What Inspires You?: The Romance of Flowers

That’s something I learned studying interior design at FIT. I loved it, but I didn’t like sitting at a desk. I’ve always had a passion for nature. As a child, I would visit my aunt in California, and I remember being in her flower garden with these big, big cosmos above my head. I’m insanely tactile, I love working with my hands, and I love instant gratification. It all comes together in floral design. The Putnam & Putnam aesthetic is definitely romantic. There’s a sense of movement, an organic, alive feeling, as if it’s growing out of the vessel. And there’s always a sense of drama. Some of our favorite flowers are rare varieties of ranunculus from Japan, and incredible dahlias, some local and some from Holland. We also include more common stuff—yarrow, zinnias. Working with plants is like painting: the colors, the textures, how you layer them. We’re creating ephemeral art. The thing that makes me most excited is that it’s not just an object. You see it through all the stages, all the changes until it dies. It becomes a memory.
Michael Putnam and his husband, Darroch, are behind the floral design brand Putnam & Putnam, known for romantic designs that are deliciously tumbled and tangled yet perfectly balanced. Clients include Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Jason Wu, and Adam Lippes. The Putnams’ book, Flower Color Guide (Phaidon), featuring 400 species of blooms arranged by color, from pure white to purple-black, is a mix-and-match tool for painters, fashion designers, gardeners, and anyone wishing to create pleasing flower arrangements.