In a Flash, they’ll be gone!

Our pink and raspberry tinted Flower Flash Box disappears tomorrow, so shake off that quarantine fatigue and get some serotonin-inducing blooms delivered to your door. Our homes should be our sanctuary but it can feel difficult to channel that feeling at the moment. Treat yourself (or a friend who is alone right now and in need of a sweet surprise) to some gorgeous, happy blossoms! You will receive over one hundred stems and a series of instructional videos taught by yours truly. And I promise I will make it fun, fast and informative! 

Click here to shop! https://store.lewismillerdesign.com

The Lewis Miller Flower Flash Box

Here comes a jolt of energy and a pop of color! I chose crimson and hot pink for this week’s Flower Flash Box.  I have huge affection for this youthful and cheeky color combination and there is no better way in my opinion to kick these cabin fever blues than with a clutch of foxy blossoms.

Included in this Flower Flash box are two kinds of specialty tulips, the fringed Parrot Prince and Double Libretto, raspberry colored ranunculus, anemones in red and deep pink, hyacinths and if you purchase our deluxe box, you will also receive a bunch of hot pink peonies. It’s time to shake off Easter’s powdery pastels,  rattle the color wheel and heat things up! Click here to shop! https://store.lewismillerdesign.com

American Gothic: March 19th Flower Class

There is something so rich and decadent about dark, velvet-like flowers. When I started my company, I had a running joke with my design team: if I came in feeling blue or stressed out, I would say, “I need something cheerful–make me a black arrangement!” In the world of flowers, nothing is truly black. There are only shades of purple, red and chocolate brown. When used together; the nuances of these dark colors and tones becomes apparent.

Our first class of the spring season will focus on dark flowers and foliage and how they can act as a “shadow” for softer, brighter and more colorful flowers. After all, with the sweetness of Valentine’s Day behind us, it’s time to explore crisp edges and strong silhouettes.

March 19th’s class will focus on shape! I dislike the association of the word Gothic with horror; Gothic to me is one of the most elegant styles, especially American Gothic. It has everything to do with the silhouette, the object. Whether it be an iron finial, a buttress or in our case a gorgeous flower arrangement. To secure your seat in our March Class, please call 212 614 2734 or email irini@lewismillerdesign.com and have your credit card details handy. We also have April 2nd and May 7th classes available, for more information on these classes or to reserve your seat, please call our studios at 212 614 2734.

Lewis Miller Floral Design Classes are held at the LMD Studios at 803 6th Avenue. Class begins at 6PM with a champagne reception and ends at 8PM. Seats are non-refundable.

 

November News (& More Flower Classes).

Last month I welcomed students to the LMD HQ for our first in house flower class! I was so impressed by the arrangements everyone made and the night was more fun than I could have imagined. I am excited to teach and meet more of you! Since our November 20th class sold out so quickly, I am happy to announce an additional class on November 12th in conjunction with Pratt and my good friend Eileen Johnson, formerly of The Flower School of New York. The class is called Floral Art for Interiors and more information can be found in the link below.

https://www.pratt.edu/academics/continuing-education-and-professional/pro-certificate-programs/floral-art-for-interiors-certificate/

I am also heading to Charlottesville, Virginia next week to give a Ted Talk on the Power of Flowers. Flowers have been cheering me on my whole life and though the thought of public speaking doesn’t thrill me, I must confess, rehearsing for this special event has allowed me to celebrate flowers in my own way. I have been telling stories with flowers my whole life and this is a chance for me to tell another one and honor their beauty and significance in my life. Ted x Charlottesville is on Friday, November 8th and is being held at the Paramount Theater. Tickets are on sale now at http://tedxcharlottesville.com

On Saturday, November 9th I will be teaching a flower class in the breathtaking and historic surroundings at Montalto, with views overlooking Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Last day to reserve a spot for this class is Friday, November 1st and you can find all the details here:

https://www.monticello.org/exhibits-events/calendar-of-events/details/flower-workshop-with-lewis-miller/2019-11-09/

Lastly, we have added additional dates to our LMD Flower Classes held at out studios. Information is as follows:

Wednesday, January 22nd 2020 6-8PM
Thursday January 23rd 2020 6-8PM
Students will learn how to make a stunning seasonal flower arrangement using foam free techniques in a unique compote in the Flemish Style.

Wednesday, February 5th 2020 6-8PM
Thursday, February 6th 2020 6-8PM

Learn how to make a romantic and lush arrangement using fragrant blooms.

Each class will hold 16 students. Classes are two hours long and $325 per student. Non-refundable payment with credit card due prior to class date. To reserve your seats, please call our office at 212 614 2734 or email irini@lewismillerdesign.com  We can’t wait to welcome you!

LMD Flower Classes Have Arrived!!

