Q&A: What is your style and where do you find your inspiration?

As a floral designer, I spend a lot of my day talking... to clients, vendors, farmers, venue owners, and even my friends and family who think all I do is play with beautiful flowers. Along the way, I get asked a lot of questions and thought this would be a great place to address some of the more common ones from time to time. 
One that comes up often is about my design style and where I find my inspiration. More than anything, I think my style is driven by my curious nature; I'm always looking, listening, touching, and learning. In this sense, my style is always evolving with inspiration coming from almost everywhere, including:

Culture: I draw from both my Chinese heritage and my American experience. Garden design has a long history in my culture, and many of our classic artists and poets have focused on flowers in their work. However, it was the classic western styles that I studied for floral arranging, including the Dutch the British who did so much to influence the art - and I consider their styles a foundation for my work.


Trends: While the past is important, fashion and design trends keep me looking forward. I turn to the runway for ideas on shapes, color combinations, and bold statements, while also considering how trends evolve and finding those who are pushing the envelope. Similarly, trends in architecture or home goods can inspire me. For our home, we turned to Scandinavian design principles of minimalism, light, and the elimination of the lines between outside and indoors. These concepts can fuel new ideas when I'm working on a floral installation or designing an event.


The Macro Lens: As a photographer, I learned to look closer at flowers. As I zoomed in, I began to see another world, with almost perfect geometric designs, colors, and textures that can be so easy to miss. I almost felt like they were speaking to me as I connected with individual blooms. I think about this when I'm arranging, making sure the florals and even the greenery I'm using are all adding something special to the final piece, while working in harmony with each other.


My Surroundings: I'm inspired by walking around our property at Athabold and exploring the farms and natural beauty of the Hudson Valley region. Seeing wild blooms or strolling a flower field has done much to drive my preference for a natural style. Similarly, I love exploring flower markets and shops to get ideas when I'm in New York City or when traveling to places like Paris, Nice, Lisbon, Beijing, and even Stockholm. 


You: Lastly, much of the final design is driven by the discussions I have with my clients. My favorite part of the work is applying my ideas to create something that is unique to you. Whether it's a wedding, a gift, or a design for your home, I want every arrangement to fit each individual's tastes and style, captured in my own unique way. 

Q&AShuheng JiComment