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Philadelphia's most creative floral studio

Night at the Museum

In early March, Starr Events and the events team at The Philadelphia Museum of Art planned an evening to show a select group of guests just how great entertaining at the PMA can be. I was honored to be asked to design the evening.

I started my design process with a long visit to the museum. I wandered into a few galleries I had never been in and found a grouping of mixed media pieces from the 60s. This one particular piece was my jumping off point but in my distraction I forgot to get the artist's name!

With my inspiration in hand, I chose a floral palette of traditional Spring pastels toughened up with the addition of copper and plum tones and plenty of texture to keep things interesting.  The vessels all felt like pieces you might find somewhere in the Decorative Objects wing and every guest was able to take a design home at the end of the evening.

statement piece shot in the studio by Sullivan

statement piece shot in the studio by Sullivan

Susan Beard

Susan Beard

Susan Beard

Susan Beard

Susan Beard

Susan Beard

Susan Beard

Susan Beard

Susan Beard

Susan Beard

 

The gorgeous linens from Special Occasions, tableware from Party Rental LTD, dramatic lighting from Eventions Productions, specialty rental furniture from Maggpie Rentals and the perfect paper touches from Two Paperdolls were the perfect complement to the modern Folk Art inspired evening. As with most museum venues, candles and fire are an absolute NO. I decided to dress up my LED candles with hand marbled paper wrappers. This had a ton of impact for such a simple idea!

It's rare that I get to sit down at a table to enjoy the designs I work on but I was a lucky guest too. The meal from the Starr team was spectacularly delicious and sitting in the Great Stair Hall under Saint-Gaudens' Diana getting to know new people was a wonderful experience.

@sullivan_owen on Instagram

@sullivan_owen on Instagram

As one of the preferred floral and event designers for the PMA, I now feel even better informed to design in their wonderful and inspiring spaces. I'm looking forward to the exciting events we have coming up this year starting in May!

Thank you to Starr Events, The Philadelphia Museum of Art and Susan Beard for select photos!

 

Flower Magazine

I'm very excited to share my feature in Flower Magazine for their regular "Flower Show" story. With Spring as my inspiration, this was one of the most fun shoots I've worked on. It didn't hurt that I got to work with my friend Alison Conklin in my studio with our friend Amanda from Love Me Do shooting some behind the scenes video. Muppet the studio cat supervised of course.

When you're given the option to do anything you want, it's almost overwhelming to decide so I used these designs as opportunity to play with shape, color and vessels that I had been hoping to try or that I hope to do this coming year for clients. I hope you enjoy them!

Photos by Alison Conklin, video by Love Me Do Photography

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https://vimeo.com/119130754

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Sullivan Owen Holiday 2014

I'm excited to offer so many new ways to help you celebrate the holidays this year. From our adorable mini trees to custom wreaths to our whole home decor services, I've never been more excited for a holiday season! Please get in touch at 215 964 9790 or hello at sullivanowen.com, we can't wait to work with you! Last December my team and some very helpful friends gathered at my home for two snowy, cold days of holiday decorating. I hope you find it as inspiring and fun as we did! Thanks so much to With Love & Embers, Maggpie Vintage Rentals and Whipped Bakeshop for all your hard work.

Happy Holidays! S.O.

 

http://issuu.com/sullivanowen/docs/sullivan_owen_holiday_look_book_201

Continuing Education

Sometimes people ask me why I continue to take classes and workshops in floral design. I have always been most drawn to a designer’s process and I learn the most when I can watch them assemble a design in front of me. I’ve taken dozens of classes with florists, some of whom are now my peers. I’ve taken some lesson away from each experience whether it’s a small technical tip or a life changing view of a color or flower that I had previously overlooked.

It’s so easy to fall into a familiar style of design when you do it day in and out but in order for our clients to want something new, we have to show them something new. I’m grateful that earlier this year I was able to take 3 very important classes with designers that I admire and that have informed my career in various ways.

In February, my friend Christian Tortu came to Flower School New York to teach a class that he had never taught before on wedding design. He showed us images of some of his weddings that no one will ever see due to exclusivity or privacy and then we made two designs, a bridal bouquet and centerpiece. The techniques I took away from the day are firmly in my back pocket for future practice as I learn to make his techniques my own. It was a lovely experience and he is truly a wonderful teacher. This was my 6th time studying with Christian and I was inspired in part to write this post because I used a technique he taught me 18 months ago just last week for the first time!

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photos by Flower School NY & Sullivan Owen

In early March, Charles Masson taught his first master class in quite a while at Flower School NY and I was able to attend. A photo of one of Charles’ designs used to hang on the wall at the Tudor City location of Flower School NY and when I went for my very first class I was so charmed by this design. The design was so charming, slightly disheveled and imperfect but clearly thought out and composed. That picture came to symbolize what I wanted to find in myself, my own style of design that blended all these aspects of designers that I admired. Charles was the only master designer at Flower School who was left on my wish list and I was so happy to meet him and make a design reminiscent of that photo I fell in love with 5 years ago.

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photos 1 & 2 Flower School NY, photo 3 Sullivan Owen

In mid March, my friend Jennie and I had a fabulous day studying with Shane Connolly. I’m happy to say that the designer who did the wedding of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge is completely charming, amazingly talented and incredibly humble. We made a bridal bouquet and centerpiece during the full day class. We  learned so many new techniques and also met some great designers! 