After Lewis led Megan Markle and her close friends in a private flower class in celebration of baby Archie’s arrival, the requests from fellow flower enthusiasts came pouring in! We are happy to announce a series of 3 masterclasses starting in October. Don’t worry! We will be rolling out more in 2020 but for now we are keeping the experience very special, personalized and intimate. 16 students, a champagne reception (because bubbly and blooms are a great combination) and a two hour master class taught by Lewis in his studio.  Students will focus on the core principles of flower arranging; keeping color, composition, shape, texture and movement in mind. All students will receive one-on-one attention and get to take their beautiful arrangements home. LMD Flower Class Dates & Themes are as follows: 

Wednesday, October 16th 2019 6-8PM
Students will learn how to make a stunning seasonal flower arrangement using foam free techniques in a unique compote in shades of autumnal pastels.
Wednesday, November 20th 2019 6-8PM
Learn how to make a bountiful Thanksgiving centerpiece in the Flemish Style.
Wednesday, December 11th 2019 6-8PM
Festive wreath-making with an emphasis on textures and fragrance.

Each class will hold 16 students. Classes are two hours long and $325 per student. Non-refundable payment with credit card due prior to class date. To reserve your seats, please call our office at 212 614 2734 or email irini@lewismillerdesign.com  We can’t wait to welcome you!

LMD loves…

It’s no secret that I love stripes, summer and a good celebration. Last month, the founders of L.E.A.F., a festival of flowers coming to New York City in June 2020, reached out in the hopes that I could help announce the launch of their fantastic endeavor. I was thrilled to partner with them and help bring New York City into full bloom next week with a series of Flower Flashes. (You heard it here first!) And is there a better way to launch a week of blooms than with a cocktail party, fresh flowers and dear friends?

Please join me in celebrating the launch of L.E.A.F. with the amazing women behind La Ligne. I fell in love with the brand and their beautiful collection of classic tees and sweaters last year when co-founder Meredith Melling asked me to be part of #withLaBande and I am thrilled that there is now a physical home for all of their striped confections at their new flagship store on Madison Avenue. Come by Monday, June 11th from 4Pm – 7PM and shop for a good cause. A donation of the evening’s sales will go to the Central Park Conservancy and guests will have a chance to purchase a limited edition pochette featuring hand-painted flowers and hand tied bouquets made by yours truly. Looking forward to seeing you next week and celebrating all things flowers.

Please RSVP to rsvp@lalignenyc.com or info@lewismillerdesign.com

 

BLOOMS

“Not your grandmother’s florist” is how the forward, written by Victoria Clark for the new book Blooms published by Phaidon, begins.

Though I consider myself a veteran in this business, having been a floral designer for over 20 years, I am so happy to be included alongside my forward-thinking peers and friends in the industry– Emily Thompson, Ariella Flowers and Putnam & Putnam, just to name a few.

Like all of the talents featured in this book, my work has grown and evolved over the years and I am always pushing myself to remain inspired and connected to my craft. That is, in fact, how the Flower Flash was born. Blooms celebrates a new approach, captured not in a single style or trend, but in a multiplicity of individual and often very personal styles. And I love this!

It’s inescapable. The zeitgeist at the moment is all things FLOWERS. I do think eventually the pendulum will swing the other way, but right now; whether it be in music videos to fashion shows to fine art or photography, the line between floristry and other art forms has been blurred, creating something not yet classified. Clark goes on to write that “social media has brought the art of flowers to a global audience, and florists are no longer operating only from traditional shops and styling floral events–instead, pop-up displays, cult magazines and digital platforms from Instagram to blogs are offering today’s designers a variety of outlets for their work and a virtually unlimited audience.”

It’s no secret that I have a love/hate relationship with social media but I do agree that Instagram has amplified my work and brought it to a larger audience which I am grateful for. This beautiful book is another way to get to know me and to put it very simply, get a closer look at the things I love to make.

Blooms is available for purchase on amazon.com

April Showers bring April Flower Classes!

We are excited to announce two new flower classes to the month of April. Last year, LMD’s flower classes at The Whitby Hotel were penned “The New Brunch”! This made us smile. Last month, I was royally surprised when the Duchess of Sussex treated her closest friends to a private flower making class at The Mark Hotel, taught by yours truly in celebration of her soon-to-be bundle of joy. No photos were allowed and the details were hush-hush but what I can reveal is how we transformed the penthouse suite into a charming, old world flower shop with hand-painted tables, custom linens and screens covered in botanical prints. These kinds of details are also found in our regular masterclasses. I love surprising my students with hand made recipe cards and all the fresh cut flowers are held in antique, galvanized buckets. With individual cutters and a freshly pressed apron, I want each of my students to feel like they’ve stepped into a candy shop but instead of bonbons, there are countless blossoms to admire and consume! These classes are meant to be educational but also elevated and whimsical.To kick off the opening of my Lewis Miller for UrbanStems collection at The Conservatory in Hudson Yards, I have decided to offer two intimate classes on April 16th and April 18th. These seasonal floral masterclasses will be held in the Teak Room from 6-7:30pm. Showcasing my signature style while using the prettiest flowers of the season, you will learn how to make a gorgeous and sumptuous arrangement that exudes a spring feel to take home with you.Lewis Miller for UrbanStems masterclasses held in The Conservatory’s Teak Room are $295 per person and include a champagne reception.

To reserve a spot in the class please email rsvp@theconservatorynyc.com

 

Tea Time!

To celebrate the arrival of fall, I have partnered with The Whitby Hotel to create a special afternoon tea inspired by my favorite seasonal blooms.

I like flowers that are rich, painterly and sumptuous. My favorites change constantly but I always return to the black and white anemone. They are delicate and graphic, timeless and modern. They satiate my love for duality with their angelic white petals and inky black center!

