Continuing our series of visits to PHS Philadelphia Flower Show exhibitors, I visited Michael Haschak at PURE Design.
Now in its eighth year, PURE Design is located at 22nd and Lombard Street in the Fitler Square section of Philadelphia. A contemporary flower shop, each arrangement is handmade according to the needs of the client. Every piece is designed with the eye of an artist and reflects PURE Design’s belief that flowers are just another artistic medium. Always creative, their work has been featured on numerous television and movie sets, as well as around Philadelphia at parties, photo shoots, and events–yet, their sleek signature look is the perfect complement to any home decor.
PURE Design was a first-time exhibitor at the 2013 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, and wowed visitors with their sleek, all-white display that included just a nod to the Show’s British theme. During my visit to PURE, Michael showed me how to create their signature arrangement, one that can be customized with almost any combination of flowers. To begin, he added a layer of river rock to the bottom of a container that was ten inches high, four inches deep, and eight inches tall. He coiled in some fresh curly willow and added water. The rocks and willow not only act as the mechanics for holding the stems of the arrangement, but they also add a natural aesthetic for which PURE is known.
The shape of the design is created using stems of pittosporum. Michael removed all of the foliage that would be in the water to help keep the water clean. He packed in plenty of the greenery, so that the leaves would support the flowers. The pittosporum leaves are somewhat open and flat, making them the perfect background to the feature flowers. “Our signature arrangement is flower on flower–no fillers,” said Michael. “The green accentuates all of the other colors.”
Once the foundation has been created, Michael adds the flowers, working from the largest variety to the smallest. “Every order is different,” he said. ‘We don’t use a recipe and we strive for a lot of abstract designs. I hire artists who have their own visions, not your usual wire service designs.”
Michael incorporated nine stems of green hydrangea, stripping the bark from the lower part of the stems so that the flowers would take up plenty of water. Hydrangeas are known for their tendency to collapse, and stripping the bark helps to prevent it from happening. The hydrangea were evenly spaced throughout the vase, keeping everything at the same level.
Seven stems of orange dahlias were then added, followed by “Red Kansas” peonies. He added another shape element to the design with seven yellow calla lilies. “Callas can be manipulated by running your hand gently up the stem,” Michael said as he demonstrated how to make each stem arch slightly. Finally, he added purple campanula in the few empty spaces that were left. At this point, the arrangement was very full and the stems had to be carefully wiggled into the design.
The finished creation was lush, appropriate for a variety of settings, and easy enough for even the least-experienced home florist to recreate–now that we know the steps! The key is to start with the foliage, add one variety of flower at a time (from largest to smallest), and to keep everything at the same level. I’m thinking about trying it with white hydrangea, parrot tulips, pink roses, pale peach dahlias, and pink astilbe.
Thanks to Michael and everyone in the shop for sharing their expertise so that we can all have a PURE design. Can’t wait to see what you have planned for the 2014 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show!