Flower Talk, With Ron Wendt Design

Ron Wendt is a floral enthusiast for all seasons—and all occasions, from weddings and private parties to New York’s largest and most anticipated philanthropic galas. His firm, Ron Wendt Design, offers full-service event and design production and specializes in the creation of sophisticated décor environments with the best in floral and interior ambience. Some of the firm’s esteemed clients include Cartier, Chanel, Swarovski, the School of American Ballet, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Ron Wendt Design is known for combining lavish refinement, a classic aesthetic, and a contemporary cutting-edge style to create unforgettable experiences.

This winter, when temperatures were still frigid, Wendt created an entirely original scene of paper flowers at the gala for the School of American Ballet. He consistently kept our hopes of a warm spring alive with posts on his social media feeds of some of the freshest blooms and flowers, then gave us something to really sing about with an elaborate ballroom scene of pure floral power at Memorial Sloan Kettering’s annual spring ball (even the step-and-repeat board, usually a drab display of logos, was brightened with images of teeming roses). With summer about to erupt into full bloom, Quest sat down with Ron Wendt to talk about his latest designs—and how we might all live with flowers on a daily basis.

QUEST: Earlier this year you transformed the David Koch Theater into a ballet set of its own for the School of American Ballet Winter Ball. There was definitely a nod to spring flowers at that winter ball, but they weren’t the usual flowers we’ve come to expect at galas and functions. Can you tell us about these special arrangements?

RON WENDT: This year’s approach to the Winter Ball was done with much more fantasy and whimsy. Our objective was to animate the space with geometric shapes and bold pops of color: a black-and-white striped dance floor, a polka backdrop, and hanging graphics. We wanted the guests to immerse themselves among a field of flowers. Now, we know to achieve that goal for a gala with live flowers is a bit unrealistic, so we did it by hand-making overscale paper blooms in vibrant hot pink tones—which held up to the dramatic architecture of the David Koch Theater Promenade, where the dinner for 450 guests was held.

QUEST: We loved your Easter shot on Instagram of the pink tree blooms. Of course, we have access to flowers all year long now, so what is it about spring that still makes it so special?

RON WENDT: Spring is always an exciting time in the botanical world, from the first hit of a daffodil to tulips to the dramatic arrival of the floriferous cherry blossoms—it never gets old, and it’s like being reunited with old friends who you always love.

QUEST: What’s your favorite flower of all time? Do you have one?

RON WENDT: If I were to ask a parent to pick a favorite child, they may have to review which one behaved the best that day. I can’t choose one because each flower offers something different—though I’ve always had a fondness for Italian muscari, also known as grape hyacinth: an innocent spring bloom that often touches my heart because of its simplistic beauty without trying too hard.

QUEST: What’s the longest-lasting flower or arrangement, for those of us who want to bring some of the outdoors inside now that summer is here and flowers are a daily part of life?

RON WENDT: That’s always a dilemma—how can I get this last as long as possible? I would suggest being mindful of the environment that you bring flowers into, not placing them in overly warm rooms, making sure the water is changed daily to keep bacteria from developing, which will allow the flowers to continue to drink and stay fresh.

QUEST: Can you offer us five tips on how to care for, arrange, and live with flowers—for events or for personal enjoyment at home?

RON WENDTH: (1) Do as the Dutch masters did: appreciate the single flower as a cherished bloom. Think of the days when the tulip was coveted and painted in all its stages. Don’t be afraid to let one flower dress your table or home in bud vases.

(2) Don’t be hesitant to use what your eye gravitates to; I don’t believe you should have strict rules on what works with what. Of course, complementary colors always add a more finished look.

(3) Find the beauty in greens—think, leaves—and grasses. Sometimes a modern statement can be achieved with just a collection of simple grass and no cut flowers per se.

(4) Flowers are alive; remember to check and fill the water levels daily.

(5) Lastly, don’t forget flowers are supposed to elevate your mood. Don’t stress about them—which just defeats their purpose—but enjoy them!

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