T Black Book: Florists – The New York Times

There is, arguably, never a bad time to send flowers. But in a year marked by both isolation and turmoil, a delivery of blooms, a gift that also helps support financially hard-hit small businesses, feels especially poignant. And so for the first in our new series of Black Book guides, we’ve created a directory of the most imaginative and masterful florists working today in six major cities. These 22 designers make arrangements that are often wildly different in style, ranging from understated bouquets to experimental showpieces, and we’ve tried to offer a range of “classic,” “earthy” and “unusual” options in each place. But if these florists’ aesthetics are diverse — informed by everything from old master paintings to modern dance — they all bring a singular vision to the centuries-old art they practice. Many are also united in rejecting the methods of the contemporary globalized flower trade, in which blooms are cut sometimes months before they’re sold, sprayed with toxic preservatives and then shipped great distances at great environmental cost. Some are instead championing local growers and avoiding harmful substances like flower foam, while others are even cultivating their own flowers or privileging historically overlooked materials such as seedpods, roots and weeds. At the bottom of this article you’ll find a downloadable guide with delivery information that we hope will serve as a useful, and much turned to, resource.

Earthy | $ | oliveefloral.com | 🌱

Karla Smith-Brown was inspired to open her floral business in 2018 after visiting her family’s native Jamaica. She relished, in particular, the verdant landscapes of Saint Elizabeth Parish, in the southwest of the country, which was once home to her beloved great-grandmother, after whom Smith-Brown named her company. “Olivee’s wild, unyielding natural style is a direct reflection of the region’s lush, bountiful land and the resilience of its people,” she says. Using botanical materials both locally foraged and sourced from the New York flower market, she composes richly textured bouquets in shades that reflect the seasons: for fall, she’s favoring deep burgundy chocolate cosmos, burnt orange marigolds and crimson cockscomb. And she strives to make her practice as eco-friendly as possible, using only recyclable materials and exploring collaborations with artists who can repurpose flower waste to create natural dyes.

Classic | $$ | buunch.com

The designers Caroline Bailly and Takaya Sato founded Buunch in 2019 as a floral delivery service to complement Bailly’s hospitality-focused flower studio L’Atelier Rouge. And they designed the business with simplicity in mind: Customers can either choose from a range of joyful color-coordinated bouquets, for example in vibrant yellow (which might include blooms such as strawflowers and craspedia) or dark purple (black summer allium and mini anthuriums) — or sign up for a weekly subscription. The arrangements come in vessels, among them vases by the design studios Broste and Raawii, in hues that match their blossoms. Sato trained in the classical principles of ikebana in Japan, while Bailly, who was born in France, studied at Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, and the pair’s designs, she says, “are a combination of the Japanese philosophy of arranging flowers and French elegance.”

Earthy | $$ | emilythompsonflowers.com | 🌱

Emily Thompson is known for her poetic, rambling installations — she has filled the dining rooms at the famed New York restaurants the Grill and the Pool with epic tangles of branches and vines — but she also creates smaller-scale, painterly arrangements that take their inspiration from natural landscapes and art history. “I seek pairings of materials that tell stories of the season,” she says, which for fall might mean fragrant dill flowers and fruiting branches of crab apple and quince. Thompson sees the work of her studio, founded in 2006, as a necessary counterpoint to the bustle of the city. “New York needs the untamed wilds,” she says. “The concrete and the din of industry are crying out for the raw magic of something beyond commerce.”

Unusual | $$$ | metafloranyc.com

As a former professional dancer, the designer Marisa Competello brings a flair for line and form, as well as a fluid sense of movement, to her floral works. Since founding Metaflora in 2015, she has become celebrated for her modern, sculptural arrangements, each a study in poise and dynamism. Thanks to her keen eye and deft hand, twisting stems of blue allium and pink tulips appear as though they are snaking out of a black ceramic vessel; golden mimosa flowers and oncidiums burst forth from a modernist vase; and willowy foxtail lilies stand elegantly with their green-gold spires posed in midair like sinuous limbs. “My designs are typically minimal,” she says, “so I tend to make intuitive choices and not overthink it.”

Classic | $$ | biablooms.com

Tabia Yapp began experimenting with floral design as a creative side project — she also runs the talent agency Beotis, which represents artists, illustrators and writers of color — but after receiving an enthusiastic response from her friends and social media followers, she launched her own studio, Bia Blooms, in May. Since then, she has become highly sought after for her exuberant, color-saturated compositions. Each month, she creates a limited number of bouquets — which are available for preorder and sell out quickly — favoring mixes of dahlias, ranunculus, anthuriums and amaranth in radiant shades of blush, peach, coral and aubergine. “I like to create arrangements that have personality and explore color, levels and space,” says Yapp, who sources her blooms mostly from local markets and suppliers such as Flowers Without Borders. She has also aligned her floral practice with social justice causes, organizing fund-raisers for nonprofits such as the Downtown Women’s Center of Los Angeles and Black Youth Project 100.

