January 8, 2011

flowers for the w hotel

Recently Pollen had the opportunity to create a multi-faceted installation for the new W Hotel Austin Recruitment Center. Suzi captured the whole space amazingly well. I wrote an artist's statement to accompany the installation:

When I think of Austin, I think of the people: creative and friendly, down-to-earth but worldly.
My mind also goes to the physical landscape, a mix of lushness and desert, beautifully rugged
and unexpectedly abundant.

Creating an installation that reflects two axes (lushness and desert, creative innovation set against a sense of history) led me to interact with some of my favorite local suppliers. Jay at Desert to Tropics grows truly succulent cactus and succulents. I could wander his greenhouses for days and not see every amazing variety on offer.

A key component of my floral design philosophy is to incorporate more than just cut blooms, including all kinds of plants, mosses, dried materials, rocks and minerals. This creates a huge palette of interesting textures and shapes (why use the same standard botanicals when there are so many natural materials to use in a floral installation?). I was also thrilled to be able to acquire pieces at Uncommon Objects. Their tag line ‘raw materials for creative living’ couldn’t be more accurate. Steve Wiman and his vendors artfully curate a collection of vintage and antique items you can’t find anywhere else.

I love being able to mix components from these sources with some of the best international
floral product, like the orchids, hydrangea, and tropical leaves used here. By mixing all these
elements a story emerges: one of black sand evoking Texas’ mineral heritage, grapevine
root hinting at an emerging viticulture industry, horseshoes and antlers elevated from typical
props to symbols of luck and our spirit of enduring sportsmanship, respectively. The synergy of
this edited collection captures the sense of innovation mixed with history and groundedness
for which Austin is known.

Authentic materials are also key here. The W’s architecture and interior design rely on materials
like concrete, steel and glass. I’ve tried to use honest ingredients that work with and echo
that sense of modern form-meets-function (and adding some playful moments here and there).

With the typed text, displayed in the purple typewriter, I tried to capture some of what makes
Austin unique, as told by a few of the emerging and established creative entrepreneurs who
call Austin home. Guests and hotel staff are able to contribute their own stories on the gray