How to Make Floral Arrangements—with Tips from Doan Ly
We love to add fresh flowers to our dining-room décor to make any table look instantly stunning. But arranging them in their full gorgeous glory takes an artful touch—something that New York-based floral designer and photographer Doan Ly has perfected.
Known for creating non-traditional designs, Doan has gained an avid Instagram following, and this year, landed big-deal museum exhibitions at the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan and Cincinnati Museum of Art. Next up? A book published by Chronicle due spring 2023.
Recently, Doan shared her magic to create beautiful arrangements for the Misette for Moda Domus The Primary Collection launch—and we couldn’t resist asking for a few of her top tips.
What are your favourite blooms to work with?
“It really depends on the project. Each flower, whether on its own or with other flowers, can serve very distinct purposes. Elements such as texture, color, and whether it’s graphic or has a lot of petals all vie for favorite depending on the occasion and design. But the short answer is garden roses or peonies!”
What’s your best advice for picking a nice mix of blooms for a floral arrangement?
“I love color! I love mixing saturated tones together with a mix of different sizes and shapes. I keep the designs airy, which is easier said than done. It takes a of technique to create that shape. I look for stems that are not stiff and straight—something with movement to add that sense of poetry.”
What do you look for when sourcing flowers for an arrangement?
“It depends on the design but it all has to do with movement, color, texture and size. I like to mix all that together for the best color story and shape.”
For total newbies, what are some of the fundamentals to follow to create a nice floral arrangement for a dinner table?
“Keep it simple! There is so much going on at the dinner table already. Invest in a statement vase and then get one type of flower in a bold color. Play with the shape. Let it be a bold pop of color and the flowers will do all the work for you.”
How do you choose the perfect vessel/vase for an arrangement?
“The shape of the vase really depends on where you are placing the arrangement and what you need the final shape to be. Is it on a mantel and front-facing? Is it on the table and needs to be low and wide? Proportion, movement and shape are all heavily determined by the vase shape. Is the neck narrow or wide? Is the body a low bowl shape or a tall cylinder?
That said, I’m an advocate for investing in a statement vase (it needn’t be big). With or without flowers, it will make a beautiful piece in your home. Misette for Moda Domus’s Primary Confetti Glass Vase is a perfect example.”
How can we max out how long our arrangement lasts for?
“Cut the stems at an angle to expose the most surface area to water. This helps the flower better hydrate. No leaves should touch the water, so be sure to strip all lower leaves. Bacteria from moldy, soggy leaves in the water shorten the shelf life of the flower. Keep your water clean!
Keep your flowers in a cool place away from direct sunlight. Most importantly, make sure there is enough water. Flowers drink more than people think. I often see droopy flowers because the water level is below where the stems can reach.”
Where do you look for inspiration for your floral designs?
“Inspiration comes from everywhere! Life, art, fashion, music, film. But I find inspiration most when I’m running. I’m not a good runner but it helps clear my head. It’s mainly about having a space where my thoughts and concerns are quieted, and for my imagination to wonder.”