Event Design

Flower Power

How do aesthetics and production design affect how attendees experience an event?

Laura Dowling, the White House’s new chief floral designer, has to think about flowers every day. (The lavender bouquet pictured at left is from her website.) A recent profile in The Washington Post discusses Dowling’s (and Michelle Obama’s) penchant for “official flowers in a ‘looser’ garden style” — and suggests what a presidential administration’s notion of beauty can say about the administration itself:

Flowers from previous administrations can look dated in years to come, just as first ladies’ dresses often do. An Eisenhower-era state-dinner photo shows rows of stiff pyramids of that 1950s favorite, the pink carnation. Jackie Kennedy brought more relaxed arrangements in a decidedly French style. The Nixons are pictured at an informal family dinner (ties for the men, headband for Tricia) with a big ball of daisies and yellow mums in the center; it looks like an old FTD special.

Do you use flowers at your meetings — as centerpieces or stage dressing, or in some other capacity? Do you see them as an integral part of the message you’re trying to communicate? Or are they just something pretty to look at? Then again, as this month’s cover story suggests, there may not be any such thing.

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.