Maurice Harris | USA
Stockton, California, USA, 1981
Maurice Harris is a star, in every positive sense of the word. Not just because of his client list, which includes some of the biggest names in Hollywood and leading brands like Louis Vuitton, Opening Ceremony, Dior, Nike, Gucci, The Row, Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana. And not because his work has been featured in Vogue, W Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times and AD, or because his talents aren’t limited to floral art: you can see his photographs on display at the San Diego Art Institute or attend one of his performances at The Broad. Harris has the charisma and strength that characterises a star, and he manages to convey those qualities in each of his creations, which tend to be a riot of colour and excess.
The form and substance of his works are steeped in his sense of humour, craftsmanship and commitment to the African American, LGBTIQ+ and other frequently marginalised communities. Harris combines beauty and social awareness at his studio in the heart of Echo Park, one of L.A.’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, and in his television appearances: viewers may have recently seen him on his American TV show “Centerpiece” or the HBOMax reality show “Full Bloom”.
Emma Weaver | UK
Leamington Spa, 1989
Weaver defines herself as a sculptor who works in the unique intersection between horticulture, the design of spaces and floral art. Educated at London’s Central Saint Martins, one of the world’s most renowned art schools, she also has experience in set design and fashion. Her background ended up leading her to flowers, the feature that ties all her work together, which she approaches in a highly-personal manner.
Through her work she makes us consider what good taste really means. Why are certain flowers and colour combinations considered unacceptable, old fashioned or simply bad taste? Non-conformist, unorthodox and a fan of ‘more is more’, in her installations everything clashes—the colours, the textures, the scale—but always by design.
‘A lot of the things that are done in floristry and horticulture seem grotesque to me’, says the English artist, ‘a practice based on control and manipulation. We anthropomorphise nature, imposing our own taste. Exploring that is a key part of my work’. Suspense, equilibrium, tension and humour could well be the words that define her creations, which occupy a space somewhere between the Baroque and punk.
KOKON | SPAIN
Zamora, Spain, 1989
KOKON, the personal project of the artist María Eugenia Diego, makes us rethink how human beings relate to beauty and nature. ‘They are an inherent part of us. They do us a lot of good and we really need them’, she notes, ‘especially in cities’. To this effect, Diego uses natural elements to design spaces which create a stronger connection and experience for viewers. It is no coincidence that Diego is an architect: her knowledge and concern about the places in which she intervenes is clear to see.
KOKON often works with natural elements that are not commonly seen in classic floral arrangements and more closely associated with textile production or craftsmanship, such as linen and esparto grass. With a sense of precision and delicacy the artist achieves exquisite results from materials with a seemingly coarse appearance.
In 2018, after many years working as an architect in various studios, Diego decided to make a radical career change, delving into the world of floral design. A year and a half at the LOEWE Flores store and a pandemic were the perfect breeding ground for creating her own project, KOKON, with which she has won FLORA Festival’s Patio Talento 2022.
Cordero Atelier | SPAIN
Madrid, Spain, 1980
Sara Uriarte is, for several reasons, a rare bird in the world of floral art, as is FLORA. The driving force behind her creative studio—Cordero Atelier, specialised in art direction with a unique and impetuous vision of floral art—is Sara’s passion for flowers, which was born in a laboratory rather than a garden. A trained pharmacist, she soon learned that every identifying feature of a species serves a perfect and specific purpose in a given environment. After years spent analysing plants, she began working with them to express herself and to inspire emotion, convey ideas or connect with other people. Today Uriarte is one of the most interesting floral artists in Spain, constantly sought after by Hermès, Loewe, Narciso Rodríguez, Kenzo and other brands.
Cordero Atelier projects have a strong architectural and sculptural tendency. The analysis of surprising shapes and structures is a constant in these works: botany plays at creating an ecosystem where every element does its part, despite the appearance of chaos. For Cordero Atelier, unlike the vast majority of florists, is more concerned with the “mass” than with the silhouette of each individual stem and bloom. Sara Uriarte has explained that she sees floral art as “a mass of energy, imbued with both force and meaning, that bursts onto the scene with its own authority, that fascinates, disconcerts and even invades, reclaiming the space stolen from nature”. Undoubtedly a different approach to the botanical realm.
Yuji Kobayashi | JAPAN
Tokyo, Japan, 1963
One of the inevitable hallmarks of every great artist is forging a personal style, and Yuji Kobayashi, with his radical approach to flowers and plants, found his long ago. Few floral creators are as recognisable as this Japanese artist, with the “Geometric Green” that is his obsession and also the name of his studio.
Kobayashi imagines forms that are impossible in nature and makes them a reality thanks to his surprising, meticulous design and architecture work. Rather than blending in with the surrounding space, his creations play with it by means of contrast and the particular dialogue between straight and curved lines, symmetry and chance. He admittedly finds architecture more inspiring than traditional floral design, as one can tell by looking at any of his arrangements.
Yuji Kobayashi has spent twenty-nine years looking for ways to improve and embellish floral designs. After a brief musical career, he decided to learn the art of flower arrangement on his own, which is particularly remarkable for someone who has been an honoured guest at institutions like Cohim in Beijing, one of the most respected flower schools in the world. Additionally, he is responsible for the floral decorations at the finest Japanese hotels (Park Hyatt Tokyo, Hyatt Regency Hakone, Hyatt Regency Seragaki Okinawa) and has worked for Chanel, Dior, Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton, Baccarat, Wedgwood and many other top brands.
AN ORIGINAL IDEA BY ZIZAI CULTURA
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