An Interview with Big Apple Florist Professional Floral Designer Brianne Knarr
Great flower shops require top floral designers. At Big Apple Florist, it is not just about the flowers themselves, but about how the flowers can be personalized for the individuals needs. Here we interview Brianne Knarr, one of the top floral designers at Big Apple Florist in NYC, to find out how she makes unique and imaginative floral arrangements.
1) How did you become a professional floral designer?
Originally I was hired at Big Apple Florist to, help coordinate special events, meet with our clients, AND as a floral designer to pull each event together. After a few months, the professional floral designer I worked directly with married and moved out-of-state, so I took more of a hands-on role when it came to the design aspect, in addition to handling the logistics of each event. So although I wasn’t hired as a floral designer, with many months of observing and practicing, I learned to be a REAL floral designer!
2) How long have you been arranging flowers for Big Apple Florist?
3) How do you meet the needs of so many clients and still offer unique floral design arrangements?
Personally, I think that’s the best part. With every new client comes a new personality which is basically the inspiration behind each professional floral arrangement. Not to mention that with all the different varieties and colors available, the mixing and matching is endless… So no matter what your personality we can always find something or some combination that is unique to you.
4) What are some of your favorite top floral design creations?
I can’t say that I have one favorite creation, but I personally like to incorporate different shapes and textures into my floral arrangements. I’m big on contrast, like making a really lush, soft arrangement in a birch-wrapped vase, which has more of a rough surface. Another example would be using curly willow branches, which are very wire-y, with calla lilies whose stems have more of a defined-line to them. I think accenting with some contrast creates more of a focus without a customer really noticing, so it’s subtle and not shocking.
5) Can you talk about professional floral design in terms of art: line, balance, color, structure and symbolism?
I must say before I started working here I only knew floral arrangements as what you might see on the Teleflora or 1-800-Flowers website. Now I see flowers in a totally different light and never quite expected them to be such a great medium for design/sculpture. All flowers have different stems and different heads, which makes them great to work with for both line, balance and structure. When thinking of a flower, most people only think of the head and the petals, etc., but totally disregard the stem. When working with flower designs structurally, sometimes the stems are the most important part. The lines and curves you can create with a stem leading your eye to a colorful explosion, can really be quite refreshing. And it’s the feelings that these floral arrangements create with their shapes and colors that reflect their symbolism. Flowers mean different things to different people, whether it’s representing a special occasion or helping to create an atmosphere or mood in one’s home. So whatever the need, flowers can always represent what you’re trying to express.
6) How does living in the big apple affect your professional floral designs and arrangements?
I think being in the “Big Apple” definitely keeps us ahead of the curve. I think typically our arrangements are more modern in style, although they don’t have to be depending on a customer’s needs. But I do think the clientele we work with forces us to keep on our toes and continually research and experiment with new professional floral designs. We also have a great flower market that has some great connections in terms of buying and designing.
7) Can you give us a typical run-down of your floral arranging day?
Because of the volume of our business, it’s hard to have a “typical” day, but that’s what keeps it interesting. The short-version: I make floral arrangements and order the flowers we need from our many vendors. The long version: I could leave work one night thinking I know exactly what tomorrow will bring, but I can never really be sure. It’s a fast-paced environment where same-day parties pop-up out-of-the-blue and before you know it you’re day has changed, the schedule has been re-arranged, etc., etc. One day it’s one person’s birthday, the next is 25 people’s birthdays. But I can say I leave here everyday thinking I’ve done a hard day’s work, and even if it wasn’t so hard, that I’ve earned that day of relaxation!
8) What tricks do you use in your professional floral designs and arrangements?
I don’t really know if I would call it a “trick”, but we use accents of leaves and grass in our arrangements. We curl them and either use some green tape or a staple to hold the curl. The tape, because it’s green, and the staple, because it’s so small, is usually camouflaged or hidden, so people have no idea how the leaves “grow” like that. They are pretty surprised to learn its tape or a staple… pretty funny… We definitely get a little artsy-craftsy with our floral arranging here!
9) Are there any flowers in particular that you wish you could get your hands on more often?
Personally, green helleborus… it’s my favorite! I wish it were available all year-long, but unfortunately it’s only in-season during the late Winter and early Spring. For work’s sake, peonies! Customers are always calling asking for peonies, but their availability is limited to late Spring/early Summer… but once in a while we can get a freak-shipment from New Zealand during the winter, so it’s always good to inquire I guess.
10) Do you sketch out your professional floral designs prior to creating the arrangements themselves?
Not usually. I’m a pretty visual person, so if I can imagine it in my head I can usually just turn it over into its concrete state. Sketching is however very useful when trying to translate your ideas for a client, or for anyone who might not be able to envision the image your words are meant to create. Although my sketching isn’t so wonderful, it has definitely helped get the idea across once or twice.
11) Where do you draw your inspiration from?
My inspiration usually comes from one thing, whether it’s the vase or a particular flower or branch. But I usually start with one item and work around that.
12) How do you convey the beauty of your professional floral designs when photographing arrangements?
Definitely by color. I think color is the first thing people notice about flowers… a conclusion I’ve come up with based on our customers and clients. When most of them call or come in to order or talk about a party, wedding, etc., they always come with a color-palette. So when I know a piece is going to be photographed, I usually arrange so that the flowers are complimentary to one another and not too harsh in their contrast. I also try not to cluster so many flowers or types of flowers together, giving each flower or type of flower the room to be appreciated and noticed.
13) Can you give us some insight into what new and exciting floral designs we might see from you in the near future?
Hhhmmm… I’d probably prefer to keep that a secret, but with Spring approaching there’s a broad variety of flowers and colors heading our way. I would say taking a look at our Spring and Summer Floral Collections in our New York City Florist Shop, is the best answer to that question!