Get us in your inbox


Renegade florists have been creating stunning bouquet installations in NYC trash cans

Written by
Jillian Anthony

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.

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

A post shared by Lewis Miller Design (@lewismillerdesign) on

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.

Photograph: Irini Arakas
Photograph: Irini Arakas

Photograph: Irini Arakas

Photograph: Irini Arakas

Photograph: Irini Arakas

Photograph: Irini Arakas

Photograph: Irina Arakas

Popular on Time Out

    Latest news


      The best things in life are free.

      Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

      Loading animation
      Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

      🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

      Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!