Mastering the Art: FlowerSchool

With locations in New York and Los Angeles, FlowerSchool is one of the world’s most prestigious centers for floristry and floral design education. Take a look inside an exclusive Master Class program focused on sustainability with Ingrid Carozzi of Tin Can Studios
FlowerSchool New York students work on the structure for a flower chandelier. Photo by Paul Brissman.

It’s a warm day, and FlowerSchool Master Florist Ingrid Carozzi has broken out the watermelon. But it’s not snack time. Instead, students in her workshop wrap the cool chunks of melon in chicken wire, attach them to larger structures, and insert flowers and foliage. Their objective: create a living wall and flower chandelier without floral foam—the goal of sustainable floral and event design

For any level of floral student, working with Carozzi is an incredible opportunity. Her sophisticated and wild aesthetic graces high-end events and major venues, including the New York Armory Show and the New Museum. Known for her focus on sustainability, she can execute a massive floral installation without floral foam—a convenient but environmentally problematic, plastic-based product—when others would shy away. 

Today, however, is considerably more low-key for the industry trendsetter and author of the best-selling book Handpicked. She spent the morning sharing the inner workings of her company, Tin Can Studios, with FlowerSchool students and taking questions. Now she’s rolled up her sleeves to work alongside them, walking them through her methods, coaching them through problem-solving, and pushing them creatively.

Carozzi attaches watermelon to a frame to create a hydrating base for a living wall. Photo by Paul Brissman.

“This is a typical program here at FlowerSchool. The creative process is a difficult concept to grasp and can only be done by a simulated ‘real life’ program like this.”
  Executive Director Calvert Crary

“Students learn best when programs are well thought out and executed by experienced instructors such as Ingrid. She is pure joy to work with and an incredibly accomplished business owner,” says Crary. “Not only is Ingrid one of New York City’s most influential designers; she is also one of our most outstanding alumnae.”

Instructors of Carozzi’s caliber are a hallmark of FlowerSchool New York, as well as its second campus, FlowerSchool Los Angeles, which opened in downtown LA in 2017. One of their master florists, Oscar Mora, is a beloved florist to Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Sarah Jessica Parker, and the fashion elite. Other world-renowned master florists on the school’s teaching roster include Kiana Underwood of Tulipina, Olivier Giugni of L’Olivier Floral Atelier, Atsushi Taniguchi, Remco Van Vliet of Van Vliet & Trap, Tayaka Sato of L’Atelier Rouge, Meredith Waga-Perez of Belle Fleur, and Emily Pinon of Bastille Flowers & Events.

FlowerSchool tablescaping design workshop
Abroad, FlowerSchool teaches programs regularly in Mexico, and takes groups on annual floral-focused recreational trips to Holland, Mexico, England, France, and Japan. Shown here: a FlowerSchool tablescaping workshop taught by Carozzi in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in collaboration with their local partners, Bunch of Flowers. Photo by Liz Brown.

Beyond floristry techniques, students also learn the business behind the craft. There are buying trips to the New York and Los Angeles Flower Markets, simulated client interactions as part of the Flower Shop Series and Wedding Design Series, and a photography and marketing program, all taught by working industry professionals. FlowerSchool is the only school in New York with a state license from the NYS Board of Education for career development in both floral design and event planning, and the school plans to expand its event design, photography, and marketing programs.

“The business of floral design is not just about the pretty. There are technical, logistical, and financial skill sets to learn.”
Meredith Waga-Perez, Co-Founder/Creative Director of Belle Fleur, and FlowerSchool Master Florist

Living wall in progress from Ingrid Carozzi’s class using sustainable mechanics at FlowerSchool New York. Photo by Paul Brissman.
Floral foam–free flower chandelier. Photo by Paul Brissman.

Back in class, Carozzi continues to coach her students on sustainability, one of FlowerSchool’s core tenets. It’s not only about alternative methods to using floral foam, such as watermelon, she says. It’s also about making conscious choices about the design process from the beginning, without sacrificing style. She shares some of the guiding principles she uses to make her business as sustainable as possible. 

  • Source local whenever possible.
  • Buy and use only what you need.
  • Test design mechanics and hydration techniques in advance.
  • Compost your organic matter.
  • Reuse and repurpose materials whenever possible.
  • Use sugarcane spray paint over toxic conventional spray paint.
  • Avoid bleached floral materials.
  • Use dried ingredients that can be reused.
  • Incorporate plants and other potted materials into your designs.
  • Use recycled and recyclable zip ties or Velcro ties over single-use plastics.
  • Invest in custom structures with built-in hydration systems that you can reuse over and over again.
  • Continue experimenting with hydration methods.

“We should always be experimenting to see how we can make something better. There are so many little things that make a difference.”
 — Ingrid Carozzi

Carozzi and students at FlowerSchool New York paint foliage with environmentally friendly spray paint made from sugar cane. Photo by Paul Brissman.

As students work through the techniques, the workshop buzzes with accomplishment.

“Ingrid has a wonderful way of explaining the goals of each part of an installation and coaching the students to execute the concept on their own,” says Barbara Mele, operations director of FlowerSchool New York. “There was built-in brainstorming time, which became a very enlightening conversation about troubleshooting and process.”

A workshop student practices Carozzi’s technique. Photo by Paul Brissman.
Roses and protea. Photo by Paul Brissman.

For her part, Carozzi is quick to note that teaching at FlowerSchool benefits her as much as it does her students. “Teaching here has allowed me to experiment with different alternative methods and test my designs, and I get to share all of these great techniques and resources with the students,” she says.

That watermelon trick? She first implemented it in a sustainability workshop at FlowerSchool Los Angeles, where the opportunity to test the floral foam alternative was as vital for her as it was for up-and-comers. “You need to know what you’re talking about in order to be clear with clients and manage their expectations,” she says. “Don’t experiment on the job!”

Another illustrious instructor, Lewis Miller, expresses a similar sentiment while teaching at FlowerSchool:

“Though I am technically a teacher at this institution, my inquisitive students teach me an enormous amount,” says Miller, who is president of his eponymous floral design firm and creator of the Flower Flash, an ongoing public art project that continues to surprise and delight New Yorkers and Instagram followers everywhere. “Teaching is a gift that keeps my pursuit of beauty and knowledge alive and well. And for this I am grateful.”

More Scenes from FlowerSchool

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An arrangement created by FSNY Alumna Summer Robbins of Summer Robbins Flowers at FlowerSchool's program in Mexico. Photo by Liz Brown. 
Another scene from FlowerSchool's Mexico program: Carozzi's tablescaping workshop. Photo by Liz Brown.
British royalty's go-to floral designer Shane Connolly, shown here leading a workshop at a FlowerSchool program in France, is part of the school's international team of instructors. Photo by Gemma Hart Ingalls.
“FlowerSchool uniquely offers students the opportunity to study with diverse designers from all over the world. And for those designers to meet each other too—each bringing his or her own particular approach or specialty to the table. It is like an eighteenth or nineteenth century saloon where ideas can be shared and developed—an essential part of an intelligent, creative approach to flower design.” — Shane Connolly
Flowers in an array of soft yellows are placed down the center of a long table set with a deep blue table cloth in a rich fabric, matching candle sticks, and blue-and-white china. A single yellow rose is placed in the center of each plate.
A FlowerSchool tablescaping workshop taught by Ariella Chezar in Amsterdam. Photo by Liz Brown.
Another scene from FlowerSchool's tablescaping workshop in Amsterdam led by artistic director, Ariella Chezar. Cake by Cake Atelier Amsterdam. Tabletop courtesy of Mar Decor. Linens from LaTavola. Photo by Liz Brown.
Tayaka Sato teaching
FlowerSchool Master Florist Tayaka Sato of L’Atelier Rouge. Photo by LIz Brown.
Kiana Underwood arranges flowers in a compote vase as students look on
FlowerSchool Master Florist Kiana Underwood of Tulipina. Photo by Calvert Crary.
Olivier Giugni
Olivier Giugni of L’Olivier Floral Atelier coaches a FlowerSchool student. Photo by Brittany Lenig.

By Terri Robertson and Liz Brown Media | Produced in partnership with FlowerSchool

Learn more about FlowerSchool.