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June 24th 2015

The Farmer & the {Florist} Interview: Flower House

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Floret

1432772402669For the latest installment of the Farmer and the {Florist} interview series, I’ve invited Lisa Waud, the floral designer and brainchild behind the Flower House project in Detroit to tell us more about this incredibly cool endeavor.

If you haven’t yet heard about Flower House, then I invite you to pull up a chair (because you definitely need to be sitting down) and check out this little video clip.  It is hauntingly beautiful, poetic, nostalgic, and without spoiling it any more, you just have to see it:

Erin: First off, Lisa, can I just say:  Wow!  What a stunning video and what an innovative and fascinating, phenomenal project: creating a totally unique living floral art installation in an abandoned house as it’s last “hurrah” before having it deconstructed and repurposed and then converting the plot into an urban flower farm.  Wow! There are so many interesting angles and elements to Flower House.  I love how it weaves together the concepts of collaboration, art, creating beauty where there is blight, rebirth and of course flowers.  Tell me more about your goals for the project and how it all came together.

Lisa: Well, Erin, let me start off by saying thanks! It’s your enthusiasm and encouragement, and that of other florists and flower-lovers, that really fuel my fire for this immense project. I love it for all the reasons you do; it’s really the project of my lifetime.

I trace the idea back to a love of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s projects–wrapping a Paris bridge in gold fabric, the orange gates in Central Park, the pink islands in Florida–with their enormity of scale and temporary exhibition. They stirred something in me, but I didn’t know how I could channel my fascination until I saw images of the 2012 Dior show with walls blooming solid with flowers. I knew immediately I had to create something similar that I could explore with all my senses.

It took one more epiphany for me to connect an abundant resource we have here in Detroit (abandoned homes) with my vision, and before too long, I was at a city auction with my hand raised, “250 dollars? Going once, going twice, sold.”

FHDET0003Erin: From the looks of the gorgeous photos you’ve shared, the recent preview event was no small endeavor either, right?

Lisa: Those few days in May were some of my favorites of my creative career. What could be a better day than all my florist friends, new and old, to fill a beautifully patinaed old house with 4,000 stems of flowers and foliage? We slept very little, ate lots of pizza, and made some remarkable floral displays.

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1432772037283As event designers, it was incredibly liberating (and a little awkward at first, to be honest) to be faced with a completely new canvas. For months, I had explained that we would be “filling the walls, ceilings, and even some floors with fresh flowers and living plants,” but it wasn’t until I was staring at those walls with those flowers in hand that it clicked.

Erin: I want to know ALL about the flowers you’ll be using for the project—tell me more.   

Lisa: The flowers that will fill the house will be all American-grown…doesn’t that just make your heart grow three sizes?

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1432771985880Every room in October’s exhibition house will be designed by a florist or florist team, each with a installation team to make their visions happen. Each designer will build a wish list that will be sent off to our generous floral sponsors, Mayesh, Nordlie, and California Cut Flower Commission. As with May’s preview event, they’ll work their magic and those beautiful blooms will arrive for us to staple, pick, and chicken-wire them up into the architecture of the house. As well as the project being dedicated to all American-grown flowers and plants, we have chosen to exclude floral foam from our designs. You should see the creativity in the mechanics behind those beautiful blooms!

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FHDET0025While I won’t spill any spoilers for room ideas I’ve heard from the designers, I’ll tell you a few daydreams I’ve had. The first real vision I had was a room overflowing with blue flowers, because of the gorgeous video that Hello Future Films made for our fundraiser. (If you watched it, you’re probably still teary-eyed. It’s so moving?) In it, part of the poem that they wrote from interviews with the team says “I’m going to fill this house with flowers blue.” I can’t get the idea out of my head.

I also like the modern look of a billion of one kind of flower affixed to every surface, like the tulip wall I did for the preview installation. It would be like wallpaper, but the pattern is real life.

But my favorite flower house fantasy is a room’s surfaces filled with all the discarded stems, petals, and leaves. Detritus decor. Think of the textures!

Erin: I understand you’ve got an A-list line-up of great floral designers involved.  Who has signed on?

