• UO Summer School: Floral Arrangements with Sophia Moreno-Bunge

    Warm days are here and UO Summer School is in session. From tech how-tos to apartment DIYs to recipes and wellness, we’ll show you how to do it all. Don’t forget to do your reading, we’ll see you in class. 

    Get schooled, spring floral edition, as we dive into the art of floral arranging with LA florist Sophia Moreno-Bunge (@wafflesoph).
    Photos by Chantal Anderson

    Can you introduce yourself and share a bit more about your work + background? How did you start doing what you are doing, how has it evolved to what you do today?
    I work as a floral designer; I have my own, small company and do flowers for events, shoots,  stores, homes, and for fun, most importantly. I started doing this when I lived in New York City, a couple years after I had graduated from Barnard College; I had had a range of odd jobs, working for a sculptor, a divorce psychologist, some restaurants, and was looking for something that was creative, that used my skills and background in art and photography, and something, I now realize, that involved plants and healing. I read an article in the New York Times about a floral artist and sculptor named Emily Thompson— I knew immediately that I had to work for her. I wrote her, interned for her for 3 months, and then worked for her for about 3 years.

    Can you explain a bit more (in your own words) of what ikebana is?
    Ikebana is the disciplined art of flower arranging that originated in Japan. The way I see it, ikebana places emphasis on shape, line and form, and of course, the inherent beauty and harmony of nature; it has an important spiritual component, and while I do not know about this in depth, I do feel that creating intentional, thoughtful and minimal arrangements creates a sort of meditative and calming space for me, and for those who experience these arrangements. 

    While ikebana arrangements can often look very minimal, a lot of thought and precision goes into making each one; there are often strict "rules" involved in the making of an ikebana arrangement. 

    What are some of the principles of it?
    One important competent is the use of empty space as an essential feature of the composition, and a sense of harmony among flowers, materials and container. 

    Can you guide us (loosely) through the steps or your thought process in putting together an arrangement?
    While I do not create actual ikebana arrangements — I do not adhere to the rules nor do not know them all — I am very inspired visually by its minimalism and use of negative space and harmony:

    • I think a lot about creating different heights in my arrangements, creating balance and often times, asymmetry. 

    • I like to let the materials guide me: the shapes of branches, how they fall and curve, and decide what they want to do. 

    • I like when stems reach, and pull, and guide your eye from one area to the next. 

    • I'm also very inspired by Wabi-Sabi, an aesthetic concept that informs my work, the materials I use, and my love of the perfectly imperfect; the appreciation of materials and objects "as they are," so to speak. 

    What resources you suggest if someone wants to learn more about ikebana?
    I would suggest looking up a class in your area- there are ikebana teachers everywhere. To learn about wabi-sabi, I suggest Leonard Koren's book, Wabi-Sabi for artists, designers, poets and philosophers.

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