‘Tis the season when our favorite floral designers are in high gear. Design studios and floral shops are hubs of exhilaration. Ever wonder how they do it? Ever had some questions for a designer? I was fortunate to gain an e-mail interview with busy designer, Rachel Cho.
Rachel is a favorite floral designer in much of New York City. Upscale, trendy, versatile—her arrangements are voluptuous. Her mission: To create inspired floral arrangements that leave our customers speechless. “Every arrangement we make is unique to one’s occasion, mood, style, and personality.”
I can’t do her talent justice here with one photo, so explore her website for arrangement visuals, ordering info, and tidbits about her background. Her fresh spirit shines through and her attention to service is evident. www.rachelchoinc.com
A highlight of the year is her participation in the unique Tulips & Pansies event, next one scheduled for May 19, 2011. Do tune into the Tulips & Pansies model runway video (link at the bottom of the post). And you thought Chiquita had amazing neck muscles!
Let’s get right to it. I asked . . .
Are there particular flowers or other elements you would recommend for December? Anything new in the floral business or holiday flower styles this year that customers might like to know about? Right now tulips, amaryllis, hyacinths and other bulb flowers and berries such as ilex and berzelias are starting to come in, which marks the start of the holidays for me. I love seeing
this and the change in season, not only for the weather, but for the flowers you haven’t seen in awhile and are reminded of working with them again. I get extremely excited about tulips. They just tickle me! Super Parrots, which are a parrot variety in white and green are one of my all time favorites.
Just this week I received a very cool e-mail from one of my Holland vendors introducing the cut cyclamen. Here is what they say:
“Cyclamen as a cut flower is actually a very old phenomenon, but because of various factors, it became a thing of the past. But today, the year 2010, the cut cyclamen has made its comeback, and it is available in various trendy colours. Not only are the colours overwhelming, the shelf life is fantastic too! You can enjoy a lovely range of colours for 2 to 3 weeks.”
It is in season from September through January. I feel giddy and excited to try these! [Nancy’s note: the quickest way I view images of flower types is at Wikipedia, the Images tab.]
Is there a type of event or job that is particularly fun or exciting for you? The creative aspect of customizing a wedding is always fun, but something that always excites me and is quite challenging is the annual Tulips & Pansies Headdress affair (link at bottom of post). This is a highly publicized and much anticipated annual fashion show, where fashion designers are paired with the top NY floral designers and asked to create an ensemble of dress and an inspired headdress made with flowers. Celebrity guests and judges are invited to this high profile event. All proceeds go to the Village Care NY, an AIDS charity organization.
Before a big event, do you have any technique for staying calm or mentally preparing? I can’t imagine styling AND wondering if the flowers will last for the major event. The only mental preparation is making sure everything is organized and all of the logistics of the big day is planned. All staff members must be given tasks and know what the next day entails so that there is good communication and things run smoothly and efficiently. That includes the planning of keeping the flowers as fresh as possible, delicate vases and glasses are prepped and secure. As long as the styling concepts are prepared in advance, they all come together on site impromptu and planned. I would say enough rest and sleep is important the day before, but it often doesn’t happen that way!
Is the Legends Hospitality Suites gig at Yankee Stadium typical or comparable to other corporate jobs you have had? Yankee Stadium by far is the most well-known and recognized account, but there are many corporate jobs, such as MoMA, the Horticultural Society of NY, exclusive flower expert of Lord &Taylor, countless floral gifts to celebrity clients. I value every customer and client, and take high priority for each bride, each gift order, each funeral alike.
Every individual’s event is important to them, and I view everything on (what I like to call) the “cellular” level. I apply this way of thinking towards every aspect of the business, every customer, everyone exposed to my flowers. For example, for a 500-person event, all the flowers for each table have to be perfect and pleasing to the eye from all angles, and everyone has a good crisp and fresh view of the arrangement. (I digress but my point is everyone is important.)
Does the color red have a special significance for you? The Red Collection on your website is stunning. Thank you. I love the classic red rose that opens beautifully. I love to use two varieties of reds in one bouquet to create that classic but modern look of an all-red rose bouquet. My two favorite combinations of reds is Freedom and Cherry Love. Their head sizes are similar but have a slightly different opened shape and a shade of red off from each other. Combined together, they compliment each other extremely well. I handle them when they are just breaking open, which involves a little bit of timing.
Anything else you’d like to add? Late last year, I decided to take a much needed break and take off for the month of January of this year. This was the first time in my entire career leaving NY. I decided on the flower capital of the world, Holland, to be my main stay. So I made a trip out to Amsterdam, then traveled around Europe — Antwerp and Brugge in Belgium, then Paris and Berlin, then back to Amsterdam. To say the least, it was an amazing experience. I was there to immerse myself in new cultures in whichever city I was in, but always with flowers and design in the back of my mind.
I stopped in all kinds of flower shops every time I saw one. I met the most incredible people, all locals who were ready and willing to show me around, teach me, also taking a great interest in my interest and love flowers. It was all so fantastically strange and wonderful!
While in Holland, I visited Aalsmeer, the world’s biggest flower auction. It was truly an incredible and eye-opening experience. It’s amazing the amount of organization and work that goes into all the flowers that come through here, get live-auctioned off daily, then distributed around the world.
While there, I met one of my vendors who graciously gave me a grand tour of their massive facilities. I felt like I stepped into a highly organized ant farm with endless trolleys of flowers being tagged, boxed, labeled, shipped, etc., etc. The flowers are grouped in different areas that are temperature controlled in varying degrees depending on the variety and their needs. These folks are so humble but take great pride in their business, as I could see why and I can appreciate on a whole different level after being exposed to this side of the business.
This January, I will be heading to Asia, mainly Korea and Japan. I’m going back to my Asian roots to see what people are talking about when they say a lot of my style and design have Asian influences. Fellow designers, clients, critics, and most importantly my mother have said this. I never meant for it to happen as my design style came about more organically.
I tended to always lean towards clean, modern, and contemporary, but still natural and organic, letting the flowers fall as they may, if you will. I would manipulate by editing and pairing, and not mixing too much. I would combine interesting colors and textures to bring out and enhance the particular ingredients I would be using. (Very much like cooking, which I also take great interest in).
One of the most important things to me has always been framing and balance, and very keen on symmetry. I am excited to explore these elements in more detail, as I was never formally taught the ikebana style.
Not only will this visit (and traveling in general) enrich my mind, creativity, and design aesthetics, but my customers and clients will also benefit. I am so excited, I booked my flight just yesterday!
Rachel Cho’s website: http://www.rachelchoinc.com/
Access Rachel’s facebook page here http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Rachel-Cho-Floral-Design/72516846415.
Tulips & Pansies Event – one of many videos, this one at Village Care. http://www.villagecare.org/Event_Information/tulips/
I look forward to hearing more about Rachel’s adventures!
Nancy R. Peck