Feel free to judge this book by its cover.
You may have heard of Lewis Miller, the New York based floral designer. The one with a client list that includes Givenchy, Chanel, Bergdorf Goodman, Bulgari, and the Whitney Museum. He is famous for his lush, naturalistic take on flower arrangements. Miller’s work evokes an old-world, still life painterly charm that unexpectedly carries a modern twist. He pairs the unexpected, bucks the trends of floral design, and has a restlessness about him that inspires him to continue pushing aesthetic boundaries in his creation of elegant masterpieces. Link him with photographer Don Freeman, who collaborated with Miller for ten years, using only natural light, and the results are bewitching. Let’s take a look:
Miller’s take is unorthodox. He approaches his art form like a true artist, considering color, composition, movement, shape and texture. In fact, those are the chapters, where he expounds upon each of those elements of floral design. Early on he offers assurances to his readers that this beautiful book will not be one of those preachy, condescending floral books, but rather one intended to inspire the professional or the enthusiast, creating painterly and poetic magic with materials that are obtainable to all.
“A successful composition is one that is highly composed yet looks effortless.”
“Styling nature and bringing flowers into the home are a great luxury. Flowers are the final accessory to a room and can and should change with the seasons. Consider the color of the room and source of light when making and placing your arrangement.”
Practicalities are addressed with information on the best ways to handle flowers, prolong the life of an arrangement, and how to work mood, movement, seasonality into a very out-of-the-box approach to flowers. It is as if he feels that flowers have yet to get the respect they deserve.
Lewis opens the reader’s eyes to containers high and low, arrangement-enriching non-floral elements, and the endless textures of unexpected foliage. In addition to special occasions, Styling Nature encourages us to incorporate flowers into our everyday lives, and will embolden connoisseurs of natural beauty who want to take this soulful domestic art into their own hands.
It is hard to decide which is more beautiful, the photos or the floral arrangements. Both Miller and Freeman are artists, and their combined work takes on the lush richness of the paintings of Flemish or Italian masters. Styling Nature is the kind of book you want to take in at a relaxed pace over a nice glass of wine. The book ends with an invaluable thumbnail index of all images, listing the types of flowers in each arrangement, so the reader will know what to look, or ask for.
All photos © Don Freeman
© STYLING NATURE: A Masterful Approach to Floral Arrangements by Lewis Miller with Irini Arakas, Rizzoli New York, 2016. Images, which may not be reproduced in any way without written permission from the publisher, are available to accompany your coverage, and are to be credited © Don Freeman.