We try to teach staff members what every one of my designers knows: it’s all about the details.
I have always had an affection for flowers. Even before I became a floral designer, I had fresh flower service in my home, professionally changed every week. Flowers just finish off the décor in a way that nothing else can; they are alive, they add a certain brightness, a happiness, and they are a total luxury. No one has to have flowers in their home, but many of my clients will insist that they must. It’s an interesting paradox.
While I didn’t start out in this field, my background running Gianni Versace’s U.K. operations certainly helped hone my eye for style. After working with the supermodels in the early ’90s, I grew tired of the fashion world and came back to California. As a favor for a friend, I put together some floral arrangements for a party, and the career really snowballed from there. It seems that people could not get enough of my designs. It wasn’t a year later that the Four Seasons Los Angeles, which is known across the globe for its flowers, asked me to open my shop in the hotel. This was not a business I ever thought I would get into, but today, just nine years after creating those first arrangements, Eric Buterbaugh Flower Design can count many of the most prominent members of the city’s top industries as clientele, from movie stars and musicians to all of the Hollywood power players. I’ve worked on some amazing projects over the years, including Paul McCartney’s wedding in Ireland and Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday at Windsor Castle.
From our shop in the Four Seasons-which is much more of a workshop than your typical flower store-we’re constantly pushing the boundaries in floral design, coming up with new ideas for arrangements. We look at floral design more as an artistic expression, and most arrangements can be viewed as a piece of art. You don’t come here and pick A, B, C, or D out of a book. We take everything into account when making your arrangements, whether for home, weddings, parties, or anything.
So many flower shops just plunk the flowers in a plain glass vase, and while there is a place for that, especially in modern arrangements, I always look at the containers and the flowers as one single unit. When I began in the industry, I covered most of the vases in fabrics, crocodile skin, Swarovski crystals-you name it. It makes the entire arrangement look like one single item, but I don’t think it works for someone’s home service.
And one of my favorite things to do is do a weekly flower service in someone’s home. It’s such a personal experience; each arrangement is made specifically for that one space. When someone asks us to do a weekly service, I go to the estate to get a feel for the environs, to determine where the arrangements should be, how many we should create each week, and the overall style that will fit best with the décor. Sometimes, a simple flower arrangement placed beneath a work of art can bring out the colors in the painting in a way that nothing else can, and it is our job to spot that. Our signature style is clean, modern, and always very luxurious, but the arrangements, whether it’s a traditional home or modern one, always reflect the customer’s personality.
I often work with the client to pick out vases, or I am glad to use what they already have. From there, we have a few options: No. 1, we can create the arrangements at the store and deliver to the house. The flowers from the previous week are removed-vase and all-and the fresh flowers are left in its place. With this option, it helps to have two versions of the same vase. No. 2 is that we create the displays in the client’s home, although this is not my favorite option. It feels rather invasive to have designers clipping away in the kitchen! No. 3, if the client prefers simple arrangements or is very private, as many of our Hollywood patrons are, we can work with someone on staff, like the housekeeper, and teach him or her how to create and maintain the arrangements. We often have staff members down in our studio for floral workshops.
We try to teach staff members what every one of my designers knows: it’s all about the details. We were the first flower shop that used wires under arrangements; now that is common practice. Since many of our clients are in the entertainment business, they notice the smaller details, and those are our favorite customers-those who appreciate the painstaking labor that goes into creating this piece of art that is ultimately discarded after a week. Because, regardless of any insider tips I may give you, all flowers should be replaced once a week.
If someone is outside of the Beverly Hills or L.A. area, I can recommend a local florist, although I do believe we set the standard in the industry across the board. I welcome you to come into our shop to see some of the arrangements firsthand and see what could be displayed in your home each week. There is nothing like consistent flower delivery to ensure that your home is fresh, bright, and welcoming. And when it comes to entertaining, even more flowers are a must! I will be sure to go into that in next month’s column, because, while weekly flower service can make any environment feel alive, for special occasions, flowers can create the perfect, fragrant backdrop for an amazing experience.
Four Seasons Los Angeles
300 S. Doheny Dr.