• UO Studio Visits: Wild Vase

    From a garage studio in LA, Alice Goldsmith creates art from nature. Her beautiful, California-influenced arrangements are inspirational reminders of the power of bringing flowers and nature inside, and the way she puts everything together, mixing textures, colors, and scent...well, it's pretty genius. Alice's work is part of Space 15 Twenty's Local Made Gift Shop this holiday season, with her wreaths, planters, ferns, and terrariums up for grabs at the LA shop. We're especially excited about her wreaths, which play on the traditional idea by adding in special pinecones, cacti, feathers, and foliage. We caught up with her about her background, favorite flowers for winter, and how she put together her first floral crown as a kid on the T-ball outfield. 
    Photos by Juliette Cassidy

    Can you share more about your background and how you first got into floral design and styling?
    I was lucky to spend a lot of my childhood outdoors, playing with plants and climbing trees. More than anything, the luxury of a childhood spent in the wild has shaped my floral design practice. My first floral crown was made during a T-Ball game when I was designated to the outfield. A baseball player was lost that day, but a floral designer was born.
    I started Wild Vase in the summer of 2013 after a production job came to a natural end. I wanted to work with my hands, and I’ve always loved working with flowers and plants. I thought it would be a summer activity while I applied to “real” jobs, but soon it became clear that Wild Vase could succeed as a small business (with a lot of love and help from friends and family).

    How did growing up between LA and England shape your style today? 
    I spent part of my summers each year in England with my mother’s family; but my childhood home (where my parents still live) is in Monte Nido, a small neighborhood in Malibu Canyon. The landscapes are remarkably different, but both offer so much beauty and natural abundance. I like to mix the lushness of big blooms with seasonal foliage I can gather in my backyard in Silverlake. I want the arrangements to feel rich and full like an English garden, but made with seasonal and local flowers that have a California vibe.
    Since I have so many good memories related to flowers and plants, I try to represent them in my arrangements through scent and touch. For instance, most of my arrangements have something like mint, sage, or eucalyptus—something that will hopefully remind you of a special moment in the outdoors.

    What are some of your favorite flowers/natural materials to use in putting together arrangements for winter? 
    In the winter, I love making holiday wreaths that are made mostly from juniper, pine, and cedar (my studio smells so good these days). I try to add foraged touches like pinecones and cacti that I can find on my own. I’m lucky to live in Los Angeles, because there are amazing flowers year round. I find myself using a lot of protea flowers in the winter, as they grow well here and make a serious statement. And FYI: Home Depot will let you take home their Christmas Tree trimmings if you ask nicely. The bits of Fir look and smell incredible.
    Can you talk more about the idea of flowers being part of everyday life (rather than a luxury)? 
    I definitely believe flowers and plants should be a part of everyday life. One of my goals at Wild Vase is for my design to feel like you are just bringing the California West inside your home. In my own home I value small vases of fresh flowers and herbs, and I’ve filled my living room with plants. Farmers Markets always have a wonderful selection of seasonal and local flowers, as well as bundles of herbs like sage and mint. If you add 5-10 dollars to your weekly budget, you can have fresh flowers each week. I also think everyone should have something sweet smelling by his or her bed, like dried eucalyptus, fresh roses, or a lavender satchel.

    Tell us more about your amazing studio space! 
    I transformed my garage into a studio space last winter which took a few weeks of work and so many gallons of paint (and the lives of too many spiders). Winston Morris of Dusk Designs [editor's note: a fellow designer who will be part of the Space 15 Twenty Gift Shop] designed and built the perfect worktables.
    I keep some of my favorite gifts and books in the studio also, like a cheesy sign from my father that says, “Never, never, never give up” and the photographer Taryn Simon’s book An American Index on the Hidden and Unfamiliar. I also have a collection of pressed and catalogued wildflowers, with the date and story behind each one. My favorite is a pressed Columbine flower from the San Gabriel Mountains.

    Tell us something we don't know about floral styling. 
    Floral styling is more difficult than it looks. You are taking something already so beautiful (fresh flowers), and if you position them incorrectly you can actually make them look worse than when you started. You don’t want to commit a crime against nature!

    Follow Wild Vase on their website and Instagram, and shop Alice's beautiful work at the Space 15 Twenty Local Made Gift Shop this holiday season!