Behind the scenes at Flower House

Heather Saunders Photography

Heather Saunders Photography

Posted by Susan

Back in October 2015, I had the opportunity to participate in Flower House, a phenomenal floral art installation in an abandoned, derelict house in Detroit. Created by entrepreneurial floral designer Lisa Waud, Flower House brought together floral designers and artists from across the country who volunteered their time and talents to the project.  

Lisa lined up --literally-- truckloads of  of the very best U.S.-grown flowers and foliage and then set the designers loose to design flower-filled rooms before inviting the public to tour the house as part of its last ‘hurrah.'

The project garnered national press coverage, including prominent stories in the New York TimesWashington Post, and Martha Stewart, among others.  

After the exhibition, the house--which was waaaaay beyond repair---was then deconstructed and as many useable materials repurposed by a local nonprofit.  She now plans to transform the lot into a urban flower plot.  

Heather Saunders Photography 

Heather Saunders Photography 

Heather Saunders Photography

Heather Saunders Photography

Heather Saunders Photography 

Heather Saunders Photography 

I had created this "behind the scenes" post not long after I returned from Detroit, but, because of a glitch in our new website, I lost a big chunk of my story. Angry and frustrated, I walked away from the post, rather than try to re-write what I'd spent hours creating.  It reaffirmed something I've muttered more times than I'd like to admit:   Technology is great.  Until it is not.   

That day, it was not. 

But today is a new day.  And with the recent release of the gorgeous book by photographer Heather Saunders, Flower House Detroit, now is a great time to revisit and finally post the photos I'd wanted to share for so long.   

Flower_House_Detroit_Buckeye_Blooms
Heather Saunders Photography

Heather Saunders Photography

The book features designs that I created with my dear friend and uber talented floral designer Caroline Waller of Passiflora in Marietta, Ohio.  Caroline and I were "flower friends" through Instagram for a long time before we ever met in person.  Even though we grew up on opposite sides of the state, we discovered that we had a mutual friend. It was one of those classic "small world" moments when we learned that one of her high school friends happened to be one of my closest friends from college. We later learned it was just one of many random things we had in common.

When Caroline and I finally met in person at the very first Ohio Flower Farmer Meet-Up, we hugged each other like we had been BFF's for years.  The Meet-Up was the first of its kind in Ohio and all kinds of new flower friendships formed as a result. It was on that snowy winter day that we concocted a plan for a labor exchange. As part of our "trade," I offered to travel to Marietta to help Caroline with one of her big spring weddings and learn more about her beautiful design style; in exchange, she would come up to the farm in the fall to help with Buckeye Blooms' biggest wedding of the year and learn more about how we grow our flowers.

When I went to help Caroline in May, we stayed up late talking about flowers, doing "research" on Instagram and giggling like teenagers at a slumber party.  It was then that we first watched the Flower House promo video and immediately looked at one another and said in unison: 'let's do it!'

We were incredibly honored to be one of the teams chosen to participate in Flower House and we were both so thrilled to work alongside so many super talented designers who all came together to volunteer their time and talent to create floral art for each room of the house.

©  Laura McDermott 

©  Laura McDermott 

© Laura McDermott

© Laura McDermott

Heather Saunders Photography

Heather Saunders Photography

In one of many funny out-takes of this collaboration, Caroline discovered that the bed post branches were too big for her vehicle, so she ended up renting a large U-Haul van to transport them. Having the big van also meant that we could take even more flowers from Buckeye Blooms to Flower House to use in our room and share with other designers.

Heather Saunders Photography

Heather Saunders Photography

The focus of our room centered on a "flower bed," which represented what likely once occupied the room, and what will eventually grow on the lot after the house is dismantled.  To create it, we used a small bed spring I found in our barn and some branches that Caroline cut from native Ohio trees near her house to serve as bed posts.

© Laura McDermott 

© Laura McDermott 

© Laura McDermott

© Laura McDermott

Our flower bed featured a pillow made out of 'Cafe au Lait' dahlias, a canopy of hydrangeas, gomphocarpus, lisianthus and corkscrew willow, a bed skirt made primarily of ornamental grasses, and a tussled patchwork quilt draped over the edge of the bed.  Back in the day, quilts typically were made out of old clothes and scraps of material.  So, in a nod to this history, we utilized some flower 'scraps' --including dahlia buds, leaves and the side-shoots of mums to create the blocks of color in the quilt. We opted to leave the room's paneling exposed but added 3-dimensional swaths of color in a gradient from dark to light, which served to draw your eye toward the light streaming in through the open windows and the headboard of the bed.

Heather Saunders Photography 

Heather Saunders Photography 

Heather Saunders Photography 

Heather Saunders Photography 

'Cafe au Lait' Dahlia "pillow."  Photo by Susan Studer King 

'Cafe au Lait' Dahlia "pillow."  Photo by Susan Studer King 

          Susan Studer King 

          Susan Studer King 

               Susan Studer King 

               Susan Studer King 

There were a lot of laughs and a lot of great memories made over the course of the three days we spent in Detroit.  Some of those stories never made it to this space ($%*&! technology) but I'm sharing what I have and also direct you to check out the Flower House Detroit website and order a copy of the beautiful coffee table book by the same name