as the Sydney-based artist Lisa Cooper, draw upon their unique biographies to create powerfully personal statements. Still others, such as the activists Quilen and Hannah Blackwell of Chicago’s Southside Blooms, have made environmental stewardship and community building a key part of their mission. Regardless of their approach, each designer produces mesmerizing floral works, whether charming naturalistic bouquets or theatrical showpieces, that are sure to delight their recipients this Mother’s Day, or any day.
Dusk Lily Floral
Unusual | $ | dusklilyfloral.com
At the onset of the pandemic, Taylor Bates found herself furloughed from her job in fashion and trapped in a city under lockdown. She began experimenting with floral design in her apartment, using stems purchased from her local grocery store and, by summer, Dusk Lily Floral was born. In her compositions, Bates gravitates toward bold, graphic statements in punchy, psychedelic hues. Glossy anthuriums, sinuous tendrils of amaranth and electric phalaenopsis orchids — which she now sources from nearby markets and wholesale floral studios — feature heavily, bringing an element of playfulness and whimsy that she sees as an antidote to Chicago’s urban landscape. “In a city that’s so architectural and industrial, there’s an absence of natural beauty,” she says, “so I strive to bring it to life in my work.”
Field & Florist
Earthy | $ | fieldandflorist.com | ?
Nine years ago, Heidi Joynt began growing flowers in a vacant lot in Chicago and founded the city’s first flower-share program, selling her blooms under the name Field & Florist. Since then, Joynt and her business partner, Molly Kobelt, have established a flourishing farm-to-vase operation that includes a brick-and-mortar shop in the Wicker Park neighborhood, as well as a seven-acre property an hour and a half away in Sawyer, Mich., where the studio’s blooms are cultivated without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Joynt and Kobelt bring a sensitive eye and an intuitive approach to their designs — joyful tumbles of roses, hellebores, ranunculus, anemone and spirea that capture the spirit of their farm. “There’s nothing quite like arranging flowers you’ve grown,” says Joynt.
Earthy | $ | southsideblooms.com | ?
In 2014, the husband-and-wife community activists Quilen and Hannah Blackwell founded Chicago Eco House, an urban farm and youth outreach organization that aims to alleviate poverty through sustainable agriculture. Within three years, the nonprofit had transformed two lots in the Englewood neighborhood into thriving floral enterprises that provided after-school jobs to at-risk youth. Eco House now runs four such sustainable farms in Chicago, and last year the Blackwells took their model a step further and launched Southside Blooms, an online shop. From April to October, Southside offers vivid arrangements brimming with sunflowers, zinnias, Persian lilies and double tulips. “We love cheerful colors that emphasize life, hope and beauty, but add touches that reflect the grittiness and resilience of the inner city,” says Quilen, who notes that the bouquets come wrapped in a neighborhood newspaper.
Unusual | $ | calma-miami.com
After working in the New York magazine world for nine years, the Miami native Elizabeth Jaime returned to her hometown in 2018, looking to explore a more personal creative practice. She began making floral arrangements for family and friends, and launched Calma in January 2019, immediately landing commissions from brands including Glossier. Jaime draws inspiration from Miami itself, with its dense tropical foliage and Art Deco architecture. “But I also like to let the flowers speak for themselves,” she says. At Calma, dramatic blooms in bold colors — peach pincushions, yellow oncidiums, pink heliconias — are often mixed with more classic mums and dahlias, and grounded by graphic windmill palms or textured explosion grasses. The flowers are mostly sourced from local wholesalers, but Jaime occasionally forages for ferns and fruiting branches, and cuts caladium and monstera leaves from her garden.
Earthy | $ | rosecolouredfloral.com
Working with lush varieties of ranunculus, peony, rose and tulip in dusky shades of pink, purple and coral, the designer Sara Darling crafts undeniably romantic custom bouquets. “We strive to create pieces that mimic nature in shape and movement, almost as if the elements were growing together organically,” says Darling, who has a background in art history and launched Rose Coloured in 2017 as a floral subscription service, before expanding it into a studio for bespoke designs. In 2019, she opened a storefront in the Little River neighborhood of Miami, where customers can order arrangements, purchase individual fresh and dried flowers at the stem bar and participate in hands-on workshops on floral design.
The Storyteller Flower
Classic | $$$ | dstorytellerflower.com
Dariel Hernandez grew up in Cuba, and became enamored with flowers at his uncle’s farm near Havana, where he would help cut roses for bouquets each day after school. He moved to Miami at 19 and worked in retail for several years but returned to his first love in 2014, founding the Storyteller Flower to pursue what he calls a “profound passion and God-given talent for flowers and design.” At his studio in Doral, just outside Miami, he creates opulent, color-soaked confections, from single-variety bunches of parrot tulips or garden roses to dense mixed compositions that might include, say, jewel-toned ranunculus, lipstick-red peonies, purple hellebores, sweet peas and quince branches. “I don’t like seeing empty spaces in my arrangements,” says Hernandez. “They must tell a story and offer an explosion of colors.”
