Floral Industry, Science Needs You

The relationship between floral design and science is a natural pairing for business growth.


Let’s imagine for a second, you are a brilliant brain scientist explaining new discoveries made in a decades-long series of investigations. The new findings suggest that memory loss due to brain degeneration may actually be a puzzle we can solve thanks to your work in biotech.

Excellent, right? This is a scenario one of my clients might find him/herself in while speaking to would-be research supporters. The audience is composed of smart businesspeople and philanthropists but not scientists.

These advancements will reduce broken hearts, lead to better lives and generate ever-growing questions about what and how we will remember things in the future.

You simply cannot contain yourself to describe the beauty of how technology and brain science merge. The words flow. You have to be vigilant to ensure you don’t talk too fast. You describe the intricacies of your state-of-the-art instruments, the combined brainpower of your team, and the advancements in computer science that allow things to happen that were previously considered science fiction.

You pause at the climax of your presentation. You look out to see the faces of your audience and await a roar of applause. But, instead, you see emptiness. You see slow-blinking eyes, tilted heads and confusion. Your message and its impact is lost because of information paralysis. Dang it!

That’s an opportunity lost, and these days we have to make use of every opportunity we have at our audience’s attention and not waste it. We need to give them something of significance. This is how I approach every event design and floral job for every client but especially our science and tech clients.

You may not see how science and floral design can go together, but as a floral and event designer, we’ve somehow carved out a niche in Seattle’s science and tech scene. I see my company, Lola Creative, as a group of mechanically brained designers. We are obsessed with how things work, and it’s a natural pairing.

After all, we tinker with flowers, they tinker with, well, cells and semiconductors.

In the words of Wil Wheaton, a nerd is defined in this way: “It’s not about what you love; it’s about how you love it.”

So from one flower nerd to another, here’s what I’ve seen in how the world of science needs you.

Much of science suffers from an inefficacy to communicate to the masses. Those engaged in scientific research struggle to simplify a message into its beautiful life-changing significance or, at the very least, to crack the shell of our attention.

With heads filled with all research minutiae, our clients struggle to bring the message down to a level that the rest of us understand. They don’t remember what it felt like not knowing what they know.

Typically, the client wants his or her audience to understand, so their tendency is to overload the design. The goal, however, is not so much to make the audience understand but to make them care. For that, we don’t need to express the whole story.

Floral design – under the umbrella of all art – is really good at simplifying. Through art, we can get that messy stuff down to its essence.

By asking all the stupid questions I can think up, I guide my client to simplify his or her message. What rises is the one glowing nugget that will grab the imagination.

We want our audience to connect with the message and allow it to change their lives. We want them to remember. To do that, we need to crack that crusty shell so that they want to know more.

Once a guest is comfortable and curious, he or she is open to receive more. Now, they are open to really hearing what you want them to hear.

Now they are ready to leave the reception and enter the conference. Or in weddings, now they are ready to leave cocktail hour and head to the ceremony.

If you jump over gaining curiosity first, you risk that messy message pummeling your audience’s already-full brain, and it just rolls past the ears.

This drive to simplify and spark curiosity is how we approach full-event design, but even at the single-arrangement level, a scientifically inspired floral arrangement has the opportunity to spark curiosity.

At the end of the day, we need to make people comfortable, delight them and give them something to talk about. What better way to celebrate processes and changes, innovative technologies and the inexplicable beauty of natural processes than with floral art. Curiosity is sparked by the unexpected.

Brain and eye science after all tells us that the eyes look for edges, for contrasts. It’s drawn to something out of the ordinary. Science and tech offer endless materials and unexpected mashups to play with. Nature provides us with endless textures, shapes and colors to build on that contrast.

Science and floral design seek the same thing: to understand our materials and show the world what the possibilities are.

If you are looking to expand your client base or your next source of inspiration, embrace science. And maybe help out your fellow nerd. n

By Emily Ellen Anderson
Emily Ellen Anderson is creative director at Lola Creative in Edmonds, Wash., an event design company creating artful events for massive impact, and educator at Curious Lola, a design community to help floral businesses thrive and teach florists how to build bigger events.