What do you get when you combine a pair of artists with and fresh flowers and a bit of rock-and-roll aesthetic? Steven Bruce Design, a floral design company that believes no home, restaurant, retail venue, gallery, or special event can’t be jacked up with some truly memorable arrangements.
Owned by Melissa and Steve Bruce, Steven Bruce Design is the talent behind original floral décor for everything from the Guggenheim to the Vera Wang flagship store and Saks Fifth Avenue. They’ve also added a dash of elegance and irreverence to hundreds of weddings, and have been splashed across the pages of Well Wed, New York Magazine, Modern Bride, Vogue, Interior Design, and more.
The couple, who lives and co-designs in Stone Ridge, New York, looks to the country landscape for ongoing inspiration, as well as to music and abstract art. Melissa explains, “For Steve, inspiration often comes from jazz and other music. For me, it comes from dreams or visions of sorts.” Melissa also notes that rustic, eco-chic, and Victorian garden are currently the big buzzwords in floral design, and you’ll find lots of examples on their brimming-with-inspiration blog and Pinterest page.
Melissa and Steve are known for their unique vessels—English cloches (they were using them years before they became trendy) to cement spheres, recycled tires, burlap sacks, rusted aluminum cans, and even . . . figure skates? Melissa laughs. “You can’t reinvent the wheel in terms of how much water and flowers something will hold,” she says. “And we really like found objects. Barbed wire, rubber, aluminum—we can make sculptural art with these and flowers.”
It’s a striking mix of the urban and natural, hard and soft. While the couple designs plenty of traditional weddings and events, some of their favorite projects have included a vintage-carnival-themed wedding; a Victorian-inspired bride’s bouquet that mimics lace; a politically themed diorama for the Team Love Raven House gallery in New Paltz, New York; and a harvest arrangement that puts the spotlight on local fruits and vegetables. Here are a few of Melissa’s pro tips for putting together your own original arrangements:
1. If you’re on a budget, use items other than flowers to take up some of the space. Melissa says, “I don’t like to be too cliché, so I wouldn’t say, ‘Get a pumpkin,’ but I’d go to a local farm and get tomatoes on the vine, beans, and gourds, and cut colorful leaves and branches, like bittersweet.” (Bonus tip: if you use branches, smack the bottoms with a hammer to open them up. This allows water to be sucked in, making the branch last longer.)
2. Look to nature for unusual color combinations. A meadow of wildflowers, a woodland path strewn with leaves, and even a butterfly or other multihued insect will give you tons of ideas for unforgettable combos.
3. Check your local farm or flower show for in-season flowers—Melissa loves marigolds and dahlias for early fall.
4. Use your favorite containers, not just vases, as vessels. Melissa and Steve especially enjoy repurposing outdoor items, like terra-cotta garden containers, inside the home.