Blogger: Jodi Duncan AIFD
As a floral designer, to be involved behind the scenes of the Philadelphia Flower Show is an amazing experience. Working with Bill Schaffer AIFD, AAF, PFCI and Kristine Kratt AIFD, PFCI is invigorating. This dynamic husband & wife design team consistently push the limits of design, creating concepts where many fear to tread. Their flower show journey has been well documented in their book “Taking The Flower Show Home” available on Amazon. You’ll find a beautiful comprehensive look from concept to creation (and a few quotes & pics of yours truly along the way). They are amazing floral artists, and they are my dear friends.
Taking a look at this year, however, they walked in with ʻbest of showʼ under their belt from the past 2 years. This couple was not afraid to take risks in 2013. They did not expect to win this year. They prepared the team: ”this exhibit will not win….but the story must be shared”.
This year’s theme was the British inspired “Brilliant”. Among all the whimsy & jaunty iconic British themes, over in a dark corner, stood “J A C K”…..not the beloved Union Jack, but Jack the Ripper.
I told you they were risky! They chose to tell the story of Jack the Ripper for the merit of the story itself, for the way it changed the culture of London’s Whitechapel in 1888. Women lost their lives in tragic surroundings, and positive changes were thrust upon society in the wake of those horrific events. The interpretation did not glorify the crimes, but was life affirming, taking what could be seen as creepy….breathing hope and affirming life, a springing up of beauty from ashes, a floral cry for justice, for perseverance.
Through emails, Bill & Kris begin to share sketches nearly a year before the event, drawing inspiration from everyday life, photos, movies, magazines, music, pop culture. I love when I see something from Bill or Kris in my inbox.
A portion of the flowers used came from Mayesh. Their wonderful product was featured throughout in stunning ways….the sansevieria, huge extra large succulents, caramel antique garden roses, the cymbidiums….all were all utilized in creative, clever designs that enhanced the overall aesthetic.
To walk the show floor before anyone has arrived and leave long after everyone has gone home, to experience the scope of forklifts, freight, loading docks, unions, security, climate….the whole environment is exhilarating and exhausting. I love being a part. This was my 4th year as a member of Schaffer Designs. To know that I am just one small person on one large team who assembles an exhibit of this scale, that just happens to be just ONE exhibit under the same roof as dozens and dozens of others…its mind boggling.
The love of flowers brings amazing people together. To come together for such a pure purpose is a wondrous thing. It’s a want-to, not a have-to. The flower show experience is just another benefit of AIFD accreditation. Without AIFD, I wouldn’t know Bill & Kris. It was when I was testing that we met. The purity of the flower show experience is so near & dear to me. I wish everyone could come, to see the height & depth & length that creatives will go through, just to tell a story. I am thrilled to play a small part in the story and to share it with flower lovers everywhere. From the 30+ volunteers that come, to those who donate flowers & product, what an amazing thing to be involved with. Without the generous support of sponsors & designers & friends, the concepts of Schaffer Designs would never make it past the paper they are drawn on. The support of the floral community, from grower to broker to wholesaler to hardgoods to designers is what literally brings the exhibits to life. For that I am thankful.
Don’t miss next year’s show! I’ve already talked to Bill & Kris…(we were already on to 2014 before we were even done with J A C K…) ARTiculture is next years theme for Philadelphia.