coffee + cre8tive {aug 18 '06}

"Here are fruits, flowers, leaves and branches, And here is my heart which only beats for you" - Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)

Did you catch An American in Paris Flower School in the September issue of Domino (page 102 + 105)? If not, it was about reporter, Cynthia King and her adventures in Paris arranging flowers at the prestigious flower school, L'Ecole des Fleurs. Trained by Laure Primard (Cynthia describes her as an Audrey Tatou type with a warm smile that she later learns conceals a French sneer), the day begins with the words, "You make arrangements with your personality". Cynthia says that she learns later in the class, that this is a big lie, since the class was all about rules and order.

I respect that her instructor followed a certain order in doing things, which seemed to frustrate Cynthia very much, but towards the end of the class she has a bit of a change of heart, "You have to admire the the technique of the French, their mastery and ability to blend nature to meet an aesthetic sensibility. But I'm American. I like things a little shaggy, quirky, and natural." The class gave her confidence to handle flowers, which in the end, seemed to be worth the uphill battle she seemed to have with Ms. Primard.

I'm American but I look through a different lens I guess, I don't like things shaggy, I actually prefer having rules and order, especially when I'm taking a class - I wouldn't register at an expensive school in Paris and expect anything less than what Cynthia experienced. I also think that there are certain rules that you need to follow for everything, whether you are writing a book, decorating your home, or riding a bike. Tossing flowers in a vase may not be wrong, but it's also not exactly right, either. My mother taught me floral design, and there are specifics to follow or else your arrangement (no matter how lovely the flowers) can look depressed or flat, or even die very quickly. You also can harm the flowers, and if standing for a long time arranging them, your back and feet, so you do need to wear proper shoes and stand correctly, with good posture. Like many of you, I've taken classes in various art schools and the ones I walk away learning the most from incorporated a sense of seriousness, lots of direction, constructive critism, explanation of procedures, etc. If I wanted a laid back "do what you want" approach, I'd buy a book, gather some friends, and learn at home.

Here are some tips from the article:

1) Dark flowers should be placed next to lighter ones for maximum contrast.
2) Stems are part of the display (in some cases) so should be neatly cut.
3) The bouquet should be round, but with height in the center.
4) Add fruit to your bouquet, an apple or lime on a stick works nicely.
5) Spriral stems to create a some (how to video on
6) If using a clear vase, remember presentation goes all the way down to the stems. Tie the stems with raffia when you place the bouquet into a glass vase - holds them together and looks chic!

Visiting Paris? One day classes are offered at the L'Ecole des Fleurs for around $150 Euro per day. They also offer classed in the decorative arts, learn porcelin painting, decorative painting, embroidery, and charcoal portraiture. Classes on beauty, entertaining, food, wine, chocolate, and fashion are offered as well.

psst: Buy yourself a bouquet this weekend and add some fresh blooms to your space!

(images from L'Ecole des Fleurs)