The List’s Project Spotlight column features unparalleled projects created by our forward-thinking List members. By going straight to the source—and having the designers demystify the methods behind their own designs—we hope to enlighten and inspire our creative audience to further push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of design.
Heather Frye and Camille Rowan-White of Venn Floral are not your average florists. Drawing inspiration from their Northern California surroundings, the duo’s Venn Floral is a testament to the benefits of a thoughtful and sustainable creative process. Recently, with their photographer friend Collin Morrow, Heather and Camille set out to document their “ideal day in the life“—which included foraging, curating, and table-scaping, among other delights. Surface spoke with Heather and Camille about their favorite flowers, friends, and collaborators, and the art of crafting arrangements.
When you start out foraging, what exactly is it that you’re looking for?
We look for things that have a particular line quality, a rare color tone, or structural intent in our arrangements. Some things are planned for, others surprise us. Certain things we find unexpectedly often become the inspiration for later projects and/or the end product.
Take me through the process of this particular day. What was the specific objective? Did you start with an idea or vibe and curate accordingly, or do you get inspired in the moment based on what you find?
This day was planned as an opportunity to reconnect with our process and document it so that we can share our work-style and inspiration sources with clients. Our number one criterion for this project was to use local and seasonal materials, much of which we harvested ourselves. Second to that, we wanted to be open to experimentation and not put too many restraints on the end products. We worked with more colors, textures, and combinations of materials that we wanted to share in particular with clients in future planning. We gathered what spoke to us and spontaneously curated different sets of designs and color schemes based on the materials at hand.
When putting together a bouquet or arrangement, are there certain do’s or don’ts you have in mind to guide you?
We try not to limit ourselves in curating materials or designs by having a set of rules we work from. As we are most often inspired by a combination of our clients’ stories and the season and environment their event takes place, every approach can be wildly different. Allowing room for experimentation and spontaneity means our work is more art practice than classic florist labor.
Fall: Heirloom Mums, Lunaria, Flannel Flower, Fruit Branches
How does your process, as seen on this particular day, ground you?
This particular morning mirrors so many of those that we spend throughout our event season harvesting and gathering materials for our design work. This morning served as an extended reminder of what makes a lot of our work feel special to us and our clients. There is often a meditative quality on these mornings that allow us both time for quiet reflection, as well as space for inspiration to surface.
How do you choose harvesting sites, and does that ultimately have an effect on the final product?
Many of our foraging sites exist on the properties of folks we know, and are located in a variety of micro-climates and landscapes. We keep a close watch on materials throughout the season, and plan for things like the perfect aging fern, ripening plums, or budding dogwood blossoms. Permission from landowners, respect, and safety are important considerations when foraging, as well as the health of the plants and gardens we’re utilizing.
What is your ideal day in the life?
Greeting the dawn, spending the morning outside harvesting, having creative freedom to let our materials and environment dictate our designs, and definitely having room for a long lunch break with good food and wine.
Speak to the vessels that held the arrangements—made by your friend—and what, if any, influence that has over the arrangements as a whole.
The ceramic vessels we used were made by our friend Nedda Atassi. We collaborated on designing this specific set of vases with her to perfectly fit the types of floral designs we specialize in. The weight, color and texture, and handmade quality of Nedda’s vases are important factors, and these are our absolute favorite vessels to use for all occasions.