Another favorite is the pink garden rose. So very English and old-fashioned but not mumsy. They also happen to be my birth flower. The Whitby pastry team realized all my favorite blooms so beautifully. They are almost too pretty to consume!

When thinking about seasonal flowers, there is nothing like a Dahlia in the fall. They are also very English, with their fiery tipped petals and giant starburst shapes, they remind me of a beautiful, blazing autumn sunset. I also chose the peach Dahlia for the Whitby Tea because the color reminds me of my favorite Farrow & Ball paint color called  “Ointment” which the Orangery Room at the Whitby is painted in. It’s an archive color which makes it that much more special.

Finally, snowberries are something I look forward to all year long. They are like a magnificent string of pearls, delicate yet indestructible.

In addition to the teacakes and sweets, no traditional British afternoon tea would be complete without a selection of sandwiches, delicious scones served with clotted cream and preserves and a choice of speciality loose leaf teas. If you reserve a table for this Saturday and Sunday, a special LMD floral arrangement will arrive at your table made with all of my favorite flowers. Enjoy!

Flower Power

Did you know that out of 150 historical public statues in New York City, only five depict real life women? So when Old Navy approached us to “Flower Flash” these trailblazing women on the eve of National Women’s Day, LMD could hardly say no. It was a true feat to conceptualize and execute these Flower Flashes in one night. Each female statue had their challenges and funnily enough, another woman decided to make her presence known. The morning of March 8th, Mother Nature blanketed the city in several inches of snow, making for a very interesting install!

Eleanor Roosevelt, 72nd Street, Riverside Drive

Harriet Tubman, 122nd Street St, Nicholas Avenue & Frederick Douglass Blvd

LMD was very proud to partner with Old Navy, as 65% of their workforce is comprised of females. A statistic that personally makes me smile, as my team is also powered by strong, creative females. Being able to highlight these leaders and outfit them with thousands of flowers during a very dreary and cold March morning was inspiring for me and very surreal for many early rising New Yorkers.

Gertrude Stein, Bryant Park

Joan of Arc, 93rd & Riverside Drive

In addition to gifting Eleanor Roosevelt with a meadow of Hudson Valley grown wild flowers and a matching shawl, a floral necklace for Golda Meir, a giant bouquet and floral skirt in shades of bright and joyful yellows for Harriet Tubman, a lush green boa for Gertrude Stein and a 30 foot billowy garland of baby’s breath for Joan of Arc, we also decided to outfit the Fearless Girl with a floral cape.

Golda Meir, 39th & Broadway

Not wanting to leave out the Financial District’s Charging Bull, we created a very special and ornate floral crown in shades of eye-catching pinks ranging from hot fuchsia to bubble gum.

 

The Great Escape

This is the story of one (make that 500) peonies and their journey from a field in Virginia to MacDougal Alley, New York City. LMD’s Flower Flashes have amassed a lot of love and attention, and tons of Instagram photos. One image caught the eye of Bloomia, one of the largest flower growers in the USA. Federico Fusco, Bloomia’s Marketing Director, reached out to us and after a series of exploratory and effusive phone calls with our team, we embarked on a wonderful partnership.

Here at LMD, we strive to create beautiful things and to be our best. That starts with our team and how we treat each other and everyone we do business with. Bloomia agrees with this philosophy and their approach to sustainability is sound. They eliminate wasteful packaging, grow locally and have biological control systems that reduce pesticides, you can read more about their practices on their website, www.bloomia.com.

Creating a peony Flower Flash is a great luxury, one stem can cost as much as 8 dollars. So to nestle hundreds of these bewitching beauties in between slabs of grey concrete and scuffed up, giant, orange construction barriers put an enormous smile on Team LMD’s faces. I am sure if peonies could talk, they would have expressed their surprise and wonder at their new temporary home. Due to the popularity of these seasonal flowers, this flash didn’t last very long at all and every single stem ended up in the hands of a New Yorker, final destination unknown!

Class is in Session

Last night, loads of stylish followers took fashion communion at the Met Ball and worshipped at the feet of the one and only Madonna. This morning, Team LMD began to look forward to the second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day.

Last Fall, I was approached by The Whitby, a Kit Kemp designed hotel in midtown Manhattan, to host a series of Flower Classes in their gorgeous Anrep Room. I couldn’t say no. I love working with Kit and her team in such a colorful, textured and splendid space. And I also enjoy creating the in-house florals and holiday decor at the hotel every year. Titled “Back to Flower School” the three part series began with a Christmas Wreath Making Class in December. Juniper, eucalyptus, and fir were strewn on a long, wooden farm table and each guest had a wreath frame, gloves, wrapping wire and their own clippers to work with at their station. Festive embellishments included cotton, orange slices, blue thistle, pinecones and striped, grosgrain ribbons. Students ranged from twin 10-year-old sisters, a teenage daughter and her mother, and a super stylish woman and her cute Norwich terrier, Alfie. (Her boyfriend had gifted her the class as an early Christmas present!)