Unusual | $ | instagram.com/florescosmos
For Alberto Arango and Ramiro Guerrero, who founded the studio Flores Cosmos in 2007, flowers have an almost mystical significance. “To me, working with them is about conveying the idea of impermanence in the most beautiful way possible,” says Arango. The self-taught designers, who are married, produce dazzling floral spectacles, from elaborate botanical headpieces to large-scale arrangements bursting with tropical blooms. Their custom-made bouquets often strike discordant notes — ruffled blue irises might be coupled with spiky air plants, or tender purple palm inflorescence with prickly pear cactus — and are intended to convey both the fragility and the resilience of the natural world. Each work is also deeply collaborative: “Flores Cosmos represents the love we feel for each other,” says Guerrero. “Our florals are made by four hands and two visions that fuse in one unique arrangement.”
Flores Rudas Plantas Rudas
Earthy | $$ | instagram.com/floresrudas.plantasrudas | ?
The designer Raquel Cajiga, who splits her time between Mexico City and Oaxaca and delivers to both areas, finds inspiration — and often unusual plants — in the majestic mountain landscapes of southern Mexico. Her compositions carry the colors, textures and aromas of the land itself: Native flora such as wild poppies, thistles, plumeria rubra, cosmos and dahlias — the national flower of Mexico — are clustered alongside aromatic avocado leaves and medicinal herbs like rue, and presented in wood-fired clay vessels handcrafted by the potter Francisco Martinez in Atzompa, near Oaxaca. “The sun, soil and terroir of Oaxaca and Mexico City, the ebb and flow of the seasons,” says Cajiga: “I throw them all in a blender every day, and get Flores Rudas.”
La Florería & Co.
Unusual | $$ | lafloreriaco.com | ?
At her studio in downtown Mexico City, the designer Dafne Tovar devises soft, romantic combinations of ethereal flowers and lush foliage — with offbeat elements thrown in. A typical bouquet might feature clouds of ranunculus and spray roses paired with the purple-black berries of poisonous pokeweed, or majestic birds of paradise towering above handfuls of green dates or deep scarlet hibiscus. Each composition strikes a balance between the beautiful and the barbed — a contrast Tovar sees as deeply embedded in daily life in Mexico City. And she also takes an environmentally conscious approach: Most of her materials come from local and sustainable growers at Mercado de Jamaica, the metropolis’s sprawling flower market, and the studio avoids floral foam. “I like that my work connects me with others’ purpose,” says Tovar. “People want to communicate through flowers and I get to represent their messages.”
Earthy | $ | marsano-berlin.de | ?
At Marsano’s colorful boutique in Mitte, customers can browse vintage furniture, antique vases and home goods — along with a selection of vibrant cut flowers and ready-made bunches. Founded in 2005 by Annett Kuhlmann, Katrin Jahn and Andreas Namysl, the company has in recent years made sustainability a cornerstone of its practice. In 2019, the team began cultivating many of their own plants on the city’s outskirts, using no-till gardening methods, which protect the fragile soil food web. Their yield — including sumptuous dahlias, narcissus, cosmos and tulips — appears in bouquets arranged with an unstudied, naturalistic approach (one of the studio’s hallmarks is juxtaposing elements in different life stages — for example, open roses with buds and rose hips). The results, Kuhlmann says, are “wild and full of love, movement and energy.”
Studio Mary Lennox
Unusual | $$ | marylennox.de
The designer Ruby Barber often turns the very idea of a bouquet — a contained and domesticated snippet of nature — on its head. Through her studio, Mary Lennox, named for the young protagonist of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel “The Secret Garden,” Barber creates operatic botanical installations that have taken over cavernous public spaces, including the Galerie Courbe at the Grand Palais in Paris (chandelier-like hangings dripping with purple amaranth and helichrysum) and the Chorin Abbey in Brandenburg (creeping clusters of dried hydrangea and marcela). “I’m interested in where art, nature and culture fuse and interact,” says Barber, who grew up in Australia surrounded by both grand landscapes and contemporary art (her mother is a gallerist). She particularly prizes working with hard-to-find cut flowers such as wisteria and datura, she says: “There’s an aura about the plants I can’t have that I find extra alluring. It feels like the highest level of luxury to me.”
Unusual | $$$ | anatomiefleur.com | ?
Amandine Cheveau and Jean-Christian Pullin, whose respective backgrounds are in art history and theater, founded the avant-garde flower studio Anatomie Fleur in 2016 and see their practice as blurring the lines between floral design and performance and installation art. They have realized sculptural stage pieces for the musician Lyra Pramuk, for a show at the infamous Berlin nightclub Berghain, as well as a decadent floral backdrop for a work by the artist Miles Greenberg at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The duo often choose plants for their allegorical significance, and their maximalist creations frequently pair classically beautiful blooms such as crown imperials, snapdragons and carnations with knotty or rangy weeds. “We don’t shy away from exploring darker subject matter or dabbling in what could be considered bad taste,” says Pullin. “There is a bouquet for every vibe in life — whether it’s sadness, joy or pleasure.”
