Mysterious, gorgeous flower designs have been showing up unannounced around the city, only to be stumbled upon by New Yorkers delighted by their arrival. Slowly, the flowers are picked off by passersby until the city streets return to themselves, barely a trace of the abundant blossoms remaining.
The creative team behind the phenomenon known as the Flower Flash is Lewis Miller Design, a floral and event design group led by Lewis Miller. Miller first came up with the idea last year after searching for a way to feel more deeply connected to his craft, says Irini Arakas, the firm's director of special projects. After many long, therapy-like discussions, Arakas noted that no one had ever done guerrilla or street art with flowers. Soon after, five members from Lewis' team were up at 5am to make it to Central Park before dawn, flowers in hand. They reused dahlias and carnations from a previous event to create a psychedelic halo around the mosaic that reads "Imagine" at the John Lennon memorial. Soon, the internet erupted with joy, and the Miller team has been Flower Flashing us ever since.
Gifting flowers to the people of New York City. It's a simple idea that I've been knocking around in my brain for years... Read the full blog of how team LMD achieved it's first public installation of "Flowers for The People" (and this adorable pup!!) now on our website. Link in profile. #lmdblog #lewismillerdesign #randomactsofflowers #flowersforthepeople #giveback #peace #flowerflash
The project appeals to Miller because it's a "random act of kindness," Arakas says. "It's about designing on the fly, which is the exact opposite of what he does [at work]." Arakas scouts the locations, looking for a spot with plenty of texture to blend in with lush of the florals. "I'm a native New Yorker, and I do find [city streets] gritty, but Lewis has this unbelievable way of looking at the city because he's from Northern California," she says. "A sidewalk littered with bubblegum, he calls them polka dots, or the crosswalks, he refers to them as zebra stripes. He has a very romantic lens with which he looks at he city. I've adopted that mindset."
Oscar the Grouch staycations with the Royal Tenenbaums! Sumptuous flowers in popsicle colors for our first trashcan Flower Flash of the summer. #LMDxNYC #flowerflash #lmdwashere #flowersfornewyork #lewismillerdesign #277WestEndAvenue
Now, the Lewis Miller team has completed 40 Flower Flashes, and counting. The most recent one was on 73rd and West End Avenue, where a trash can was found overfilling not with trash, but roses and flowers of many colors. Arakas will usually stick around and watch as people stumble upon their creation. "They're really for commuters on their way to work," she says. "It's like seeing an exotic bird or a Bengal tiger, so out of the norm of what you'll see on your way to work. I stick around to see that reaction."
Since the success of the art project, the design agency has been asked to collaborate on many more creative endeavors, such as an activation Old Navy recently did for International Women's Day in which they decorated the five historical statues of women around the city with flowers. "I do think Lewis has started this urban beautification movement," Arakas says. "There's a floraissance going on."
See more pictures of the Flower Flash movement below.