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photos by Flower School NY & Sullivan Owen

It seems like almost every floral studio offers classes these days and while I do think it’s great that there’s so much interest in floral design, as a very experienced “student” one of my biggest takeaways is this: The design that you make in class is to teach you that designer’s technique. That design does not become “yours” just because you put the flowers together. The teacher in fact did the design for you when they chose the flowers, the vase and the skill they wanted to teach. To grow as a designer and to truly learn you must take these techniques and practice them until they become your own. And practice some more. What I admire most about the 3 gentlemen I studied with this year is that their designs are completely original and their own. That is what we should all aspire to as designers.

Winter Wedding-Brides Magazine

This stunning winter wedding we designed last January photographed by the amazing Alison Conklin was featured in Brides Magazine. I'm so happy to finally share her amazing photos and the hard work of all the talented vendors that made this wedding so gorgeous. Bridget & Tom celebrated their one year anniversary just yesterday the 26th! Bridget joined the Sullivan Owen team in November working with me and our brides. She'll be writing a few upcoming posts about the process of working with your designer and putting together all the details that make a wedding your own. Enjoy!

photographer: Alison Conklin, event design: The Bride,  Mother of the Bride and Sullivan Owen, floral design: Sullivan Owen, Paper: Loveleigh, Custom Illustration: Meg Hunt, Cake: Tartes fine cakes & pastries, Hair:Zaneta Leszczynska from Studio CL , Makeup:Nives Riddle and Dawn Episcopo , Venue: terrain at Styer's

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Cinematic Inspiration-Michael & Apollonia

This post started with a tweet by Anthony BourdainHe was shooting his show 'Parts Unknown" in Savoca, Sicily aka "Corleone" in The Godfather movie last week and tweeted a photo of the church where Michael Corleone & Apollonia Vitelli were married in The Godfather. I was reminded of how much I loved that wedding and started looking at scenes and stills from the movie. The floral palette is inspired more by the buildings and landscape then the actual scenes from the wedding. I used a rough planter that felt like an old frescoed wall and the oak leaf hydrangea and giant magnolia look tea stained, rustic and elegant to make a bouquet for the fictional Apollonia and a centerpiece for their reception at her father's Bar Vitelli. 

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I hope to do more of these posts in the future, are there any cinematic weddings you'd like to see re-imagined?

Produce Inspiration

I'm blogging about my European adventures pretty haphazardly. You can see what my first day in Amsterdam was like here but today I'm sharing my day at the Rungis Market outside of Paris. I wrote that when I thought I would do a daily blog post but I couldn't keep up.

If you haven't followed along about a month ago I went to Amsterdam and Paris with a group from Flower School where I also teach. The progression of the trip was excellent, we saw flower fields, the auction and met some exporters and did a workshop with Matthew Robbins inspired by Vermeer. Then we all headed to Paris for it's magical architecture, curated flower shops and design time with master florist Christian Tortu. Christian took us shopping at Rungis Market for the elements we would use in our designs with him. The flowers were beautiful but nothing too unusual except the African and tropical imports which were amazing. Most of the blooms were what we see here and in NY so I didn't take many photos. Christian's work is very varied and he was looking for unexpected elements so he brought us over to the produce building and it was amazing. These were my favorite photos from the trip because they are so graphic and I loved the merchandising and packaging of all these items we think of as commodities. They were treated just like jewels. I could definitely imagine summer dinner parties with tablescapes of produce or using these images to create color palettes for clients. Do you have a favorite non-floral element you like to design with?

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My Inspiration

My inspiration this month is definitely found in the spring blooms returning to the market even though proper Spring won't be here for several more weeks. Lilac, spirea, delicate fritillaria, hellebores, narcissus and so many others are really pushing me to try new color palettes and flower combinations. They've also got me thinking of my new garden which will be a long time coming as we've still got a lot of work to do outside the house. Lately, I'm digging super short stemmed bouquets like this one.

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Why so short? These fritillaria and hellobore blooms don't grow very tall and need to drink a lot so we cut everything to the length of the shortest stemmed flower in the bouquet so they reach the water. This bouquet also gave the me the opportunity to use a snakeskin I'd been hoarding saving for a rainy day.

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Sullivan-Owen-Spring-Wedding-Bouquet-Fritillaria-Hellebore-Philadelphia-Snakeskin-Wrap

Magnolia is a personal favorite and this creamy bloom looked so insanely good with with plummy Japanese ranunculus and NJ hellebore. All the blooms are incredibly long lasting if a bit on the pricey side. I've heard this type of magnolia called a 'Tulip' magnolia. It's gorgeous and I will definitely have to get one of these for the new garden.

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We were busy for the last couple of weeks with the Philadelphia Flower Show. I'll be sharing photos from our display with the Parks Department in the next week or so but for now take a look at this gorgeous clematis from Raymond Evison Clematis who was exhibiting at the Show.

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Raymond-Evison-Clematis-Philadelphia-Flower-Show-2013

Floral Inspiration-Pink & Wine

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Sullivan-Owen-Floral-Inspiration-July23

Dress, Ring, Shoe, Bag, Rug & Necklace

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Sullivan-Owen-Floral-Inspiration-Wedding-Philadelphia-Candelabra

Floral Inspiration-Green

Green, the "beige" of the flower world but it's anything but boring when it's the dominant color in a floral design.

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Floral Inspiration-White

To be perfectly honest, I'm a little shopped out this week. I'm getting ready for Engage! in Las Vegas and I didn't realize how much I was looking forward to a few glamorous evenings away but after 5 crazy weeks of non stop arranging in jeans and a t shirt, I'm pretty psyched to get dolled up a bit. I'm considering this blazer for one of the evening activities...

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Sullivan-Owen-White-Floral-Inspiration

This photo is from our gorgeous white wedding this past Saturday. The couple couldn't have been sweeter and they had the most amazing weather.

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Sullivan-Owen-White-Wedding-Floral-Design-Philadelphia

Back next week with a full inspiration post!