Unusual | $$ | isafloral.com | 🌱

“I’m inspired by both the landscapes of Los Angeles, with their mix of tropical, ocean and desert terrains, and the immense spaces of Argentina I grew up around,” says Sophia Moreno-Bunge of the floral design studio Isa Isa. She conjures those untamed wildernesses with her free-spirited bouquets, composed partly of plants that she grows in her Santa Monica garden and forages in the nearby hills. Moreno-Bunge’s arrangements go beyond being merely pretty — they can be seductive, primordial and even alien. Roadside weeds like wild mustard and Queen Anne’s lace, tendrils of palm inflorescence and carnivorous cobra lilies have all found a place in her work. And for Moreno-Bunge, who founded Isa Isa in 2015 after apprenticing with Emily Thompson, sustainability is key. The studio composts, eschews floral foam and sources many of its bought flowers from local growers.

Unusual | $$$ | brrch.com | 🌱

Since 2013, Brittany Asch has been creating decadent, escapist floral fantasies — first from her studio on New York’s Lower East Side and now from Los Angeles — for editorial and music-world clients. Her signature showy, ’80s-inflected style is a blend of the wild and the artificial — feathery pampas grass tinted shades of acid lime and cotton candy pink, lacquered-looking anthuriums, bronze-painted sago palm leaves and powdery-hued orchids. She describes it as “utopian, theatrical, spirited and fervid.” Recently, Asch has been incorporating local herbals with healing and aromatherapeutic properties, such as flowering basil and ashwagandha roots, into her exotic compositions. “I like our arrangements to look and feel like presents,” she says.

Earthy | $$$ | yasminefloraldesign.com | 🌱

Yasmine Khatib is a self-professed die-hard Californian, and her romantic arrangements make full use of the bounty the state has to offer. “It’s hard not to be captivated by all that grows here, from citrus and loquats to jacaranda, mallow, elderberry and California poppy,” she says. Since opening her studio in 2012, she’s become known for her unexpected juxtapositions — a burst of white poppies alongside clusters of enoki mushrooms, for example, or wispy puffs of clematis seed pods with strands of champagne currants. Khatib sources many of her flowers, fruits and vegetables from local farms and even cuts stems from her parents’ garden in Orange County.

Classic | $ | flowerbx.com | 🌱

After more than two decades of working in various roles for Tom Ford, Whitney Bromberg Hawkings decided to pursue her passion for flowers full-time in 2015, launching Flowerbx, an online shop focused on delivering freshly cut stems directly to consumers. The brand specializes in classic, single-variety bouquets of exceptional beauty, and its best-sellers include elegant bunches of snapdragons, roses and hydrangeas — “the simplicity and quality of a single-stem bunch makes it hard to go wrong,” says Hawkings. The company currently ships to cities in more than 20 countries across Europe, the U.K. and parts of the U.S. Blooms are sourced straight from sustainable growers worldwide, and stems are cut to order, which drastically reduces the waste associated with traditional industry practices and ensures the most vibrant flowers. The brand also composts its organic waste and will soon offer fully biodegradable packaging.

Classic | $ | wildatheart.com | 🌱

Nikki Tibbles describes her arrangements as “quintessentially English, with a generosity of spirit,” an ethos that has informed her entire two-decades-old practice. She looks most frequently to the English countryside — famous for its garden roses, sweet jasmine, foxgloves, lupins, delphiniums and hydrangeas — for inspiration for her dense, bounteous creations. “My bouquet is complete when I can’t add a single more flower, when it’s wild, full and groaning with flowers,” she says of her approach. She sources as many of her blooms from U.K. growers as possible and is mindful of waste: Flowers left over from events are donated to Floral Angels, an organization that styles them into bouquets for hospices, care homes and shelters.

Unusual | $$ | fjura.com | 🌱

With an instinctive and spontaneous approach, Simone Gooch creates minimalist arrangements with a romantic, slightly undone quality. Her Notting Hill-based studio, Fjura, which she founded in 2005 in Sydney, Australia, and transplanted to London in 2015, produces head-turning floral showpieces for clients such as Gucci, Hermès and Chanel, as well as made-to-order bouquets for delivery. Gooch favors seasonal blossoms sourced from both private suppliers and local markets such as New Covent Garden Market, and from these builds lush, often single-variety-dominated bunches of ruffled sweet peas, blush-hued panicled hydrangeas, creamy white peonies or whatever captivates her on a given day. “My objective,” she says, “is to arrange flowers to showcase their beauty without it looking like a human has been involved.”

