Lewis Miller - Not your Grandmother's Florist
The New York floral artist is one of 86 featured in new book Blooms. How does he arrange inspiration and emotion?
California born, Seattle raised and New York made, floral artist Lewis Miller has worked with fashion and luxury brands such as Bulgari, Ferragamo, Tiffany, Valentino, Versace and Viktor & Rolf. Meanwhile, museums like the Whitney and the Met, and big retail and finance guns such as Amazon, Bergdorf Goodman and J.P. Morgan Chase line up to adorn their spaces with his truly wondrous, colourful creations.
But he's perhaps more widely known for his guerrilla floristry displays, put together with a small team in the early hours of the morning in his Manhattan Studio and placed in various locations – bus shelters, at the base of monuments, around traffic signs - in the city.
These Flower Flashes, as he calls them, bring a riot of colour to the morning commute and make a statement about sustainability that's uncommon in the world of floristry.
Lewis is one of 86 floral artists featured in our new book Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design which showcases the work of designers across the globe. In it you'll find established florists alongside rising new talent – each nominated by industry experts. It's an expertly curated, gorgeously produced collection of work that offers insight into the profound effect that floristry has on today's visual culture. And, if you're looking for new ideas to make your living space really zing, boy is this the book for you. We pulled Lewis away from the petals long enough to ask him a few questions.
How would you describe what you do and do you have a signature style? I am a creative person who works with flowers. Signature style? Abundant, effortless, romantic.
How did you get here? I come from a family of gardeners. My mother, grandfather, great grandmother, they were all gardeners. My grandmother had sweet violets growing in her front lawn as well as rose bushes that reached 10 feet tall with hundreds of blooms on each bush. There were amaryllis growing out of the ground, their bulbs the size of soccer balls. I was very lucky to have grown up in central California where the climate is very similar to the Mediterranean. It was basically an oasis and I was fortunate to have grown up surrounded by nature.
I started my business in 2002. I didn’t have a set business plan at the time, but I did have a very strong and focused vision of what I wanted my work to look and feel like. I wanted to use flowers to transform a space and create a mood. I wanted to bring nature inside but still retain the wild bounty of the outdoors but in a controlled and styled way.
What inspires you? Inspiration can come from anywhere. Film, gardens, interiors, painting, and the written word. Sometimes reading a beautifully crafted passage in a book is the greatest inspiration. Because it is not a visual reference. You’re giving life and reinterpreting the written words. The words inform your imagination but do not dictate the final creation. I love Henry James and Edith Wharton. Passages that describe an environment or a trip to Paris.
In one word, what emotion do you want to evoke in people? Joy!
Is how an arrangement smells important? Yes - it's the extra dimension. The spicy pungency of geranium leaf, the clarity of mint, the buttery scent of gardenia or tuberose, the purity of Lily-of-the-Valley - fragrance is so important!
How long can you spend on a particular arrangement and what’s the hard part to get right? The best ones are the quickest - 15 minutes or less. Overthinking causes confusion.
What’s the commission you’re most proud of and why? My mind doesn’t work that way. Once something is done, it’s history. I’m always thinking how to make the next better.
Check out Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design and come back soon for another interview with one of the floral artists in it.