Flower power: arranging for PAVE event with skill, intuition and a little Zen

“Just as we know about color affecting mood, floral arrangements done with skill can be uplifting and the focal point at an event,” says Visual Presentation and Exhibition Design (VPED) Professor Robin Drake.” Flowers can be so personal and we had so many beautiful ones from which to choose.”

Students from Prof. Drake’s Overview VPED class were invited to prepare floral centerpieces to be showcased at the upcoming Planning and Visual Education (PAVE) event to be held at Cipriani on Wall Street.  PAVE is a retail trade organization that works to connect design students, educators and professionals.

Angela Giaco creating her arrangement for the PAVE event

Joe Baer, the visual merchandising expert and co-founder and creative director of ZenGenius, hosted the class and supplied the flowers and other materials. “He provided great direction. He has an effusive spirit and clearly knows the magic of the art form,” says Prof. Drake.

“We learned a lot about an important aspect of what can go into a large-scale event,” said Prof. Drake. “The arrangements have the capacity to engage viewers, whether in fine arts, or featured at a high-end restaurant or an important event where you want people to feel welcome.”

Joe Baer, co-founder, CEO and creative director of ZenGenius

Baer taught four different formal approaches to arranging flowers, and one that is free-form, or naturalistic.

“Baer emphasized a Zen-like practice of stepping back and seeing the beauty in the flowers,” said Prof. Drake. For each arrangement Baer instructed students to quickly sketch the “movement” or “gesture” — to capture the way the flowers should flow, to be used as a guide.

Ariel Leder with her flower arrangement

“It’s a mixture of skill and intuition,” says Prof. Drake. “Our students have loads of intuition; combined with the instruction they received they created some intriguing designs.”

Photos of students: Robin Drake


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