Earthy | $$ | thetuktuk.net | 🌱

Silka Rittson-Thomas’s career in floral design began as a hobby — she started growing flowers in 2015, while working as a contemporary art curator. Since formally opening her studio later that year, she has focused on producing installations for museums and galleries, along with fantastical custom creations. Her aesthetic, which she describes as “minimalist maximalism,” is informed by everything from English botanical gardens to classical mythology and the seasonal flora of London — Siberian bellflower in late spring, magnolia and dogwood in summer. “We like looking at arrangements as landscapes,” she says of her team. Many of the blossoms they use (including rare tulips, camellias, sweet peas and edelweiss) are grown in Rittson-Thomas’s own garden in the Cotswolds, but the studio will often incorporate wilder elements such as grasses, brambles and elderflowers, too.

Unusual | $ | debeaulieu-paris.com

When Pierre Banchereau opened Debeaulieu in 2013, in a small storefront in the Ninth Arrondissement, he wanted to loosen up the world of traditional French floral design, which he found to be staid and predictable. Banchereau’s work ranges from minimal (a simple column of white tulips in a wooden vessel) to exuberant (unruly tumbles of mimosa, roses, carnations and thistles spilling from an antique urn). While he is deeply influenced by French history and 17th-century Flemish and Dutch masters, Banchereau’s approach is modern, spontaneous and intuitive. “It’s like creating a painting,” he says. “The construction is progressive and rarely resembles the original idea. This is what’s magical.” From March to September, Debeaulieu’s flowers are sourced from local growers in Paris and the South of France, and the shop offers a range of vintage vases, collected by Banchereau himself, to pair with each bouquet.

Classic | $ | maisonlachaume.com

Founded in 1845, Lachaume is the grande dame of Parisian floristry. Opened by Jules Lachaume, it famously supplied Marcel Proust with the single cattleya orchid he wore in his boutonniere each day, and later became the florist of choice for designers including Christian Dior, who presented his first couture collection in 1947 against a backdrop of flowers from the studio. In 1970, Giuseppina Callegari took over the business, maintaining its legacy until passing it on to her granddaughters, Caroline Cnocquaert and Stéphanie Primet. Today the sisters, who grew up playing in the shop, continue Lachaume’s tradition of “elegant Parisian fashion bouquets,” as Cnocquaert describes them. At the studio’s Faubourg Saint-Honoré location, customers will find generous single-stem arrangements or mixes of unabashedly romantic floral varieties: garden and tea roses, carnations, camellias, orchids and blushing brides. Lachaume’s online shop also offers gifts such as boxed flowers and wreaths.

Unusual | $ | pampa.co | 🌱

At Pampa, Emmanuelle Magnan and Noélie Balez have developed an immediately recognizable style that marries an emphasis on naturalistic foliage with a graphic sensibility. In addition to fulfilling custom orders, they offer a single fresh arrangement each week, available in three sizes, consisting of a lively mix of blooms such as sunflowers, delphiniums, dahlias, agapanthus and scabious. Their dried bouquets, meanwhile, often feature stalks of wheat grain, reeds and the atelier’s trademark pampas grasses dyed in Dr. Seuss-like shades of electric blue, violet and pink. “Our style is very wild and lush,” says Magnan, “but also very urban.” The studio, founded in 2016, is conscious of its environmental impact, composting its green waste and making deliveries exclusively by bicycle.

Earthy | $$ | castor-fleuriste.com

Louis-Géraud Castor set aside a 15-year career as an art dealer to open Castor Fleuriste, his minimalist flower shop in the Third Arrondissement, in 2017. Now he brings his well-trained eye to his bouquets, favoring simple arrangements that celebrate the sculptural and pictorial qualities of each plant. His compositions might consist of a single branch with a cluster of moss green dwarf chestnuts, or loose stems of pale water lilies or a spray of feathery foxtail barley. “I like abstraction, color for color’s sake and things that are archaic and primitive,” Castor says. His flowers are sourced according to what’s in season from growers in Île-de-France, and the studio also sells a line of pitcher-like vases that Castor developed with the acclaimed Parisian ceramist Atelier Jean Roger to complement the purity of the blooms.

Classic | $ | lafioreriacuccagna.info | 🌱

Situated inside Cascina Cuccagna, an 18th-century farm complex near the center of Milan, La Fioreria is a charming Old World shop and studio where visitors can buy bouquets but also attend workshops in everything from ikebana to frame-loom weaving. Trained in landscape architecture, the designer Irene Cuzzanti opened the store in 2015, envisioning it as a cultural and community space that brings people together. As an advocate of the slow-flower movement, she prioritizes local sources, growing some of her own blooms on-site and foraging for others near Lake Como. In her arrangements, Cuzzanti favors a light touch, creating airy bouquets that often pair beloved blossoms like roses, oleanders and gladiolus with more surprising elements such as artichokes and dried stems. “Composing with flowers is an impulsive gesture for me — the less premeditated the better,” she says. “A bouquet is finished when it brings you to smile.”

