ISSUE 40  |  Nightshade

Short on Floral Inspiration? Start with the Vessel, Says David Stark

October 07, 2015 3:00 PM

BY Meredith Swinehart

If you ever find yourself lacking in inspiration for a great floral arrangement, take this tip from event designer David Stark: start with the vessel. It’s a simple trick, and a good investment–after all, the vases will stay while the flowers come and go.

The team at David Stark Design created five fall arrangements just for us–all with flowers available now, and all chosen for the beautiful handmade vessels in which they sit. Most of these flowers can be had on the cheap, and all the arrangements are simple enough to recreate at home. So find a favorite vessel–mug, dish, or vase–and get to work:

Photography by David Stark Design for Gardenista. 

Above: The team sourced New Jersey-grown dahlias from the Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket in Brooklyn–”Dahlias are the peonies of autumn,” says David–and paired them with black-and-white Splatter Mugs by LA artist Peter Shire. According to David, the key to this arrangement is having the courage to pair a bold color with an equally bold graphic pattern–here, “assertively decorative” magenta dahlias with subtly colored, but strongly graphic vessels. “The flowers arrange themselves!” he says. For sourcing information, visit Echo Park Pottery or Peter Shire Studio.

Above: Armed with this bud vase from Gardenista favorite Cécile Daladier, David assures us even a complete beginner can create floral arrangements akin to sculpture. “The dialogue here with this charming vase is not only with the blooms, but also with the gesture and structure of the stems,” he says. 

David’s team arranged drumstick alliums and passion vine in the three-holed shallow vase, which forces skinny-stemmed flowers like alliums to stand on their own. However, notes David’s team, because the dish is so shallow it’s important to keep the water topped up or the flowers will wilt. When arranging several of these vases in a group, “variation is key.” For soucing information, visit Cécile Daladier.

Above: Here, the team paired ‘PowWow White’ echinacea with ceramic flower discs of David’s own design. Made in collaboration with Detroit ceramicist Victoria Shaheen for Culture Lab Detroit, the hand-made discs will be available starting October 30 at design shop Nora (in Detroit and online). Stay tuned for more on a David Stark-designed pop-up shop at Nora to be held October 30-November 15.

Above: David Stark’s Ceramic Flower Rests come in six sizes, each with different hole patterns and each paired with a cylindrical glass vase. Check Nora for availability beginning October 30.

Above: These two designs are all about “architectural juxtaposition,” says David–of shape, form, color, and texture–anchored by sculptural vessels from Brooklyn artist Cody Hoyt. The team arranged scabiosa, French anemones, and optic grass in the shorter vase, and a burst of white sedum blossoms in the tall one. David’s tip: “Because these piece stand a-kilter, have fun with that: cluster various heights of vessels and blooms to create an architectural arrangement.” For more on Hoyt’s high art vessels, visit Patrick Parrish

Above: This terra cotta urn by potter Frances Palmer calls out for a full fall arrangement–”lush seasonal abundance,” in David’s words. The team filled it with locally harvested dahlias, basil blossoms, amaranthus, sunflowers, eucalyptus, echinacea, and smartweed. Note: The urn has a drainage hole for planted arrangements, so cut flowers require a watertight liner tucked inside. The No. Five Terra Cotta Two Handle Urn is $350 at Frances Palmer Pottery. 

For more from David, see: