Known for enchanting floral “graffiti,” Flower Designer Lewis Miller Is Sought-After for everything from weddings in Aspen to Parties in Venice.
By Samantha Myers
Photo ©Don Freeman Photography
Usually Lewis Miller’s beautiful flower arrangements can be found decorating exclusive events for his clients, which include the likes of Chanel, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Vogue. But recently, Miller’s stunning designs have been popping up throughout the streets of New York City — beautifying city landmarks and otherwise unappealing trash cans in what he has coined “Flower Flashes.”
Despite his firm’s East Village location, Miller has not abandoned his country roots. “I’m living the closest thing to a country lifestyle in Manhattan,” Miller jokes of his situation — but it’s this specific city-meets-country aesthetic that has resonated with high-end clients enough to establish his firm as one of the premier floral powerhouses in the entire city.
Born and raised in California farm country, Miller developed an appreciation for nature at a young age and eventually moved to Seattle to study horticulture and landscape design. “I grew up as a farm kid and was always surrounded by flowers and growing things,” says Miller. “Then, it translated into floral design.” In 2000, Miller brought his discerning vision of country life to New York City, and worked for a successful floral boutique before launching his own company only two years later: LMD New York, Lewis Miller Design. “I have always loved growing flowers,” he says. “I love the immediacy of floral arrangements, and especially the effect they can have on a space.”
Beyond his roots, Miller’s inspiration comes from homes and gardens — “from the bucolic English garden, to the most formal,” he says. If versed in art history, one can also recognize the immediate influence of fine art on his designs. In fact, his book, Styling Nature: A Masterful Approach to Floral Arrangements (2016), which is filled with painterly photographs of his organic creations, discusses seventeenth-century Dutch still lifes as an influence.
“Art and painting are huge sources of inspiration for me,” he says. “The color, energy … sheer gut, visceral reaction it can give you. Whether it be a super modern, sloppy wet painting, or a really rich, sexy masculine Caravaggio, or a precious Flemish still life.”
The bulk of Miller’s work comes from creating arrangements for events — from travel and destination weddings in Aspen or the South of France, to cocktail parties for exhibition openings at The Met, to birthday parties in Venice. “We are primarily a social event business, but we do a select amount of corporate work,” explains Miller. He has decorated perfume shoots for the Italian luxury label Bulgari, and provided floral designs for an American Express Top 200 Member soiree. “My clients are not about the flash,” says Miller. “They want it to be gorgeous and inviting and warm, but they don’t want to look like they are spending the money. It needs to look completely organic.”
One of the more memorable celebrations Miller has worked on was a black-tie wedding at New York’s famous Katz’s Delicatessen, with a guest list donned in furs and tuxedos. “I had to do that one really quickly,” he recalls. “But I love doing things fast. So many things can take such a long time — you can excruciate over it for months, but it kills the energy.”
Flower Designer Lewis Miller
Photo ©Lewis Miller Design
To satisfy his love of immediacy, Miller has recently found an unexpected fusion of flower design and street art through his “Flower Flashes,” which has garnered immense, positive media attention. “I love art when it’s sort of one simple idea and it’s just done. And it’s there for whatever reason, and it’s not overly thought-out. As much as I love the country and fresh gardens, I love street art,” says Miller.
Using leftover flowers, Miller and his team complete these acts of floral graffiti at random spots throughout the city, thus earning him the nicknames “Banksy of Flowers” and the “Florist-Bandit,” among others. “It’s ethereal. It’s there and it’s gone. People take the flowers, and I like that. I want to see how it gets destroyed. People love flowers — you put a flower in front of them, and they are going to take it.”
“Doing something where no money is attached is really liberating,” Miller adds. “When you’re doing it as a gift and to brighten up someone’s day. Someone will walk around the corner and see the flowers and it’s so freeing. I had no idea it was going to blow up like it did.”
When it comes to describing his arrangements, Miller often uses the words “lush” and “sumptuous.” But when articulating overall style, he has crafted a definition with help from his clients. “You know, somebody once said that they were not only gorgeous, but also masculine gorgeous,” he says. “It feels rich, but completely unassuming. Thought-out, and abundant and inspired, but nobody feels like it was slaved over. Whether it’s a handle of weeds, or anything, I use it — it doesn’t have to be the most precious flower in the world.”
While Miller’s favorite kind of flower changes with the season, some of his choice ones include a Black and White French Anemone, fragrant garden roses and Black Hollyhock.
Photo ©Lewis Miller Design