Unusual | $ | potafiori.com | 🌱

At Potafiori, a restaurant, cocktail bar and flower shop near the Fondazione Prada, Rosalba Piccinni marries her love of botanical design with her passion for entertaining and hospitality. Affectionately called the Cantafiorista” (or “singing florist”), Piccinni welcomes guests with fresh pasta, live music and riotous displays of blooms, sourced both locally and from abroad. The designer brings a similar sense of drama to the bouquets she sells. Her expressive arrangements — which contain striking elements such as king proteas, lotus leaves, purple amaranth flowers and ornamental pincushions — can be delivered along with a live serenade by Piccinni herself. “I love to create a sense of wonder,” she says.

Earthy | $ | 011-32-91-950-968

The floral designer Sachiko Ito is a beloved presence on the streets of Milan, where she can often be seen cycling with a large basket brimming with flowers. Since moving there in 2007 from Kyoto — where she began her career as a floral stylist — she has steadily built a following for her vibrant compositions through word of mouth, becoming a favorite among the city’s fashion houses. Her arrangements, which she describes as “fresh, harmonic and playful,” are inspired by the seasons: anemones and forget-me-nots in the spring, chamomile and sunflowers in summer, and red fruits and autumn-colored hydrangeas in the fall. She sources flowers from local markets, her garden and the wild, and often delivers orders herself on her trademark bicycle. About her technique, she is characteristically modest: “First, arrange the flowers. Then bundle them. When you think it’s beautiful, you’re done.”

Unusual | $ | edenworks.jp/en | 🌱

Megumi Shinozaki grew up surrounded by flowers: Her mother kept a garden full of roses, hydrangeas and jasmine, often drying blossoms to extend their lives. Today, Shinozaki brings that ecologically minded ethos to Edenworks, her multistore floral concept project, where she experiments with blooms in various forms. Her original shop, Edenworks Bedroom, opened in Yoyogi-Uehara in 2015, is styled as a spare, minimalist sleeping chamber and sells joyous bouquets — diverse combinations of flowers including Mexican stars, cosmos and anthuriums — arranged according to wabi-sabi principles. In 2017, she launched EW.Pharmacy, which offers dried bunches made from unsold fresh stems, as well as flowers preserved in decorative elements such as bottles and bell jars. Plant by Edenworks — a laboratory-slash-studio where clients can bring fresh flowers to be custom-dried — soon followed. And Shinozaki also creates a range of paper flowers, called Paper Eden. “I want to expand the possibilities of flowers,” she says, “in a sustainable manner.”

Classic | $$$ | illony.com/en

Jardin du I’llony, a two-decade-old studio with locations in Tokyo, Ashiya and Paris, specializes in traditional arrangements that its founder, Atsushi Taniguchi, describes as celebrating the Japanese ikebana style of nageire (which emphasizes spontaneous, loosely thrown together flowers) and the French bouquet champêtre (roughly, a pastoral bouquet). “I try to reflect the natural beauty and feeling of flowers,” he says, “focusing on their sensual nuance and the balance of nature.” Taniguchi’s rustic, romantic hand-tied creations — whether a simple clutch of lilies of the valley, a tangle of roses or a knot of violets — have the effortless feel of wildflowers gathered on a countryside walk, and have won him devoted clients, including Hermès and Cartier.

Unusual | $$$ | jardinsdesfleurs.com

The experimental designer Makoto Azuma sees flowers not as decorative objects but as an ephemeral, live art form. Since co-founding the studio Jardin des Fleurs in 2002 with the photographer Shunsuke Shiinoki, he has produced imaginative spectacles that explore the poetic and temporal qualities of botanical materials: He has frozen bouquets in blocks of ice and dispatched a Japanese white pine bonsai into the stratosphere on a helium balloon. His custom bouquets are equally high-impact: Each month he offers an arrangement that pairs traditional blossoms (such as dahlias, calla lilies and amaryllis) with more unexpected varieties (cones of beehive ginger, trumpet pitchers, sky plants). A former musician, Azuma likens arranging to a “session,” in which plants are his instruments. “I try to listen to each flower’s voice,” he says, “and bring out its hidden potential.”

$ Bouquets starting at $75 or less

$$ Bouquets starting between $75 and $150

$$$ Bouquets starting at $150

🌱 Denotes studios with a particular focus on environmentally friendly and sustainable practices.

Additional reporting by Zio Baritaux. Illustrations by Sofía Probert.

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