The good times didn’t stop there, our second class was on the heels of Valentine’s Day. Scheduled on a dreary Monday evening, I was a little nervous regarding the turn out. But whatever reservations I had about people wanting to come out in the cold were quickly snuffed out as I was informed there was a substantial waiting list for the class! With this group of flower enthusiasts, I decided to include a floral recipe and treat them to some incredible “dirty pastel” blooms: Japanese sweetpeas, lilac-tinged anemones, sherbet colored tulips, hot pink ranunculus, kangaroo paws, flowering quince and more. I was happy to see some men in my class as well. I am always pleasantly reminded how knowledgeable some of my students are and was thrilled to find out that a handful of growers, some traveling as far as North Carolina, connected on the internet and organized a fun trip to NYC to take the class and meet each other and talk shop. One student got lost on the subway and took a series of mini Flower Flash-esque photographs with her arrangement, chronicling her journey underground and finally back to her hotel.

Our third class is this Monday, May 14th, in honor of Mother’s Day. And though all the seats are taken, I do expect to keep this series going in the future. After all, cultivating a desire to learn new skills keeps us all students of life. And though I am technically the teacher, everyone I have met so far during this series of classes has taught me something and this is a real gift and keeps my pursuit of beauty and knowledge alive and well.

 

 

High Tea

Harry Winston’s Tea for special guests and editors was held on the terrace, high atop their corporate offices in midtown Manhattan. Sparkles and skyscrapers were found in abundance as we transformed a large patch of cement into a veritable secret garden. The first crucial step to this transformation was laying down yards and yards of faux sod. I love the stuff, it’s extremely realistic and unlike real grass, it holds its bounce and vivid, green coloring.

With feminine and romantic leanings, we wrapped staircase railings using tumbling green euonymus and white blooming spirea. Iron canopies were overgrown with armfuls of cherry blossom branches, downy peonies, delicate sweet peas and fragrant lilac. Each table was dressed in large floral printed linens that paired perfectly with natural bentwood chairs and sweet arrangements of roses, ranunculus and flowering geranium.

The juxtaposition of the hard, steely and soaring lines of the neighboring buildings and the soft, fluffy blooms in shades of blush, peach and rose, made guests feel like they discovered a pink diamond on a grey New York City sidewalk. My incredible team managed to create this feminine, lush oasis yesterday morning and by 7pm that evening it had all but vanished!

And though guests weren’t gifted any gems, they did get to take home a stunning nosegay of sweet peas, peonies and roses.

Movie Night

I love a Wes Anderson film. A true sucker for his precious, quirky and meticulously ornate pictures; I love his completely unique universe of color and how every frame feels like a delicious diorama from the mind of the most stylish kindergartner on earth. So I was happy and excited that LMD got to throw the premiere for his latest movie, Isle of Dogs, set at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Inspired by a location in the movie called Trash Island, we worked with Frost Production and Floris Special Events to project a giant still from the film onto the Met stairs. Unsurprisingly, Anderson has concocted a world of garbage that is filthy and somehow still utterly gorgeous. This portrayal of dissonant beauty appeals to me immensely. If you follow our Flower Flashes, you know we have a thing for trash and the cans they come in! We celebrate the pretty and the gritty that is New York City by adorning construction sites and garbage piles with hundreds of the brightest, seasonal flowers.

Incredible Tai Ko drummers were brought in for entertainment as planetary flowering branch arrangements made of soaring cherry blossoms dotted the after party. Artist George Magiras hand painted charming signs that popped up on the bars, sushi and soup dumpling  stations, paying homage to the films Pro and Anti Dog movements. It was a fun night filled with playful nods to the director’s keen eye for detail.

Caterer: Olivier Chang
Planner: Floris Special Events
Photographer: John Labbe

 

Puppy Love

Last year I became the proud father of a border terrier. He weighed about 7 pounds when I picked him up in Pensylvannia and I could fit him inside my cardigan sweater. I named him Dutch Blue. He quickly stole my heart and became LMD’s resident heart breaker, helping with the breaking down (gnawing) of flowering branches, zip ties, rope and anything else he could get his scrappy, little paws on.

In honor of National Puppy Day, I thought I’d share a handful of canine candids of some other beautiful pups photographed with our blooming Flower Flashes.

Creating these floral street art installations at the break of dawn attracts the City’s early risers. And most of them are dog lovers/walkers. To our surprise, we have amassed a small but sweet collection of our furry, four-legged friends hamming it up in front of our flowers. We appreciate you and your walkers. Thank you for not peeing on our work and instead snapping a photo with them!!!

 

Happy Friday!

Just as another New York Fashion week comes to a close, and the frenzy of our most recent Valentine’s Day Flower Flash where we piled heaps and hedges of pink carnations outside of an abandoned bank brought dozens of New Yorkers to a screeching halt, so did I become dumbstruck by a work of art.

The artist Paulette Engler painted a watercolor of a floral arrangement that appears in the Color chapter of my book Styling Nature. It landed in my email inbox and with one click, I was left speechless. The watercolor painting is impeccably crafted and simply gorgeous! If there’s one thing that leads me in hopes to happier days, it’s surely art and when it comes from a stranger who was inspired by something I created, it makes my heart soar.