Lisa: Firstly, one of the major forces behind making Flower House a reality is our photographer and media coordinator, Heather Saunders. We’ve made her an honorary florist because she is JUST that tough!

1432772309250The local floral designers that are steering the project and designing rooms are Sue McLeary of Passionflower, Liz Andre-Stotz from Parsonage Events, Holly Rutt from Sweet Pea Floral Design, and Jody Costello of J. Costello Designs. Florists that participated in the May preview and will be designing rooms in October are Lia Colapietro, Kelli Galloway, Martha DeFlorio, Janet Martineau, Isha Foss, Jamie Platte, Katherine Yates, Sara Conklin, and Jennifer Haf & Larissa Flynn. Joining us for October will be Francoise Weeks, as well as NYC designers Denise Fasanello and Anne Kilcullen.  We’ve also fielded inquiries from a number of other designers and we’re still processing applications to design available rooms. (For any readers also interested, please get a hold of us! We’ll make decisions soon.)

Of course, we’d be thrilled if you were able to sneak away from the farm for a quick room install, Erin. Why don’t you come on over with a few (or whole cooler truck full?) of your spectacular dahlias?

Erin:  Oooooooh man, that sounds like so much fun!  I see that you are raising funds in order to deconstruct the dilapidated building currently on the site and make way for a flower farm, which is so exciting. I love seeing so many new urban and small space flower farms popping up all over the country.  What are your plans for producing flowers in this new space?  

1432772222813Lisa: We feel really good about fundraising in support of a local business, Reclaim Detroit, the folks who will be responsible for deconstruction of the buildings with as much as 75% of the materials diverted from landfills for use in new construction in the city. The houses will be taken down to make room for an urban flower farm, which is undeniably exciting for us flower types. We’ve seen the success of our lovely friend Sarah Pappas at Fresh Cut in Detroit, and I think this city is fertile ground for more beautiful flower farms!

Erin:  Finally, I know many Floret readers will want to learn more about the exhibition and how to support Flower House—how can they get involved?

Lisa: As I joked with Debra Prinzing in one of my first interviews about the project, it’s going to take a village to raise a flower house. Along with our talented florists, we’ll need volunteers to help with so many of the little things it takes to pull off an event of this size and scope.

For those who can’t help out with volunteer days or during the installation and exhibition, a donation to the project is much appreciated, as is simply spreading the word so that others can have a chance to donate, volunteer, or visit.

My goal for Flower House is to create something unprecedented from extraordinary collaboration, and for as many people as possible to experience it, including people outside of Detroit who can imagine Flower House as a stop on their exploration of our phenomenal city. Anything that helps achieve that is the answer, Erin!

Erin:  Great!  Thanks so much for your time today, Lisa.  I absolutely adore this idea and wish you phenomenal success.  I look forward to following your posts and progress on Instagram!

Photos by:  Heather Saunders

Stay connected with Flower House

Website: http://www.theflower.house

Instagram:  @flowerhousedetroit  https://instagram.com/flowerhousedetroit/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thedetroitflowerhouse

 

4 Comments

  1. DREAMING BIG IN DETROIT | on

    […] Earlier this year, I did a little interview with Lisa Waud, the creative genius behind Flower House, the floral art installation she organized for an abandoned, derelict house in Detroit that she purchased at auction for $250.  In our conversation, Lisa shared her dream to bring together floral designers and artists from across the country, provide them with truckloads of the very best U.S.-grown flowers and foliage, set them loose to design flower-filled rooms and then invite the public to tour the house as part of its last ‘hurrah’ before being responsibly deconstructed to make way for an urban flower plot. […]

    Reply
  2. Dreaming Big in Detroit - Floret Flowers on

    […] Earlier this year, I did a little interview with Lisa Waud, the creative genius behind Flower House, the floral art installation she organized for an abandoned, derelict house in Detroit that she purchased at auction for $250.  In our conversation, Lisa shared her dream to bring together floral designers and artists from across the country, provide them with truckloads of the very best U.S.-grown flowers and foliage, set them loose to design flower-filled rooms and then invite the public to tour the house as part of its last ‘hurrah’ before being responsibly deconstructed to make way for an urban flower plot. […]

    Reply

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