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Homage to Nature
By Fan Winston
The key to creating arrangements that feel modern and unfussy: Respect -- even celebrate -- the imperfections in nature. The partners behind New York City’s Polux Fleuriste show us how it’s done. Click through to get their tips for natural-looking arrangements.
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Anouchka Martin started Polux Fleuriste 10 years ago. The floral business reminded her of the flower shops she frequented in her native Paris. "They were all over the place," says Martin. "Buying flowers and wine on the way home after work was a daily little pleasure."
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Two of a Kind
A few years later, she made the enterprise feel even homier by bringing in her best friend, Barbara Sarudiansky, as a partner. The two have been nearly inseparable since meeting at grade school when they were 12.
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Flair for Fleurs
Sarudiansky’s and Martin’s love of vintage details is obvious at their store, which also sells antique botanical prints, vintage vases, and jewelry made by a friend.
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Lesson No. 1
The varied greenery that often accompanies store-bought flowers may seem extraneous (think baby’s breath and fern), but bundle it en masse and artfully sprinkle in some pretty blooms and you’ve got a striking arrangement. In this example, lavender scabiosa, sweet peas, and ocher star scabiosa pop against an abundant backdrop of Queen Anne’s lace, acacia, eucalyptus berries, and dusty miller.
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Lesson No. 2
Think Outside the Vase
The flowers are the stars, yes. But the award for best supporting role goes to the vessels that display them. So spend time searching for unusual containers: vintage bottles, repurposed jars, even teacups. Here, for instance, a bottle provides the perfect base for scabiosa, whimsically wrapped at the mouth with moss, while another holds a mound of ebullient hydrangea with a garland of falling blossoms (the petals were threaded onto gold wire). The narrow necks of the vessels mean you only need a few stems.
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Lesson No. 3
Toy with Texture
Polux Fleuriste’s creations engage the senses of not only sight and smell but touch, too. The women often play with the “contrast between rough and delicate,” says Sarudiansky, as in this unexpected arrangement of soft (carnations, Queen Anne’s lace, roses), firm (thistles and eucalyptus berries), and spiky (dianthus foliage scavenged from the backyard).
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Lesson No. 4
If you’re not a pro, coming up with a palette for your arrangement can be daunting. A simple strategy to prevent garish results? “Use soft shades, and mix colors in the same family,” suggests Martin, as she did to beautiful effect in this bouquet of roses, anemones, andromeda, mint, and Queen Anne’s lace.
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One of Martin and Sarudiansky's top tips: Don't save flowers for a special occasion; make them a habit. "They bring happiness and well-being," says Martin. "They are a way to connect with nature in urban life, which is something we all need."
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The design duo's shared sensibility informs every aspect of their work, from the interior of their Tribeca store -- inspired by Martin's mother's Provencal-style kitchen -- to the flowers, which radiate the unfussed-over elegance at which French women famously excel.
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Rather than arranging the flowers in a vase, they usually create their bouquets in their hands, a French technique that results in a more natural look.
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Queen Anne’s lace looks bold when just a few sculptural stems are placed in a vessel. “We like to work with the natural movement of flowers,” says Martin. The arrangement is flanked by low, tight bunches of sage, roses, and anemones.
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Freshly cut flowers (from left, roses, star scabiosa, lisianthus, nerine, dahlias, anemones, lotus pods, parrot tulips, ivy, and Queen Anne’s lace) are grouped by color.