4 shops make the case for artfully disheveled flower arrangements

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A starter course in untamed flower arrangements. Illustration by ZOE SABANDAL

Floral arrangements are testaments to every great occasion. Seeing a burst of color on a vase or a wreath can be especially meaningful now that we are experiencing a lack of nature’s best feature while we’re stuck indoors. And recently, more adventurous measures have been taken to make the simple bouquet standout as wildish, that is, appearing as though it came straight out of the garden.

Whether dried or fresh, the fragrance and symbolic weight of a flower remains unsurmounted — sometimes with a separate individual definition depending on kind: sampaguita for purity, orchid for fertility, gumamela for youth. Here are four merchants who are redefining traditional flower arrangements.

1. Akong Gugma

Originally swayed by the distaste of traditionally-engineered arrangements, Geof Gonzales of Akong Gugma believes in letting the materials speak for themselves. “When we let our intuition guide us, something serendipitous happens… it turns out more poetic,” says the designer, who initially worked in set design/styling. The exposure to set design was the motivation behind traversing the field of flowers, which he previously considered blasé.

While Akong Gugma’s wispy leaves and overflowing stems seem liberally manipulated, the objective behind creation lies in “creating something intangible by using forms and lines.” He states that “freedom is paramount,” a principal hypothesis that he instills into his non-traditional floral structures.

2. Bertie’s Bouquets

Bertie’s Bouquets benefits from its maker Roberta’s belief in “figuring out how you can bring out their best without making the arrangement look too labored.” A look at their instagram shows you a master class in arrangements that don’t look arranged, which is the current trend in flower arrangements. Her favorite components are “the more subtle, textural elements of the arrangement,” and begins each piece by envisioning the overall shape she’d like to build around. She credits her craft process to experience, stating that “as you get more comfortable, you overthink the placement of each flower less and less.” Her products are organic pieces we’d like our eyes to shift towards for a colorful midday uplift.

3. Zena’s

Living in Antipolo surrounded by nature,  the eponymous proprietor of Zena’s has an intrinsic penchant for nature’s beauty, and deems herself blessed to be surrounded by such. She says, “My mother would grow a lot of orchids in our garden then. She would be spending so much time in her garden taking care of her vandas, oncidium, phaleonopsis and dendros… I always ask her if I can bring the plant just for the day to put in a silver bowl or celadon bowl, I would add some stones and twigs to keep it stable.”

She says her favorite arrangements are free flowing, “simple, nothing contrived” and maximizes the materials close to her: wooden bark, twigs, wild grass and stones. Zena opts out of floral foam as it is non-biodegradable and instead utilizes chicken wire or stone to support the flowers, as she did when she was younger. She begins her craft process with an idea of the recipient — from age and favorite color to preferred location. Soon enough, the free-flowing architecture of her pieces begin to bloom from her mind to structural body.

4. Lanai

Lanai is a favorite for Filipiniana-esque lifestyle items. Lanai fashions a unique blend of fresh and fresh-to-dry flower arrangements, in which two fresh kinds, proteas, flower heads native to South Africa also known as sugarbushes and banksias, Australian cone-like flowers escape wilting and rather, dry beautifully. Arrangement-wise, they don’t necessarily follow any rules either, only choosing to go by what their customers envision for themselves. This uncommon decorative gesture may bode well for those who have yet to make a preference between fresh and dry.