Your not-so-average bouquet. With inspiration from fine art, abstract forms, texture, light and color, Doan Ly elevates floral design into an art form. At her Brooklyn-based studio, a.p.bio, Doan creates modern floral compositions you won’t find anywhere else for a variety of events and editorial. We went on the scene in her dreamy studio, bursting with an array of fresh flowers. It felt as if we’d discovered a secret garden…
(Founder of A.P. Bio Floral Design)
Can you describe a typical day?
During high season, I'm usually sleep deprived and rushing all over the city. There really isn't a typical day, but if there's a wedding, I will wake up at 6am and head to the flower market. I'll shop for two hours, send a van back to the studio, where designers are already prepping. We'll have lunch together, and work keep working afterwards. They usually wrap up at 6pm or 7pm, and I'll stay on to do admin work until late.
It's common for me to work 14-hour days in high season for long stretches on end. Other days, I'll hop all over town for meetings and site visits. I try to squeeze a funny slow motion video with my designers. I make them do dances or petal tosses. It's what I live for!
Being surrounded by flowers all the time sounds like a dream job. What excites you most about what you do?
I love colors! I love being able to create a cohesive palette with natural elements- so many colors and textures available. I feel like floral design is akin to sculpture and painting combined, with a strong element of temporality. Flowers change; they open, bend, fade, and die. When I photograph still lifes, there's the added element of light. It's art making everyday.
You discover some of the most beautiful flowers. Do you have any tips for flower shopping?
Check the stems! If the leaves on the stems are yellow, it means the flowers have been sitting around for a while. Sometimes squeezing the head of the flowers will tell you if they're fresh. Roses should feel firm.
More importantly, people forget to take care of flowers when they are brought home. A very simple tip to keeping flowers alive that people overlook all the time is water! Flowers need water. If you get arrangements delivered, keep checking the water level and make sure it's full to the top of the vase. Flowers drink water, sometimes quicker than you think!
If you're making your own arrangements, peel all the leaves off the stems that will reach the water. Leaves rot faster and the bacteria in the water will speed decay of the flower. Give stems a fresh cut before placing them in water, as the stems have been clogged up and sealed (by air) and need a fresh cut to open up again to absorb water. Also make sure your vases are clean! Anything to decrease the bacterial content in the water will help increase shelf life for your flowers.
Advice for DIY flower arrangements?
I love keeping it simple. Unless your house is immaculately curated and minimal, there's usually a lot going on, especially with New York apartments. I love getting a large bunch of just one type of flower, so that they become a block of color. Simple and chic, and very do-able.
I would invest in a nice vase- I'm obsessed with colored glass, and fill it with a nice pop of color (remember white can be a strong color as well, doesn't have to be vibrant). Best yet, splurge on some coral charm peonies! A stem or two on a table does wonders.
Anything you learned recently that blew your mind away? Cuttlefish and octopus are amazing at camouflage!!
When I'm stuck creatively, I... Look at art books- from paintings to photography. Currently looking at a William Eggleston and Manuel Alvarez Bravo.
Favorite flower? Coral charm peonies
Best place I've traveled to? Iceland
Frames I'm obsessed with? I love the Carina shapes! Super comfortable!
If I could have one super power? Besides flying, which is my first and obvious go-to, I would love to have the super power of speaking all the world's languages.
Best advice I received? "If you're feeling safe in the area you're working in, you're not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you're capable being in. Go a little bit out of your depths, and when you don't feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you're just about in the right place to do something exciting." -David Bowie
Emoji that best describes me?
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