April showers bring May flowers, but for celebrity florist Lewis Miller, every month demands a good bouquet. So when Moda Operandi Founder Lauren Santo Domingo decided to host a flower arranging class this month, she reached out to Miller to work his botanical magic, while teaching others how to do the same. For background, Miller is a New York City-based florist extraordinaire best known for his whimsical and over-the-top approach to flower design, where conveying a greater message of joy is equally as important as the aesthetics of it all.
Miller is the man behind New York City’s most raved-about flower pop-ups-arranging blossoming bouquets around trashcans and statues alike-with a floral panache that has attracted the likes of top celebrities including Meghan Markle, who commissioned him to do the arrangements for her baby shower. Now, Miller joins forces with Moda Operandi to craft his magical bouquets, while welcoming warmer weather into our lives-and our homes. Having launched a home division in 2018, Moda Operandi offers a diverse array of products sourced from around the globe, all of which embrace the brand’s signature whimsicality.
Embracing florals as a part of the Moda Operandi brand was a no brainer for Lauren Santo Domingo. “Florals for spring? Groundbreaking!” she says. “But actually, our client gravitates towards a feminine aesthetic when it comes to everyday dressing. In fact, a search for ‘floral’ on Moda turns up over 1,000 results.” As a floral enthusiast herself, Santo Domingo applies her fashion philosophy to florals and home design in a similar manner. “Why be boring? I like to mix homewares from established brands with pieces from young designers (many of whom I discover on Instagram). Right now, I’m obsessed with Paul Arnhold’s hand-blown glass vases. They come in the most beautiful color combinations, so just about any flower you put in them pops.” Combining classic design with a subversive quirk is a foolproof way to make a statement with even the most a petite bouquets, she explains.
And just as fashion trends emerge each season, you can trace a similar pattern with florals. “There’s been an undeniable shift in the relationship between flowers and fashion in the past few years,” Santo Domingo says. “Florists are now just as an integral part of setting the tone of a runway show as the hair and makeup or the soundtrack. One of my favorite New York designers, Adam Lippes, collaborates at the inception of each season with his florist, Putnam & Putnam, to create exclusive prints for his pieces. His collections are shown at his Brooklyn townhouse, surrounded by their abundant arrangements, making both the flowers and the clothes all the more covetable.” This sort of osmosis of florals and fashion, nature and homes, is what gives flowers such an incredible charm. And when it comes down to it, flowers are more than just an eye-catching accent. For Santo Domingo, fresh flowers are her most necessary indulgence. “They bring life into a space, helping to boost the mood and inspire creativity,” Santo Domingo says.
Now, we sit down with Lewis Miller to discuss the importance of this all-star collaboration, and how to bring florals into your own home this spring.
ELLE Decor: What fueled your passion for florals and flower arranging?
Lewis Miller: I come from a family of gardeners. My mother, grandfather, great grandmother, they were all gardeners. My grandmother had sweet violets growing in her front lawn as well as rose bushes that reached 10 feet tall with hundreds of blooms on each bush. There were amaryllis growing out of the ground, their bulbs the size of soccer balls. I was very lucky to have grown up in central California, where the climate is very similar to the Mediterranean. It was basically an oasis and I was fortunate to have grown up surrounded by nature. So a passion for florals is in my blood and DNA.
ED: How can florals enhance or refresh a home for spring?
For spring, for any time of year really, flowers are the ultimate accessory. They give LIFE and VITALITY to an otherwise beautiful but static object or home. The difference between a room or home with flowers and a room without is the difference between day and night.
ED: Beyond aesthetics, what are some other ways flowers can revive your home?
LM: Absolutely psychological. They bring joy. However fleeting, flowers can lift your spirits and connect you to nature. Similar to a visit to a museum or a walk in the park, flowers in the home can refresh your view and perspective on your day.
ED: What are your favorite ways to incorporate flowers into your home?
LM: First, choose your vase the way you would a beautiful object in your home-it should look great in the room without flowers. Then it’s easy to simply add blooms or foliage. SIMPLE, SIMPLE, SIMPLE. Don’t over think it. I love to choose heaps of single stems for my home. There should never be more than one mixed arrangement in a room and everything else should be a single element that is plucked from the one mixed arrangement. I also believe that an expensive vessel can take on inexpensive flowers and look extremely chic, but the reverse doesn’t always work.
ED: Are there any specific flower types that best complement certain design styles?
LM: Of course. I wouldn’t bring in tropical plants into my upstate farmhouse. However, exotic orchids can work if situated in mossy, cruddy pots so that they appear to have come from ‘the greenhouse out back.’ Modern homes can take any flower-it’s all about the container and the application.
ED: For those with home gardens, how would you recommend bringing flowers inside to decorate with?
LM: Everything from roses to dahlias to tulips can be brought from the garden inside. However, a more clever trick that I use-for the winter and early spring months-is to make sure I have an abundance house plants that thrive indoors. Then, I take my cutters and trim from my two fruit-laden Calamonda orange trees, vines from my jasmine, tendrils from ivy, and leaves from ferns. Then, a handful of tulips or roses from the market can be paired with my home-grown plants and morph into something much more unique and special.
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