LT: How did you become interested in floral design and when did you start designing?
AK: I have come from a long line of artists, so my family has always appreciated beauty. I suppose I took on that characteristic at a young age, in my own way. In my early twenties, I considered event planning as a career, and soon realized that my focus always landed on the atmosphere of the events I saw, and less on the other details. Shortly thereafter, I began my first floral design job as an apprentice. In my eight years of experience, I have had the pleasure of coming across some fantastically talented and lovely designers. I took in everything I could to learn the basic mechanics involved, and then began experimenting to find the personal style I have today. In fact, my style is constantly evolving, there is so much exploration and experimentation in each piece that I complete. It excites me to find more wild and complex ways to present flowers everyday. I feel that if my job was only to put flowers in a vase, I would find myself less involved in the process. The “engineering” in my work keeps it fresh, fun, and adventurous.
LT: What inspires you to use natural materials to showcase your floral arrangements?
As I worked more intensely in the floral industry in my earlier years, I realized that there is very little out there for someone looking for more depth and sophistication in the floral design they purchase. I considered what I would want for my own special event, and began designing outside of what I had learned. I left vases behind, and began looking for other, more interesting “stages” for flowers. The options are limitless, and the finished product is more thoughtful and engaging when flowers are surrounded by unexpected organic elements. I also love to use various types of metal, wood, and even nails.
LT: What are some of your favorite flowers, both personally and to use in your designs?
AK: It always astounds me that I never tire of flowers. I can see the same varietal repeatedly, and still be enamored by its grace and perfection. I find myself drawn to bulb varieties–flowers like narcissus, and one of my personal favorites has always been the sweet pea. The ruffles and scent are so incredible. Bee balm, waratah, a more exotic whimsical flower, ranunculus with its many fabulous layers, aanemone, with a breathtaking black velvety center, and of course, lily of the valley. . .I could go on and on.
LT: How do you go about deciding on an arrangement for each client?
AK: My process is dramatically different from that of standard florists. I do not offer a sample after simply discussing vase and flower preferences. I work extensively to learn about the client’s personality, if they so desire, to ensure their personality shines through meticulously at their event. The sample or prototype I offer them is a process of approving or veto-ing ideas and concepts through each step to completion. Clients can participate as little or as much as they wish. This labor intensive process allows me to create the very best pieces possible for each individual event, and it is fun for the client! Standard florists spend about twenty to thirty minutes on an arrangement, I spend about two and a half hours per installation piece, as well as additional prototype design time. Because I like to think of myself as an artist who uses flowers as a medium, my clients tend to be people who enjoy this adventurous format/model, and appreciate the vast differences in my finished product. My clients tend to have an affinity for fine dining, travel, and art.
LT: How do linens play into your events?
AK: Proper linens are SO essential to make an event shine. I like to ask my clients immediately what their plans are for linens. The proper linens can pull a room together, highlight flowers on a table, draw your eye away from flooring that is not ideal in an otherwise fabulous event space, and create a festive or calm and serene space for any event.
LT: What are your favorite La Tavola linens?
AK: I am typically drawn to white, creme and perhaps gray linens because those shades are a great backdrop for flowers and really make a room appear spacious and airy. I love nuovo gray, peony ivory, windsor ivory, hemp flour, hem stitched ivory and tuscany white. They are a beautiful and necessary addition to any high end event!