Earthy | $$ | instagram.com/botalabo_jungheeyeon
Since 2007, Heeyeon Jung has been designing subtly elegant bouquets from her studio in Seoul’s Hannamdong neighborhood. As a former student of fine art, she finds inspiration in everything from the paintings of Korea’s Joseon dynasty to the canvases of Dutch masters, and she brings those influences together to create what she describes as “Western-style flower arrangements with hints of Asia.” Jung strives for a “designed naturalness” in her work, she says, and favors wild-looking blooms with unruly petals and twisting stems. Her signature bouquets mix a wide range of forms and textures, often featuring shapely blossoms — Japanese andromeda, anthuriums, orchids, peonies, daffodils — alongside branches of eucalyptus, native shrubs such as tamarisk, and even berries and rosemary from her own garden.
Unusual | $$ | muguborn.com
In her former career, Hyunju Lee frequently trekked into the mountains near the city of Paju, South Korea, to photograph plants for books on natural ecology, and it was during these trips that she fell in love with the flora of the Korean wilderness. She soon began experimenting with botanical design, went on to train at the London Flower School and in 2018 founded her studio, Mugu, which roughly translates to “pure and without any decorations.” Lee is partial to smaller, exquisitely composed arrangements that play with contrast, scale and form. “There is traditionally a negative space in Korean art,” she says, “so to leave empty spaces is very natural to me.” Her bouquets often include surprising elements such as foliage that insects have nibbled into unusual shapes, yellow field mustard, bristly globes of balloon plant, purple amaranth and even collard leaves and pea pods — some of which she forages or grows herself.
Oblique Flower Design
Earthy | $$$ | instagram.com/kiimyoungshiin
In her minimalist blue-tiled studio in the Itaewon district of Seoul, Youngshin Kim creates charming hand-tied bunches ranging from single-variety clusters of crimson poppies and golden mimosa to robust, heady mixes of peonies, sweet pea, delphinium, anemones and garden roses. Her most exuberant works have the loose feel of wildflowers gathered by the armful from a pasture or an overgrown garden — and indeed, Kim does occasionally incorporate camellia blooms plucked from a friend’s property on the island of Jeju, off South Korea’s southern coast. “When I make bouquets, I imagine nature without anyone touching it,” says Kim. “I want people who receive my bouquets to feel like they can hug nature.”
Classic | $ | myviolet.com.au
The designer Myra Perez was born in El Salvador but raised in New South Wales, and her work combines the vibrant palettes of her Latin heritage with a reverence for Australia’s natural landscapes. At her shop My Violet in Roseberry, just outside Sydney, customers can choose from a selection of seasonal bouquets that favor generous, soft-petaled blooms like orchids, garden roses and tree peonies, mixed with sculptural and textural flourishes such as puffs of dried smoke bush, stalks of bottle brush-like banksia (which grows throughout southwestern and eastern Australia) or the pendulous traps of the carnivorous pitcher plant. “My goal is to make each bouquet shine,” says Perez. “And I let the flowers guide me.”
Unusual | $$ | doctorcooper.com.au | ?
Lisa Cooper forged an intensely personal connection with flowers at age 13, when, after her father died, she found every surface in her home filled with condolence bouquets. “Flowers are profoundly metaphorical for man,” says the designer, who holds a Ph.D. in fine art. “They represent birth, life and death, and are the ultimate medium for the expression of human emotion.” It’s a belief that informs the otherworldly custom arrangements and installations she creates in her studio. At once vibrant and somber, her compositions celebrate uncommon forms and colors, and brim with striking varieties such as red flowering gum, green-and-pink caladium leaves and Sturt’s desert pea, with its red-and-black podlike flowers. Cooper sources the most sublime specimens she can find, often visiting local farms to select and cut them herself, and she personally shapes every arrangement. “A bouquet is complete,” she says, “when, to my eyes, I have achieved beauty and, to my soul, I have achieved harmony.”
Classic | $$ | grandiflora.net
Opened in 1995, the studio and store Grandiflora takes its name from the magnolia grandiflora trees that line the street on which it sits, in Sydney’s Potts Point neighborhood. The founder, Saskia Havekes, describes her process as “curating and emulating nature, with an unusual twist.” She and her team offer exquisitely composed classic arrangements that nod to Australia’s floral abundance. Customers can choose single-variety or mixed bouquets, which might feature timeless favorites like king protea, O’Hara roses and phalaenopsis orchids, along with a few varieties endemic to the continent, including golden wattles, boronias, flannel flowers and callicarpas. Havekes’s goal is to let the blooms themselves sing. “They’re the stars of the show,” she says. “And I feel like a conductor rather than a florist, orchestrating the best performance for any given message of the heart and mind.”
$ Bouquets starting at $75 or less
$$ Bouquets starting between $75 and $150
$$$ Bouquets starting at $150
? Denotes studios with a particular focus on environmentally friendly and sustainable practices.
Illustrations by Sofía Probert.
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