Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
If you're interested in cutting edge floral design, the designer to watch is Catherinen Conlin of Wiggy Flowers.
Catherine Conlin, founder of Wiggy Flowers, hadn’t planned on being a floral designer. While following her creative intuitions, one thing led to another, and she chose to specialize in weddings and special events. She explains, “I was trying to be a poet, and living in the country when my sister called and said she was getting married.
“She and her husband-to-be were living in LA at the time and the wedding was in Chicago. I started getting obsessed about the décor and would call them every day. Finally her fiancé suggested that since they had money and no time and I had time and no money, they would pay me to do the flowers.
“I did the flowers for four more family weddings, went back to design school (I already had a Bachelor’s in Business with minors in English Literature and Art History), worked for a designer from Paris who had moved to the states and within two years was out on my own. I felt weddings were a way for me to get paid for my art.”
Concerning the kinds of florals she likes to work with best, she said, “I
love peonies, tulips, lilacs, quince branches, dogwood, all those ephemeral things. But I am always searching for new ingredients or new ways to use old materials. I love foliage and treat it as a design element.
“The foliage…if I use it at all…should be appropriate to the arrangement. I see it as as important as the floral choice and treat it with sometimes even more care as that is the underline to the entire arrangement. I love Dusty miller, herbs, vines…ohhhhh I love vines. These are elements for lush or romantic arrangements. But I also love tropical elements like reeds, monkey tails, variegated leaves for the more Zen-style arrangements. I am constantly searching for new elements.”
With her unique artistic approach, Conlin specializes in fine Euro designs. She explained, “Currently I am leaning toward the avant garde or post-garde, modern minimalism. art styles. But that doesn’t work for everything, and I still love romantic or Tuscan for the right environment, voluptuous, lush. But always using unusual ingredients to woo the viewers.”
Future plans for her website include adding floral coordinates for brides. She said, “We’re adding a line of custom linens for our higher-end brides. We’re also trying to get our brides to think outside the box—and I mean that literally. I’ve been doing glass squares for so long now I find it boring and repetitive. I’ve found other new sources for square vases that are more interesting and my clients like my suggestions. We’re also doing a lot of stones, submerged flowers, etc…but again, in new ways. The idea is for the work to remain fresh. There should always be something in an arrangement—even a classic one—that engages the viewer. I call that Joie. It’s sometimes undefinable what makes art successful, and that is the element. The undefinable thing makes one go ‘wow’!”
That was exactly my reaction when viewing the designs featured in her portfolio on the website. She has literally taken floral design to a new level.
The media has responded very favorably to Conlin’s work. She explained, “This month alone we are featured in a 10-page spread in Better Homes and Gardens’ Wedding Issue, and in the 7 x 7 Magazine. In Better Homes and Gardens, we got the inside cover next to and including the table of contents and the last lilac colored spread in the back. The only disappointment to that was they came to me with their ideas in place and wanted “Shabby Chic.” I said I would do it only if we could define the florals as “Vintage Romance” as the previous is not my style at all.
“Then in 7 x 7 we did a vintage bouquet with dozens of yards of double-faced satin ribbons with love knots and dangling old-fashioned spray roses like my grandmother’s bouquet from the 1920’s. Funny, both magazines went towards the vintage even though our work is mainly modern. The idea, however, is that we can execute the appropriate style for the appropriate occasion and venue and it is still our signature design. Grace Ormonde has asked for our work, but I am a boutique designer and not a factory, so since I choose not to have a public relations staff on the payroll, we don’t often send things out. We’ve had many of our events featured in The Knot and Wedding Bells.”
Along with her unparalleled success in floral design, Conlin continues to explore other creative outlets. “This month too, my band is releasing our first of three CD’s, so it’s a big month for us. The release is on February 24th at Linc Gallery in San Francisco. MP3s and info is on our website, so anyone interested in coming is welcome. The reason I mention that is that my design space doubles as a rehearsal space and I believe that I’ve succeeded in both endeavors at achieving my original intent of being a poet. The mediums are just less traditional than Blake or Dickinson. They are flowers and music.”