We all need to feel inspired and handmade works of art is my high ground. I am always longing to find something to look up to, to be inspired by, that makes me feel alive and energized. Here is a collection of our Flower Flashes recreated and reinterpreted in different mediums from enthusiasts around the country. I love finding them on Instagram and reading the letters that come to our studio. We all need ideas which will surprise and make us wonder and I am just so grateful that our Flower Flashes have become a vehicle for other artists to engage in the love we are trying to put out into the world.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Love,
Lewis

 

 

 

What a Difference a Year Makes!

One year ago today, in the thirty minutes before 6 a.m., when New York is still dark and chilly outside, my team and I went to work on creating our first Flower Flash. Since that day in Central Park, we have created nearly two dozen Flashes. We kidnapped a trash can on Bedford Street on the first day of summer. Threw it in the back of a truck, flashed it, and then plopped it at the foot of the Highline at dusk. A collaboration with Farrow & Ball led to our biggest Flash to date, a wild posting campaign on the corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue during New York Fashion week. We even flew to L.A. (for a day) and concocted a series of tumbling trash bags filled with marigolds and dahlias on Santa Monica Boulevard. Working in the bright California sun and without the comforting din of New York City traffic was nerve-wracking but I love that LMD had the opportunity to bring a Flower Flash to a new city.

When Irini, my Director of Special Projects, asked me back in September of 2016, what needed to change in order for me to feel fulfilled professionally. I knew the answer lived somewhere in the idea of making a gesture of goodwill. We discussed whether contentment can lead to complacency. In my case, yes! Work is busy, my team is amazing, clients are happy. But something was missing. And then it clicked: How better to counter my professional norm of throwing extravagant parties for my fortunate clients than giving something similar to the everyday New Yorker. The Flower Flash was born.

And that I was reluctant to call these floral installations “Street Art” will come as no shock to those who know me well. Identifying as an artist has always made me break out in hives. But what initially began as a personal experiment to reinvigorate and reconnect me to my craft, turned into a beautiful shared experience in a city of millions. Any reservations I had about what to call what I was doing bubbled up and quickly deflated after watching New Yorkers joyfully interact with the Flower Flashes.

No matter how popular or elaborate these flashes become, our mission and our intent will never change. To bring beauty to New Yorkers and produce a positive, emotional response through flowers. In most cases, the Flower Flashes last only a few hours. Meeting one face to face mostly depends on luck and what kind of chronotype you are, but though they are physically fleeting, there is a lasting effect to the work. I don’t think I will ever be able to properly explain how rewarding it is for me and my team to watch as people engage with the trash can installations. If Art is a reflection of the world and the times we are living in, it is very clear to me and my “merry team of flower bandits” that people need Beauty and Joy in their lives. Truly, now more than ever. Watching people’s reactions to the Flower Flashes emphasizes the basic goodness in all people and prioritizes compassion and the need for LMDxNYC to carry on

Pink is the Word

Never has a color perfectly captured the zeitgeist of a generation like Millenial Pink. But truth be told, artists and designers have had a love affair with many variations of the gorgeous hue way before millenials were born. From Nantucket Prepsters with their salmon pink trousers to Picasso and his rose period, the color has never been out of style. Even with my leanings towards green, white and black, pink has consistently bewitched me and found its way into many a floral arrangement. It’s not hard to see why with so many stunning shades found in nature. The Bowl of Beauty peony and Yves Piaget cabbage rose being two of my favorites.


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Millenial Pink, however, has reached a higher echelon and somewhere between scrolling through endless pink things on Instagram (from clouds to Cuisinarts), I succumbed to the soothing, palatable shade. It’s like the tempurpedic of pinks, your pupils just sink into its fleshy glow and relax. I decided to build a photo shoot around the popular color this month using beautifully graphic vessels by the talented ceramicist Matthew Ward. (To see the complete portfolio of images go to the Florals section of my website.) Ward uses the color in a sparing and subtle way, carefully carving pink polka dots into his milky white bud vases. I used peonies, Japanese ranunculus, clematis, orchids amongst other flowers and a pink wall for a full-blown pink on pink effect.


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While making my floral still lifes, I began to think of the myriad of diverse artists ranging from Magritte to Lady Gaga, who are as enamored with the color as I am, and how the color inspired them to create works of art. But nothing can last forever, even though millennial pink is putting up a good fight, it will eventually code red and another color will rise from the color wheel and take its place. I wonder what that shade will be….


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Paying It Forward

Spring Cleaning came early this year for LMD. In the hopes of getting a jumpstart on being organized for 2017, my staff and I began taking stock of our inventory in January. LMD amasses a lot of ephemera. Every kind of wedding linen you can imagine, throw pillows and colorful blankets from a Coachella inspired Bat Mitzvah, even hundreds of Converse from a custom made sneaker chandelier.  Our storage space was busting at the seams with lampshades, moss covered pots and votives in every shape and color under the rainbow


 


In past years, we’ve organized fire sales inviting friends and some industry folk to drive over to our studio and fill their cars and vans with treasure. But with the current administration cutting funding to the Arts, we decided to donate LMD’s unwanted inventory to Materials for the Arts. It was my colleague Rebecca who found the organization and donating to MFTA was the best thing we could have done with our supplies and hard goods.


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Materials for the Arts collects unneeded items from businesses and individuals, and make these donations available for free to its recipients: nonprofit organizations with arts programming, government agencies, and public schools. It felt good to purge and declutter but my team and I had no idea that the do-good feeling was only just about to begin.

