You come upon it without warning. Amid the bustle of Brooklyn’s Dumbo district, where burly men with hand trucks crowd the sidewalks and delivery trucks honk and jostle to get through the cobblestone streets beneath the Manhattan Bridge, you will find an unlikely oasis of greenery. It belongs to the florist who decorated the White House for Christmas last year.
People may come in because they see the tiny "flowers" sign over the door but, more likely, they probably want to know what the set of a Tarzan movie is doing on Jay Street. They may not know that Emily Thompson Flowers was chosen to decorate the White House last Christmas, that her clients include the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Frick Collection, as well as a roster of celebrities that Thompson does not disclose. Her designs adorn fancy restaurants and private homes as well as corporate executive offices.
To see more of her work, including her White House arrangements, go to Emily Thompson Flowers.
Above: Emily Thompson (L) in her studio. Everywhere you go in New York City these days you encounter a new sensibility. Plants should be native. Buildings should be green. Food should be local. It fits that Thompson should be breaking the mold of what a floral designer does. She has come down from the Vermont woods with her artist’s eye, her love of nature and her unfettered imagination at just the right time. Photo by Kirsten Luce for the New York Times.
Above: Around the room, all over the walls and on whatever piece of floor that does not hold a pair of feet are flowers, vases, potted plants, and every kind of objet d’art. They are offered for sale to customers who wander in off the street. Image via Flower Magazine.
Above: Inside is a factory, but this factory resembles a place where the Seven Dwarfs might work or where the witches in Macbeth might come to brew magic spells. It is no surprise to learn that the boss, the owner Emily Thompson, grew up in the wilds of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. She runs things from a desk made of a glass case containing a wax octopus. It’s not just any wax octopus. Thompson made it back when she was a sculptor, before she started decorating the parties of the rich and famous. Image via Livia Di Mario.
Above: The entire space of Emily Thompson Flowers is under 300 square feet, barely room enough for her three designers to crowd around the giant work table. They are making centerpieces and boutonnieres and trying to figure out how to get floppy dahlias to stand up straight. The studio manager's "office" is a laptop and a chair wedged between the octopus table and a hulking oak file cabinet. Photograph by Jeanne Rostaing,
Above: A corner of the shop, where essentials like gardening aprons (designed by Thompson and made of durable canvas and leather in Greenpoint by Cold Picnic; available for $150) are on offer. Photo by Kevin Ryan, via Mom Trends.
Above: The studio and retail shop of Emily Thompson Flowers. Without the tangle of woody vines, the cascading creeping jenny, the banana tree, and the potted agaves, it would probably look like just another factory entrance. But this entrance appears to have been excavated from a fairytale forest and brought here by cavemen in an oxcart.
N.B.: For another tiny flower shop, see Bringing the Outdoors In.