Designer Spotlight On… Olivier of L’Olivier Floral Atelier
This month, we sat down with Olivier Giugni, the avant-garde inspired floral designer behind New York City’s L’Olivier Floral Atelier. Olivier has created custom designs for events, weddings, celebrities, and hotels. With notable clients such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harry Winston, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and more, it’s no surprise Olivier’s designs are considered the haute couture of floral creations. “For Frank Sinatra’s 70th birthday party at the Waldorf Astoria, we transformed the ballroom into a trattoria,” says Olivier on one of his most exciting event moments. “The tables were red and white checkered and included floral elements of amaryllis and olives.” Another standout moment happened at a recent wedding, where Olivier and his team created custom bird cages crafted of rattan wood and mixed blooms. “During the reception, several doves were released from the cage and flew around the cake for the audience before neatly returning to their perch. It was so exciting, we didn’t know exactly what was going to happen!” Another memorable event for Olivier was last September, when “we held the first event at the newly renovated Rainbow Room. We loved being able to transform the beautiful space into the 1930’s El Morocco nightclub with zebra print linens, white canvas palm trees, white and green floral arrangements and portraits of the guest of honor created from different, interesting, and hardy flowers.” says Olivier.
Olivier pioneered the now famous leaf-wrapped vase. Growing up, Olivier got his start at Les Fleurs de Maxims, working alongside legendary fashion designer Pierre Cardin, a role that would later shape Olivier’s future design aesthetics based around beautiful haute couture, architecture, and interior design. “I was self-taught, so being surrounded by Pierre Cardin’s dresses, which were very architectural, led me towards the design sensibilities and focus I have today.”
“30 years ago, I was the first designer to use green exotic leaves to wrap the flowers and vases. Before, in the flower industry, people were using different types of greens, like fern, baby’s breath, and other types of fillers. The idea of using leaves was originally to put them in the vase so we didn’t see the water getting polluted, but then I realized how beautiful it was as a design element. So it originally began as more functional, but then became a trend.”
To re-create Olivier’s leaf-wrapped vase in your home, he suggests that you select a firm, sturdier leaf. “You can either purchase oversized leaves from the flower district, or cut leaves from a large house plant in your home or right outside. Before filling with water, bend the leaves firmly against the glass vase and then slowly fill the vase with water.”
Olivier resides in New York City, where he runs his atelier. Calling The Big Apple his ‘adopted home’, he notes that his style is continuously evolving with the city’s personality. “By nature, I am a very adaptable person so I think the energy of NYC does have an influence on my designs. I love all the different colors of Aluminum Wire from Jamali Garden that we wrap our flowers and leaves with. It reminds me of jewelry, like bracelets and rings that are delicate and elegant. It is a simple touch for arrangements. But you will still always see signature elements of my background in each and every design, such as touches of exotic leaves. These have always remained constants in L’Olivier designs over the years, in a more or less prominent way.”
At the end of the day, Olivier notes the importance of attention to detail in floral design. “We devote our time to even the smallest details in each arrangement, details our clients see and notice. This includes everything from the freshness of the flowers to the unique style of the designs. The most important thing for me is my clients’ happiness and to see a smile on their faces when they see our arrangements for the first time.”
As Olivier says: “Les couleurs c’est la vie!” (Life is color and color is life!) Versailles Rose Bouquet: Elegant and simple, this is a classic European-style, hand-tied rose arrangement.
To learn more about Olivier, pick up a copy of his book, Living Art: Style Your Home with Flowers. The book is prefaced by Catherine Deneuve and takes a journey through Olivier’s unique flowers and arrangements, and includes a ‘how-to’ section for recreating his most iconic arrangements.