Black Lives Matter Mural with Neva Sills

We treasure our ability to collaborate with both luxury brands and non-profits doing critical work in Chicago. Visionary enterprises like the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, ( DVLC), The Chicago Honey Co-op and IGrow Chicago redefine traditional efforts towards environmental and social justice, with deeply effective and inspiring demonstrations of what is possible.

When IGrow, a restorative justice peace campus in Englewood, asked us to produce a botanical installation for their annual fundraiser, we asked the brilliant painter Neva Sills to paint a mural. Neva’s work is both classical and timely, both of this time and of some grander, illustrious past now lost to us, perfect for the utopian tableau we envisioned for these heroic activists to be photographed in. Extending the mural out into three dimensional- sculptural hedges of moss we embowered the scene with fragrant chamomile, lemon basil and dhalias fresh from our own urban farm. IGrow’s vision: “A world where love lives in public. Cornel West said justice is what love looks like in public. We want to bring justice, hope, and love to all in our city and beyond.”

Neva Sills’ Black Lives Matter mural for IGrow Chicago

Farrow and Ball colour launch with Studio This Is.

We were honored to decorate a private dinner celebrating the launch of Farrow and Ball’s new colours this past Fall. The dinner was held in Marchesa restaurant’s private room, a space that feels like a secret escape into a Merchant Ivory film. I’ve been helplessly in love with Farrow and Ball’s unmatchable hues for years now, and had so much fun matching our farm flowers to their new colors. This lisianthus matched Rangwali, while that anemone aligned with Sulking Room pink and so on. Enter the remarkable Nancy Beale of Studio This Is, who made these images below. With an arresting mix of calm humility and ferocious talent she is a joy to be around and her work never ceases to take my breath away.

Rangwali inspired brown flowers by Cornelia
Cornelia McNamara flowers photo by studio this is

The beauty of blue and white

There is some indescribable perfection about the colors of blue and white together- some kind of boundlessly serene, clearing and calming vibration there. Living near such a large body of water as Lake Michigan, I always eagerly look to see what shades of these two are at play when I get on the outer drive, and always get a thrill when the water is paler than the sky.

Of course, green is a huge trend these days for weddings, with lots of brides wanting only greens or just greens with a touch of white. I always believe that my brides are ahead of the trend with their choices of wedding flowers and decor and that the direction their tastes move in always dictates design trends in fashion in home decor as well. It is their passionate focus on planning their weddings that makes them so attuned to whats next, and it’s fun to see the culture at large catch on to a color, fabric or pattern a few years after we’ve been working with it already! Chicago wedding flower trends are so similar to New York weddings in this way.

However, there really can’t be anything more classic than blue and white. Carolyn Rohem has an entire book on it! Although I have many of her books already, I don’t have this one yet. I’ll order it now and report back soon! In the meantime, we’ve been planting lots of white flowers on our Chicago flower farm, with dashes of blue in the mix.  Aren’t these white ranunculus to die for!?

Vosges for Valentines!

For Valentine’s day, we are ecstatic and honored to be partnering with one of the finest chocolatiers in the world, Chicago based Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Founder and Chocolatier Katrina Markoff has been on the vanguard of the food movement since 1998, and in many respects, the culture is only now catching up with her. Her chocolate is so indescribably delicious that I regard it as a wellness product, but you have to taste it understand what I mean, so please come to visit us at our studio pop-up Valentine’s day flower shop on Chicago Ave, to taste free samples.  You can pre-order flowers here, or pick them up in the studio on those days!  We will also be setting up a micro flower shop at the Vosges Haut-Chocolat Armitage boutique, so be sure to stop in and see us at either location on February 13th or 14th, 10-7!

Cupid Inspiring Plants with Love”, a plate from Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora (1807), Wellcome Library

Chicago Flower Farm

We’ve moved our flower farm to downtown Chicago! We lucked into this one-acre plot in late April, and have been scrambling to catch up all season. On our Chicago flower farm, we are growing dahlias, echinacea, hollyhocks, caucasian scabiosa, bee-balm, foxgloves and an extraordinary assortment of weeds, including the most potent catnip on the planet!
The idea is to maximize resources, to minimize the negative impact of shipping flowers from other continents and relish the rare beauty of flowers fresh from the field- so we made friends with the weeds and utilized them in our wreath making workshop at the French costume jewelry atelier Les Néréides with great results!

