Recently I paid a visit to Prudence Designs & Events to see their new space on 36th Street in Manhattan. I love their aesthetic … completely irreverent … but totally relevant. I’ve known the owners, Grayson and Arturo, for years (and Thomas who has worked with them almost as long)… In fact, Grayson is convinced that he and I were separated at birth, mostly because we find the same things beautiful and the same things funny (most jokes being at my expense). Known for their floral arrangements that break out of the glass-vase mold, they are also called upon to create events for the toniest of clients in the publishing and entertainment worlds. Watching Grayson in action as I have on several of his events, I am always amazed at his ability to win the clients with his energy and humor as they start to allow themselves to enter his world where creating an event is really fun, and, quite despite themselves, get completely caught up in the joy of the process, rather than the stress of the details. He is a master at making great things happen and making it look fairly effortless.
As impossible as it is to conduct a serious interview with someone whose main objective is to make you laugh, I did manage to get a few gems from him as I tagged along on his trip to “the market” to find some ideas for an upcoming shoot for Veranda Magazine. Here’s what we saw. Here’s what he said. (And what I thought.)
GH: There’s a lot of talk right now if the flower market will move, like to the docks or something…this is now prime real estate
KR: (It’s pretty amazing to walk off the concrete sidewalk and into these shops and find basically any flower, branch, vine… (or citrus fruit for that matter) you can think of.)
GH: The thing that is so great about flowers is that they are living and perishable. And you can only get them when they are in season. We have brides that come in and say, “I want my whole wedding done in cherry blossoms”. I say to them, “Then why didn’t you plan your wedding for April… rather than October?!”
KR: (Peonies are my favorite flower, and I love the fact that this photo I shot looks like a painting.)
GH: Peonies are the drag queens of flowers. They are all about the show. They just give everything they have… bloom full out. And then one day you walk by them and all their petals are on the table. They left everything on the stage.
GH: Hydrangea scream Mothers Day.
KR: What is Prudence Design doing for Mothers Day?
GH: We’re going to do our birch bark wrap container with “MOM” burned into the bark… like you carve your name in a tree; and we’re also using these great porcelain water pitchers as containers. When the flowers are gone, mom can pour out iced tea and think of her kids.
KR: (Wow, a walk-in flower refrigerator!)
GH: You know you can buy deli flowers and they die right away, or you can buy fresh flowers that have been properly transported and cared for. It’s like you can buy a suit at Today’s Man or Prada. If tulips are tulips, then suits are suits.
KR: (Love the heft of this old metal sign)
KR: (Scouting the flower market makes me hungry. An Italian deli? Really? —- LOVED it. It’s in Hell’s Kitchen — Sergimmo Salumeria on 9th Avenue)
KR: (Can’t believe we ate our veggie sandwiches with all this meat hanging over our heads.)
GH: Kim, this could be KRD’s next Holiday client gift if your business does really well! …That’s a lot of oil.
KR: (Hope you like this photo I took in your new space. Why are you so serious?!)
KR: (Everywhere you look in the Prudence shop there is a great mix of color and texture.)
KR: (Love this froufrou furniture with Prudence’s custom pillows. All the furniture in the shop is “found”… one-of-a-kind — which keeps the customers coming in…often.)
KR: You guys do a lot with interesting containers. It adds so much to the arrangement.
GH: Ellen Silverman (the photographer who shot the photos in our book) just had a show of her photography. She is known for her food photos and had just come back from Cuba, so we sent her flowers in a Cuban coffee can for the opening.
KR: (Love these little metal containers.)
GH: This is the container we are using for Mother’s Day. You know, people think that Mother’s Day is our big time, but it’s really Valentine’s Day. This is New York! …people come here to get away from their mothers. This is more like the Island of the Misfit Toys…
KR: (Arturo working on some arrangements for immediate delivery to an office.)
KR: (Scraps left behind on his work table)
KR: (“Thank You” bouquets bound for Bride’s Magazine)
KR: Most recent star-studded event?
GH: We did the flowers for Katie Holme’s birthday at Buddakan. Everything was white.
Wow, leaving the land of all things floral and fragrant, I thought to myself…never a dull “mum”- ment at Prudence Design.
(Sorry Grayson…. I had to!)