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SKI designer Keith Arnold is not only a master at his craft but he has
a great talent for styling and polishing every finished interior to picture perfection.
Here he shares a valuable tip in his signature witty way...
After a few years at Neiman Marcus, it was time to move on to something else...
I secured a job at Ainsworth-Noah, a furniture and fabric showroom at ADAC. Ainsworth-Noah was huge and there was a constant movement of art, furniture, and accessories, in and out and around the showroom. It was my job to help style, arrange, and basically make sure that everything looked good. It was like Neiman Marcus without fashion.
I was so excited to get the job. Unlike my first day at Neiman’s, I felt like I knew what I was doing...until about halfway through my first day. Right after lunch, co-owner Winton Noah called me to his office. He told me that they had been unhappy with their floral arrangements and wanted someone else to take it over. He told me that with all of my experience, he knew I could do a better job. So, of course I said “sure I can do it.” eeeek, little did he know that in my years at Neiman’s I never touched a flower. Someone else always took care of it, not me! I didn’t know the difference between a carnation and a rose, much less a peony, ranunculus or camellia. He told me wanted me to do my first “arrangement” the next day.Photo: Erica George Dines
As soon as work was over, I went straight to the book store (no World Wide Web back then) and I started to comb through books. I was not going to fail. I stayed until they closed. I looked at Martha Stewart, Caroline Roehm, and any book I could find that had a flower in it. I also found a book from Kenneth Turner, an English party planner. He did a lot of over the top things I found really appealing. Now they may seem a little garish, but with flowers vulgar is sometimes good. He had some very practical tips that I still use to this day.
FLORAL LESSONS LEARNED
1. Think about how flowers grow...
If you are doing an arrangement of different flowers. Put in two or three of each in small bunches together. This is the way they would grow in nature.
2. Be careful of too many disparate colors.
I think it is always more beautiful to use only one or two colors in an arrangement.
3. Don’t freak out over symmetry.
Flowers don’t grow symmetrically in the garden and you don’t need to force them to be symmetrical in a vase.
4. Fabulous filler...
Try using a small flower as filler instead of greenery.
So after thinking about everything I had read, the next morning before work I went to the grocery store and bought a bag of lemons. Then, I went to the flower market and bought every yellow flower I could find. I filled a big vase with lemons (leaving the center open) and then over filled it with the yellow flowers. They were coming out in every direction. In its entirety, it was quite large and over the top (and maybe a little vulgar), but most importantly, it was a huge success. Everyone loved it and everyone thought I was an actual floral designer!
I was so happy my job was saved and I felt so relieved...until the next week when I realized I had to do another one!