When someone donates to MFTA, you receive thank you letters from every organization that has taken your wares. It was very rewarding for the LMD staff and I to read about where our things landed and how the items were used. We received letters from The Lowell School, a not for profit coed special education school that has a visual arts and theater program, The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields conducts a Saturday evening performance art class for LGBTQA homeless teenagers, and Housing Works thanked us on behalf of their Adult Day Healthcare facility, serving clients who have HIV/AIDS. There were many other letters, varying from charter schools focused on special needs children to Senior programs in under resourced communities but the one thing they all have in common is a shoe string budget for Arts programming.  If you are able to donate to this amazing organization, I encourage you to do so, the timing couldn’t be more right.


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The MFTA warehouse is operated by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs with additional support from the City’s Departments of Sanitation and of Education.

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcla/mfta/html/home/home.shtml

Home for the Holidays

T’was the week before Christmas, when I had the LMD staff up to the country.  Bay leaf garlands and wreaths were hung by the mantels with care,  in hopes of ending the work year with some holiday cheer. It was the perfect day…

11:00 AM A balmy 19 degree day in Staatsburgh, New York.  The LMD crew arrived and we promptly made 4 warm fires, 3 indoors and a giant campfire blazing bright and hot.  There was new-fallen snow and the sun and warm flames from the fireplace gave everyones cheeks a beautiful glow.


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Tawana went straight to the kitchen and made us a hearty lunch of homemade meatballs in a red sauce with plenty of crusty bread.  Lizz began rolling out buttery dough and setting up colorful icing stations for a decorating cookie session, that was made extra special using her aunt’s vintage cookie cutters.  Rebecca, John and Felipe headed to the artists studio to hang colorful pinatas for some late night merriment.  There were lots of creatures stirring, but thankfully no mice!


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12:00 PM Fizzy champagne cocktails with a sugar cube laced in angostura bitters were lovingly made by Tawana and Mike and passed around as we all got into the Christmas decorating spirit.  It’s a lot of fun to dream up elaborately themes parties for my clients but at home, this Christmas was all about simplicity and the raw beauty of a wintery landscape.  We hung garland made out of magnolia leaves and jute rope, dotted several rooms with tons of paperwhites and clear lights.  Keeping things simple, chic and wild.  I cut down my own fir trees.  Potted and mulched them in giant pinecones and besides some clear twinkly lights, they were left almost as naked as the day they were grown.


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1:30 PM We ate, drank and decorated and then settled down for a long winter’s nap.  Rebecca dozed off on the coyote blanket, the men curled up next to a crackling fire and I fell asleep watching Charlie Brown Christmas.


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6:00 PM Taxis arrive and dashed us away to Gigi’s, a cozy Italian restaurant in Rhinebeck.  We relaxed, laughed and toasted to each other, to a great work year and to friendship.  Back home, we sipped a few Sazeracs in the library, by far the coziest room in the house and then found our way to the artist’s studio, by far the most raucous space on the property! Blindfolded and bundled up (there is no heat in the studio!) we all gave 2016 a good whack.  Pinatas filled with money, candy and souvenirs spilled out as we swung for the fences!  Watching everyone exorcise some stress provided endless entertainment into the wee hours of the night.


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12:30 AM Back in the main house, Madonna trumped Bing Crosby and a late night dance party sprang up in the main hallway.  At LMD we work hard and play hard and my children were not nestled all snug in their beds, they were too busy Vogueing the night away.  And that’s the way we like it…


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Christmas at the Crosby Street Hotel

LMD began decking the lobby, suites and every other nook and cranny of the Crosby Street Hotel in 2009, when it first opened its doors. This year marks its 8th anniversary and to celebrate the dog-friendly and dog-centric hotel, what better gift is there to give your two-legged and four-legged patrons than a 12-foot long cat!


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Crosby the Cat is the handiwork of Colombian Sculptor Fernando Botero. The bronze feline is plump and beautiful and sure to make friends with every guest that visits the SoHo hotspot. We began with 5-foot wreaths made of magnolia leaves that are mounted outside the hotel and perfectly frame Crosby’s cherubic silhouette. They are dotted with curled pieces of birch and oversized sugar pinecones. As visitors enter the hotel, they are met with a multi-tiered plant stand holding a variety of delicate lady slipper orchids in tall, glass-domed terrariums and colossal pinecones. A stunning display of contrasting texture and form.


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The Crosby Hotel’s roots are deeply embedded in all things British so LMD strove to create an over the top English Christmas tree but at the same time, we kept true to our love of natural elements. Using raw jute rope as garland and mixing bundles of cinnamon sticks and dried orange slices with organic owl ornaments, the end result is joyful and rustic. There are wicker baskets at the base of the tree filled with lichen branches and a clutch of presents wrapped in LMD’s signature wrapping paper! It’s these little details that make my staff one in a million. Instead of buying conventional wrapping paper, Tawana and Jess hand-painted differing textiles on to canvas to create unique prints, giving Santa’s little helpers some major competition.


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With every amaryllis, mini spruce tree and grape ivy that we carefully place in the hotel, it is always our intent to share the joy and spirit of the holiday season and not just with the visitors but also with the wonderful staff at the Crosby Hotel. They feel like family.