Style Me Pretty Feature

One October weddings from last year, photographed by  Kyle John Photography, was just featured on Style Me Pretty!  We were so lucky to have been involved in this wonderful family’s celebration of marriage. Because the wedding was in October, we were able to use lots of flowers from our farm, including lisianthus, dahlias, spray roses and plum foliage.  To see more images on our site click here, or for the Style Me Pretty feature, click here

Floral Workshop at Les Nereides jewelry

The French costume jewelry company Les Nereides has been boggling my mind for years now, inspired by both the floral and animal world,  they create strikingly original treasures, that seems to me to be deeply French,  irreverent, chic, inscrutable. The family that has been creating this wild finery for 36 years now, refers to it as *emotional jewelry*.  From the crazy-making levels of cute- a secret ring with a cat sleeping in a gold basket that opens to reveal a pair of tiny kittens inside- to the eccentric and opulent necklaces of their wild-life collection for 2017.- I’d pretty much like to rock all of it daily.  So when they asked us to host a flower arranging workshop at their atelier on State Street we said, “Yes, Please!”

Next Thursday, June 22nd, at the Les Nereides shop on State from 5-7 pm, come to celebrate the first day of summer with a free floral workshop where you can create fresh floral wreaths, sip champagne and see some sparkle!

Cake Walk & Studio Opening

For our new studio opening party, we teamed up with the charming Betsy Yagunic of Betsy Lou Bakes! Sharing the beauty and deliciousness of her artistry with our friends, colleagues, and clients was such a joyful way to herald the opening of our new space.  We had a classic Cake Walk with everyone walking around in a circle until the DJ stopped the music and whoever landed on the X won a cake… 6 lucky winners won cakes! ( actually just 5, I kept the fern cake for myself!) 

Sweets to the sweet! Here is our dear friend and collaborator Michael Thompson, purveyor of the what must be some of the world’s finest honey, from  The Chicago Honey Coop–  winning the first cake. He is trying to decide which to take while Betsy stands by, trying to remember which flavor is which… Michael later confided that he thought the DJ liked him and let him win on purpose!
Miniature matcha and chocolate cupcakes were enjoyed by all, especially me,  seen here with my face stuffed full of them!

Wedding in Marfa Texas

We did a wedding in the high desert, a town of Marfa, Texas last year.  200 miles from anywhere, this tiny,  West Texas town was settled in the 1800s. James Dean starred in the film Giant there and since Donald Judd began working there in the 1970’s it has become a contemporary art mecca. Here is a picture of the courthouse, built in 1886. Our lovely couple was married in its Cupola and below is the view of the main street from that bird’s eye view.

The reception was at The Capri restaurant and event space. For the tables, we did clusters of desert native foliage with hyperbolic peonies and ranunculus. Our insanely chic bride, Lindell Thorsen, pictured here in the Capri gardens, carried a bouquet of tumbleweeds and ranunculus and put us up in her fetching storefront on the main street where she sells Navajo rugs and other fantastic antiques. Her son, Laszlo Thorsen -Nagel shares the other half of the space and produces his stunning Sumi-ink paintings there. Stumbling out in the morning and shuffling to the Hotel Saint George for good strong coffee each morning was a sheer luxury.

Bees and things and flowers

Let’s bring on the sunshine! Last summer we got to do a fabulous rehearsal dinner in one of our client’s backyard … I love working with clients who are serious gardeners because they know how much work goes into the production of beautiful flowers and get as excited as I do about rare varieties of flowers and foliage.  This particular evening was especially fun to decorate because the palette was so of full sheer, summery, color. We employed lots of flowers from our farm including cornflower, chamomile and dahlias, nestled into moss lined french wire baskets.