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Finding a Connection: Floral Design Tips from Naco Suzuki

Written by
Grace Pawlowski
Published on
May 12, 2017 at 10:57:00 AM PDT May 12, 2017 at 10:57:00 AM PDTth, May 12, 2017 at 10:57:00 AM PDT

A beautiful bouquet of peonies.

The perfect flower to gift this Mother’s Day according to Naco Suzuki, our go-to floral artist from Kathleen Deery Design in San Francisco. Naco turns dreams into reality through her creative approach to floral design. Each event that she works on is carefully considered before she creates a beautiful botanical experience using nature's finest materials. We were fortunate to catch up with Naco and ask her about her inspiration, how she builds an arrangement and what advice she can give us to create our own blooms to celebrate Mother’s Day.

UMB: Naco, thank you so much for taking the time to share your talent with us. Your work is stunning. Where do you find your inspiration?

NS: Inspiration is everywhere: flowers, trees, nature, interior design, architecture, art, colors and even fashion.

It’s easy to find beautiful materials in your own backyard, on the street, everywhere you go. In nature you are surrounded by seasonal flowers, trees, branches with unique foliages, blossoms and colors.

Art, fashion and architecture also inform my design, especially if I’m creating a piece specifically for an interior space that has a certain character or vibe. I look at the lines and materials of the space, the colors and the art to select the right containers, composition of flowers and materials so it feels like a right fit.

UMB: Can you walk us through the steps you take to build an arrangement?

NS: There are many different steps and directions for building an arrangement from all angles. Whatever comes first is up to you, but I can give you an example.


Step 1

Experience the event theme, everything from the space of the room, the art, colors, chosen container and of course the flowers that you plan to work with.

NACO’S TIP: Personally, I love to use best seasonal materials. If I see a beautiful fresh product, I work to incorporate it with the other elements. If you want to buy the best fresh materials at the flower market, go there early in the morning like 5am!

Step 2

Once you have your fresh materials, clean, clean, clean! Clean dry or dead foliage from each stem to avoid bacteria growth in the water so it will keep longer. Cut stems to allow them to absorb more water.

Step 3

Where do they go? Think about where you want to put the flowers and materials.

Step 4

Think about your space and choose the arrangement style that will look best once it’s incorporated (classic, modern, flemish, high-style, wild, etc.)

Step 5

Find a container to fit the space and materials.

Step 6

Talk to the flowers and foliage. If they like your choices, they have their way of showing you where they want to go and be placed.

UMB: Wow, it truly is a unique creative process every time you design something. I love that you respect your materials and let them come together in such an organic (almost magical!) way. Finding the right combination sounds a bit tricky, how do you know what pairs well together?

NS: There are basic elements to consider: color, size and texture.

For a classic and elegant arrangement:

• Choose a monochromatic color (flowers that are the same/similar color).

• Select flowers in various sizes and foliage to create dimension.

• Pick materials with different textures. For example, the tiny dense flowers of a Lilac create a nice contrast with the solid surface of Rose petals.

NACO’S TIP: Your arrangements can never go wrong if you consider these three basic elements!

UMB: What flowers do you recommend for Mother's Day? What’s in season?

NS: Peonies. Also, tulips, lilac, garden roses and flowering branches like dogwood and crabapple are all available right now.

PRO TIP: Carry all your materials for mom home in Urban Market Bags

UMB: Do you have any recommendation on how to handle wild vs. store-bought flowers?

NS: Flowers from the garden/wildflowers: Put them in water as soon as you cut them to keep them at their peak freshness.

Store-bought flowers: Check the leaves and bottom of the stems to make sure they are not yellow or brown. Cut stems 1/2” (or preferred length) under water to prevent air bubbles and help them start drinking water again.

BEHIND THE SCIENCE: When you cut flowers without submerging them in water (or at least under running water) you run the risk of air being drawn into the stem. If air is trapped in the stem then the flower will have trouble absorbing water properly and won’t last as long.

UMB: What types of vases and containers do you like? Anything out of the ordinary?

NS: I always love containers made by artists and craftsmen: Welders, ceramists and even furniture makers.

UMB: Do you have any tips or tricks of the trade you could share with us?

NS: Your favorite flowers, foliage, materials, vases and containers give you better ideas and inspiration than things you don’t speak to you. Work with what you love.

It’s important to connect with the flowers and containers you’re working with to create a truly inspiring arrangement.

UMB: Thank you so much Naco! It has been a pleasure learning more about the artistry behind your amazing designs. Your creative energy is contagious and you’ve provided so many helpful tips. Now we’re off to create something ourselves.

Naco Suzuki is a certified freelance floral designer and currently, a lead floral designer and Director of Operations at Kathleen Deery Design. Follow Kathleen Deery Design on Instagram to see some of their most recent work.

Naco was a featured artist at the De Young Museum's Bouquets to Art

Photo courtesy of Naco Suzuki

Find additional information about the De Young Museum's Bouquets to Art event here.

Images courtesy of Naco Suzuki and Kathleen Deery Design