 

Tulipalooza

We held the first annual LMD retreat at my country house this week and I invited my staff to partake in the festivities.  We planted nearly 3000 tulips of all varieties, from Apricot Beauties to Zurel. I chose only tulips with very distinctive characteristics. Parrot tulips, fringed tulips, double tulips and a bounty of others with gorgeous contrasting streaks and color variations. There will be no “eggs on a stick” or boring single tulips to be found on the Camp LMD grounds!


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I am very fortunate to have a team that is hardworking and multi-talented. Tawana, our head designer is also a gifted cook. So as my production managers John and Eddie made a roaring camp fire, and Felipe, my other production manager, helped me organize the bulbs, Tawana headed straight to the kitchen to whip up a delicious lunch.


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Trenching and burying this many bulbs takes a handful of hours and works up a serious appetite. We settled into a feast of grilled rosemary shrimp and local pork sausages from the farmer’s market with Israeli tomato and orzo salads. We then headed to the artist’s studio to map out our next big event…beer pong! I have never played this ancient gaming ritual but thanks to my associate producer Lizz, my learning curve was swift and steep!


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When I first purchased this home, I could immediatley visualize where the pool would be, how I would layout each room of the main house but the artist’s studio was always a question mark. I didn’t know exactly what its purpose would be, it had a 10 foot long wooden table at the center of the main room and not much else, but as beer pong turned into flip cup and the space filled with loud, drunken laughter, I quickly realized it would be where all of our late night parties and louche happenings would occur. We work extremely hard at LMD so to witness my team play and interact together in such a carefree way was a lot of fun. The night ended with homemade family style lasagna and s’mores by the campfire. I couldn’t tell what was warming my heart more, the roaring fire or seeing all the smiling faces surrounding me.


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Flowers for the People

Gifting flowers to the people of New York City. It’s a simple idea that I have been knocking around in my brain for years. I love my job and what we do at LMD. We have created many lavish and memorable events for our wonderful clients that not only stay with them and their guests for years to come but have also left a smile and an impression on us over the years. We are in the business of fantasy and flowers; transforming key life moments in our client’s lives into magical, everlasting memories. My desire yesterday was to recreate just a sliver of that sentiment and offer it up to the city dwellers and tourists of this great city. So at 5:45 AM, my team and I filled the LMD van with 2,000 flowers and descended on the John Lennon Memorial in Central Park, a circular mosaic resembling a mandala with one word in the center: IMAGINE.


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Quickly working in the dark, my team and I created a psychedelic halo of day-glo yellow, pink, purple and orange dahlias and carnations. So bright and joyful, John and Yoko and every Seventies loving hippie would have approved. By the time the flower installation was complete, dawn had begun to take shape and the curious Parks & Services crew appeared. We all held our breath and wondered if our “Flowers for the People” project was about to live and die in under an hour and the only audience that would have seen it was a squirrel and two early morning joggers. But that was not the case. Outfitted with leaf blowers and a broom, they began to gingerly sweep away the falling leaves  around our flowers and gave us their approval and blessing with a quick thumbs up.


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As we were packing up and leaving the park, I was amazed at how quickly a crowd had formed. We had hoped for smiles, the ones that happen when you witness a random act of kindness. That was my goal, my vision. Create an emotional response through flowers. And in this age of social media, we saw the fruits of our labor and were instantly rewarded via Instagram! We got to see how our idea translated in real time with hundreds of selflies and photographs documenting the flowers throughout the course of the day. It was one of the most rewarding and gratifying “events” I have produced and I can not wait to plan the next one. Keep your eyes peeled New York, these flowers are for you….


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Sweet Decay

I recently bought a country home in Staatsburg, New York. Anyone who has bought a home knows the elation and fear that comes along with such a meaningful purchase. On my very first run this past winter after purchasing my house, I ran down Old Post Road and through a pair of magnificent gates, up a hill and into the grounds of the Ogden Mills Mansion. I was thrilled to discover this incredible stately home above me. It was the most exciting discovery and I remember clearly looking at this breathtaking mansion and feeling a sense of validation and contentment.

Looking at the Ogden Mills Mansion made me realize I had done the right thing in purchasing my country home and that I was right where I was supposed to be.

I had run the estate many times since that first serendipitous run but had yet to visit the interior. This past weekend, I  finally made it inside and was again over the moon to have found such a treasure in my own backyard. I certainly was not expecting the rooms to be fully furnished, complete with art and tapestries as they were. It really felt like I was immersed in Hudson Valley’s version of Downton Abbey. This particular style happens to be one of my most cherished aesthetics and one that I continue to draw inspiration from in my own work. I was lucky enough to gain access to all the private rooms that visitors do not have entry to and I was delighted to see the sweet decay of some of the interiors. With every turn, I could sense a house that was well-lived in and truly loved. Unlike the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, just 5 miles south on the Hudson which receives federal funding, the Ogden Mills Mansion is funded by the state and has an incredible amount of charm and personality. Rooms are filled with distressed silk furniture beautifully faded from years in the sunlight, paint and fabric peeling from the walls where gorgeous oil paintings and tapestries hang. In every way, I prefer the beautifully worn conditions of some of the interiors at the Mills mansion as compared to the Vanderbilt which is meticulously “done”. During my private tour at Ogden Mills, I could truly feel the life and love of a real home. I could easily imagine the house bustling with servants, guests and family in its heyday. Today, that same aura is present as the grounds and estate are being taken care of and conserved by friends and patrons who really cherish the mansion. I can not wait to become a patron and with any luck and persistence find a way to photograph my designs in this stunning location.

