Maurice Harris is not your typical florist. The Los Angeles–based proprietor of Bloom and Plume makes arrangements that are more akin to art installations, and on his new show, Centerpiece, which premiered May 18 on the new streaming platform Quibi, he’s finding inspiration from some of his fellow creatives.
On each episode (a new one will be rolled out each day until May 26), Harris first chats with his guest and then creates an intricate vignette for them which reflects their personal creative aura. Fans can expect to see deep conversations with Rashida Jones, Maya Rudolph, Tessa Thompson, Moses Sumney, Melina Matsoukas (director of Queen and Slim and of the music video for Beyoncé’s “Formation”), Kerby Jean-Raymond, and Jeremy O. Harris.
Below, Harris gives AD his take on creativity, art, and the healing power of flowers.
Architectural Digest: When you interview the guests on the show, what are you trying to get at in order to find inspiration for their flower installation? With Maya Rudolph, for example, the conversation got pretty deep.
Maurice Harris: She really can do a lot of different things, and I don’t necessarily think as a culture we take pause to understand what it takes to be one of those people. The most beautiful things often come out of very dark places. I think there is something really beautiful in that. As a creative myself that does a bunch of different things, I know that that comes out of my wanting to belong or wanting to be seen and wanting to be acknowledged and get affirmation from my peers. I don’t think that I’m unique in that need. So I am kind of looking for things that I see in myself that I want to be celebrated in other people.
AD: When working with clients outside of the show, do you ask them the same kinds of questions?
MH: It’s a little different. I’d say the approach is more about the space, how they live in the space, and who they are. But there also is a similarity there, because before I can do any party or project, I have to meet the client myself. I have to go to the space or see really detailed photos. I have to know what they are trying to accomplish. I am a very sensitive, intuitive person. [My astrological sign is] a double Cancer, and I feel a lot and sometimes it can be very oppressive. Other times it is super beautiful. For example, when I went to Patrick and Jillian Dempsey’s house for the first time—the one that was featured in AD—as soon as the gates opened, I fell in love with that place. I felt like I was transported to another place. As I walked the space I kind of just knew what to do when I did the flowers for them.
AD: You mentioned that with the creative people you are interviewing, darkness in their past is a common thread. Do you find the art of working with flowers sort of healing?
MH: I do. How do I explain it? This is a very complicated answer and I want to make it as simple as possible. I just recently understood my connection to nature being one that is really important. Intuitively, it is something that leads me, but it just recently came to my consciousness how nature and hiking and being outdoors, that’s where I really get a great sense of peace.... There is just something so relaxing and so joyous about making something beautiful instantaneously [with floral arranging].
AD: That feels especially relevant now. So may of us stuck at home are finding comfort in nature.
MH: I have lived in my apartment for 15 years, and I have a front yard at my place. It is just a dirt hill and I have never been interested in doing anything to it. In the last week and a half I have redecorated the whole thing. I have installed a retaining wall. I have installed brick, pressed decomposed granite into the wall. Raised flower beds. It is a whole situation.
AD: You’ve got to have a project in order to stay sane! One thing that is clear from the show is that your work has quite a defined aesthetic. How would you describe it?
MH: Natural opulence. I love nice and beautiful things. There is a vintage vibe happening, but it is slightly updated at the same time. There is blackness happening but there is this rich-old-white-lady thing happening. I am a person that likes print, pattern, color, texture, but I want it to feel like it belongs that way. I never want anything to look so perfectly manicured or so perfectly in place. The curtain motif is something that I love and you’ll find at my studio. And I love flowers growing out of anywhere, especially places they don’t necessarily belong.
AD: Is Centerpiece a talk show, a flower show, or both?
MH: I think this is a fresh idea. It is a new take on a talk show. A new take on how people give flowers as an art form and a craft. I try to have somewhat of an Andy Warhol approach: What is craft? What is mass market? What is fine art? Really blurring those lines, hopefully in an interesting way. This is not just a flower show. Flowers are one of the vehicles we use to communicate really interesting and thoughtful ideas about people’s creativity and to highlight people of color, that generally speaking don’t get that sort of platform or recognition on a regular basis, especially in a time when we are still being murdered and killed disproportionately for being alive. I think it is just always my goal to show the beauty that we are and why we belong.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest