September 24, 2008

interview: susan fuehrer of lily true design

I'm so happy to introduce you to Susan Fuehrer of Lily True Design, a super-nice and talented floral designer living in Brooklyn. It's always fun to get to know the person behind the design, so read on... and visit her blog for more inspiring images. Thanks Susan!

How did you find your way to Brooklyn?

I was actually coerced into moving to Brooklyn - although I am so glad
that I did. When I moved to the city from a small east Tennessee town
five years ago, I chose the safest and cheapest rent offered in a
Manhattan neighborhood - the Upper East Side. Although I did love my
tiny apartments in that neighborhood, the UES never felt really like

Two years later, my husband, a furniture and lighting designer,
proposed to me on the Brooklyn Bridge (closer to the Brooklyn side,
which was his subtle way of hinting where we should live). After we
were married we moved to Park Slope, which is a really great
neighborhood. Brooklyn was definitely feeling more like home than
Manhattan ever did. Unfortunately, with all the trendy new shops
opening up on 5th Ave, we got priced out of the neighborhood and a
year and a half ago moved to Prospect Park South East (a developing
neighborhood). We are now two blocks from Prospect Park (which my
French bulldog, Giselle, L-O-V-E-S), walking distance to Ditmas Park
(a beautiful historic neighborhood of late 19th century and early 20th
century homes with actual gardens and yards), and a short bike ride to
most anyplace in Brooklyn we would want to go. We have a good-sized
two-bedroom apartment, which allows me to actually have room to
arrange flowers.

What lead you to become interested in floral design, and how did you acquire your technical skills?

I've always had a love for flowers that was ingrained in me ever since
I was a small child. My mother is an avid gardener, and on our hikes
through the woods when I was a child, she had me naming flowers,
trees, and other plant life. I have always appreciated the hard work
that it takes to grow a garden (I have done my fair share of weeding),
but always preferred working on the bouquet arrangements.
I went to school for interior design because I loved the blend of
technical and creative arts. I acquired my attention to detail and
craftsmanship from my schooling. I took and internship in the city 6
years ago and fell in love with the vibrancy, diversity and the
people. Once I graduated I knew I had to move to New York.
After a short stint at a hospitality firm, I decided to go back to
commercial interiors. I love the people that I work with and the
clients, but the work wasn't giving me the creative outlet that I was
looking for. When a coworker did the flowers for a mutual friend's
wedding, it sparked an interest. I bombarded her with questions on how
exactly she did this in New York, without much space and without a

A friend of mine was getting married in Brooklyn that following spring
and I had offered to help with the flowers she had planned to do on
her own (she didn't know what she was getting into). I started to
research care of flowers as well as arranging techniques online and
dove in. She had a pretty large wedding – 6 bouquets, 15 centerpieces
- and it took me a day and a half of arranging, and a lot of trial and
error. She was thrilled with the results, and I loved working with the
variety of textures and flora. Each event has been a learning
experience; I've refined my arrangement skills, learned new techniques
from books and friends, and become much more efficient.
Most of my clients are designers themselves, so I know that their
standards are pretty high and they have a lot of input, which can
really aid the creative process. Some of my clients want to browse the
flower market together, just to get a feel for color and texture. This
is also a great time to show how different textures and colors work

I think what I love most about floral arranging is the instant
gratification (especially compared to the 1-3 years of a commercial
interiors project schedule) – There are certain constraints, but I
love that after the planning process, and in three days you end up
with a beautiful final result.

What artists and designers inspire you?

I keep going back to one of my favorite designers for color
inspiration – Josef Albers. I have some reprinted books and his color
plates are really amazing. Always drawing on color combinations from
him. The other designer that inspires me is Hella Jongerius. Her
recent design work of textiles for Maharam are layered and garden
themed and the color combinations are beautiful.

I also read other flower and wedding blogs pretty regularly as well as
other design blogs. I think it is important to be aware of what
happening now. What's funny is that some of my floral design
inspirations are sneaking into my commercial interior work as well. I
love how design can connect such diverse fields.

What plant materials and color combinations are you finding particularly beautiful now?

I love the zinnias that I've been seeing at the farmers' markets. The
pinks, oranges, golds and reds are so vibrant and full of life. I'm
also looking forward to my next wedding in October that will be at the
Brooklyn Botanic Gardens (a great venue close to home). The color
theme is cream and pale pink with silver accents. I'm looking forward
to coming up with some creative ways to incorporate silver subtly into
the bouquets.

How would you spend a great day off?

I would probably bike down to Brighton Beach with my husband and dog
(she loves the sand between her toes) and watch the sunrise. Then we
would hit a farmer's market for fresh veggies fruits and a wild flower
bouquet. Then we'd probably meet up with friends and bike to the Red
Hook soccer tacos (yum). We'd then bike over to Van Dyke St have a
chocolate dipped key lime pie at Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies while
taking in the view of the city. We'd bike back through Prospect Park
and probably stop at the dog beach for Giselle to cool off. It would
definitely end with a walk through Brooklyn Heights and on the
promenade – the city lights at night are beautiful.

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