To learn more about Mrs. Ruth Ogden Mills and the Staatsburgh State Historic Site visit: http://millsmansion.org/visitor-information/

 

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Detroit Flower Week

I am excited to head to Motor City this week for Detroit Flower week to teach a 3 hour master class on Composition and Floral Arrangements. Here’s a sneak peak at what’s in store for you this Thursday.  I will be discussing vessels and how to choose the right container for your arrangement. I like opaque, unique vases and containers that have a ton of personality and that aren’t easily recognizable. I will also be demonstrating the importance of texture, shape, and movement. Every component of a flower arrangement should strengthen the overall composition and look of your still life.

This time of year is a gift to all floral enthusiasts. It’s Fall! So we are going to celebrate and focus on seasonal and locally farmed and foraged flowers, plant life and fruit.  We will be creating 5 different arrangements with one central urn overflowing with plum colored dahlias, chocolate sunflowers and chrysanthemum, all in season and in their full glory. The smaller companion arrangements will be filled with geranium leaf, serra cenia, gleaming persimmon, juicy apples and black peppers. Keeping in mind that the smaller arrangements are like a great supporting cast, their beauty and placement are just as crucial to the overall success of the composition as the larger central urn.

My work is predominately inspired by Dutch and Italian paintings. Sumptuous with a little grit thrown in. Moody, masculine, a little odd, robust and dark but always with a hint of optimism in the air. Kind of like how I imagine the spirit of Detroit to be.

Wild Beasts

Fauvism, the first twentieth century movement in modern art was originally spear headed by Van Gogh, Gaugin, Cezanne and Matisse. An art critic named the crazy lot of them The Fauves, which translates to “The Wild Beasts”, presumably because the paintings they were making during this time used intense and unorthodox color choices as a means to articulate light and space. They were also using these mind blowing color combinations, as a vehicle to communicate their emotional states.

What I love about Fauvist painters is their unapologetic and radical use of color. One of the major contributions to modern art was how Fauvist painters separated color from its descriptive, representational purpose and allowed it to exist on the canvas as an independent element. Color could evoke a mood, illicit a strong emotional response to nature in a totally new way because the colors chosen didn’t necessarily coincide with what we know to be true in the natural world. I love this masterful and playful way of treating color. I use it in my own work, choosing colors that one wouldn’t think go together or flipping seasons on their head and using elements found in nature in an unnatural way.

My master class at the Flower School of New York on Thursday October 5th is inspired by Fauvist Art. I will be using cactus dahlias, pom pom dahlias, dinner plate dahlias in shades of melon, saffron, flame and magenta. Paired with black basil, gnarled and glossy peppers and coleus foliage to add texture and contrast. I am excited for this class because the Fauvism principles were to conjure up an emotional response to nature and to, above all else, value and respect individual expression. Principles that I always keep in mind when working on my own arrangements.

Spring is nature’s way of saying, let’s party!

Most days you will find the LMD headquarters buzzing with clients and my creative team huddled around a vintage art book, stacks of floor plans or tripping over flower buckets, planning the next big party, wedding or corporate event. But on March 18th, the party we were throwing was our very own.

A festive get-together on the heels of the first day of Spring, to celebrate my first book titled: Styling Nature, A Masterful Approach to Floral Arrangements. Published by Rizzoli and available now on Amazon.com, the 191-paged codex includes a decade’s worth of my floral designs photographed by the talented Don Freeman. The stunning photography gives Styling Nature the look and feel of a gorgeous art tome, but it is also packed with descriptive and practical information that creative professionals and flower enthusiasts will appreciate. I have broken down all of the important themes in my work and shared my knowledge, experience and emotions with each one.

Truthfully, I was a little hesitant about throwing a party on my home turf. The LMD team and I have been fortunate and very busy this past year. Happily working at a frenetic pace, growing and expanding the business, but with this comes serious exhaustion! But I suppose no one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep, so we swept the floors and tidied up the space, sent out hand-crafted invites to all of our friends and flung our doors wide open.

Julia Child once said, “A party without cake is just a meeting”. Well, I think the same can be said about flowers.

Close friends and colleagues came together creating a beautifully relaxed atmosphere that reconfirms my belief that people love to party surrounded by flowers. Guests included jewelry designer Ted Meheling, Advanced Style darling Purely Patricia, Darcy Miller from Martha Stewart weddings, Ben Copperwheat and Garo Sparo. We filled the space with soaring blooming branches, clutches of anemones, passion flower vines and with the help of Olivier Cheng Catering created a decadent cocktail menu with each drink named after the chapters of the book: Color, Composition, Movement, Shape and Texture. It was naturally, a very stylish night and one for the books.

If you would like a signed copy of Styling Nature, A Masterful Approach to Floral Arrangements, please write to info@lewismillerdesign.com.

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