Lewis Miller arranging flowers.
Photo: Francesco Lagnese

Lewis Miller

The New York floral designer is behind the joyful Flower Flashes that have been popping up around the city
Lewis Miller with his dog, Dutch Blue. Photo: Francesco Lagnese

From a trash can overflowing with sherbet-colored peonies, tiger lilies, tulips, and sweet peas to a cape of blue blossoms cascading over Wall Street sculpture Fearless Girl, Lewis Miller‘s floral arrangements began popping up in New York (and subsequently Instagram) in October 2016. “I’ve always been slightly tortured about how I could give back in a way that wasn’t just sending a check,” says Miller of his motivation behind the project which he calls Flower Flashes. “Also, I was feeling a bit bored after being in this industry for over 20 years and wanted something to rejuvenate me.”

More than two years later, the floral designer, who was appointed creative director of online flower delivery service UrbanStems, continues to be inspired by how much “authentic joy” Flower Flashes bring people, which motivates him to create more, in what he describes as, “a lovely loop.” It’s also become a major calling card for his business, which specializes in event arrangements. “I’ve been in business since 2002, and it’s been a good business, but my comfort zone is under the radar. I’ve never been, nor will I ever be, a big networker or self-promoter,” says Miller.

See How Lewis Miller’s Flower Flashes Come Together

We go beind the scenes with the New York floral designer as he prepares for a special Valentine’s Day Flower Flash.

Posted by Galerie Magazine on Wednesday, March 6, 2019

“When I was doing [my first Flower Flash], it was like, Maybe it’s complete stupidity and nobody is going to look twice at it because we see crazy things all the time in New York and it never registers, but who cares, let’s give it shot. Sometimes you’re engrossed in something, you don’t really see the ripple effect it has. It really takes on a life of its own, and that to me is what’s so fascinating about it.”

A Flower Flash needs to be a “combustion of joy”: “It has to happen when inspiration strikes. There is not a lot of prior planning. When inspiration strikes, within a couple of days it happens. It has to almost be guttural, so it has this exuberance and doesn’t read as overly perfect.”

A Flower Flash installed near the Consulate General of Poland building in New York City. Photo: Irini Arakas Greenbaum

It has to be ephemeral: “If it stays there and people take pictures, that’s great, but ultimately, I want it to be taken apart. It’s almost beautiful litter. I, as a person who works in flowers, forget what a luxury flowers are to take home. If someone takes a hydrangea or five stems of tulips or a cherry branch, and if even they get a day out of it, or two days, it’s a reminder that they saw this beautiful moment, this installation that was so fleeting, and then it trickled out.”

Artist Augustus Lukeman’s nymph sculpture in New York’s Straus Park is given a 20-foot floral boa. Photo: Courtesy of Lewis Miller Design

It has to stay authentic: “What really energizes me the most is that I’m using leftover flowers or flowers from the market that my vendors would throw out because they’re past their prime. Or I’m supplementing on my own dime, so I’m free to do whatever, and that’s really liberating for me.”

A Valentine’s Day Flower Flash at St. Vincent de Paul Church, an abandoned house of worship in Chelsea. Photo: Courtesy of Lewis Miller Design
A Peony Flower Flash on MacDougal Street. Photo: Courtesy of Lewis Miller Design

A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2019 Spring Issue under the headline Creative Minds. Subscribe to the magazine.

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