In this busy, challenging world, many of us have to be reminded to stop and smell the roses. To pause, take in the good, and relax in a moment of appreciation. Sure it’s a cliché, but for floral designer Lewis Miller it’s tangible and powerful. It’s a way of life and an art form. One that’s brought him great success in his design house LMD New York, which he founded in 2002.
For Miller, the lure of the blooms business was cultivated by a youth spent on California farms, and the many generations of family members connected to gardening. “I would say starting at the age of 7 or 8, I knew that flowers would be a real and meaningful part of my life,” he says. “But it wasn’t until I went to college for horticulture that things began to click into place and I seriously began to consider the business of flowers and working in the industry.”
Being a sought-after designer brings international acclaim and high-profile clients who are headliners in the world of fashion, design, photography, art, politics, and architecture, but his unofficial work may be making the biggest impact.
In 2016, Miller began his “flower flashes,” repurposing truckloads of flowers from his events, hitting the streets in the middle of the night to rearrange them into surprising works of art. “Happening upon a six-foot-tall geyser of sunflowers on a grimy sidewalk in New York City is equivalent to seeing a Bengal tiger or a peacock on a subway,” says Miller. “You are forced to stop and look up and react. Our mission from day one was to gift New Yorkers flowers and to put a smile on their faces.”
It’s an idea with a broad appeal that has gained Miller lots of attention, and he’s started putting together flower flashes in other cities. But the heart of his effort is really quite simple: Share the joy.
“I am in the business of fantasy and flowers, but my services are for a select group of fortunate people,” he says. “If we can change the shape of people’s days for the better by creating something surprising and make people smile the way they do when they witness a random act of kindness, then we have managed to do something really special and magical.”
As for what sparks floral joy for Miller? He is not opposed to skipping the flowers altogether and using only foliage and greens, or featuring the less exotic. “I am probably the one florist who also embraces the ‘unloved’ flowers,” says Miller. “I am a huge champion of the carnation. Many people think they are cheap, drugstore flowers but I love them. They smell of cloves, they have a high petal count, they are beautiful companions and play supporting roles to roses and other show-stopping blooms. I also love gladiolus!”
Miller will discuss his work at The Paramount Theater on November 8 at TEDx Charlottesville, and on Saturday, November 9, he will teach a master flower workshop at Montalto.