From Music to Floral Magic to Foremost Event Designer for Stars
He started his working life as a high school band and choral director. Now he’s one of America’s foremost floral designers, creating floral magic for luxury events all over the world, and designs for the stars. To what does David Beahm attribute his success? Creating enchantment through visual movement. Avoiding the straight and standard. Choosing words carefully to describe the structures he creates. Believing every florist should emphasize safety first. Sparing nothing to keep flowers fresh—but using faux flowers where it makes sense. And, most important, he follows the golden rule.David shares with us his values, design thinking and tips he follows designing for events around the world—along with his favorite flower for large structures.
“If you are going to sell something, you must spark the client’s imagination and get them excited.”
Flowers flying through the air“I prefer not to use the term arch,” David says. “I think it has a generic connotation of been there done that. I use other descriptors such as swath, mass or flowers flying through the air to make it sound exciting and give it motion.” He feels it’s important to not buy something standard for the basic structure of his designs. “Usually anything on the market is straight up and down and doesn’t consider things like cantilever and opposite weights,” he explains.
“Flowers don’t grow solidly straight up and down–they move, flex, and stretch. Mechanics that move straight up and down lose this magic.”
Safety must come first!According to David, the biggest challenge in creating over-sized or overhead designs is working with physics for safety. He has most of his large structural bases professionally built because they must be unique and safe. For example, the two captivating escort card displays shown above and below had guests gathering around to find their place cards. “We have to assure that if someone bumps into them, they aren’t going to fall over,” he says. “I think that too many people in this business forget that safety must come first. Weights and loads on mechanics must always be considered. If you don’t, you could absolutely lose your business or end up in jail. Risking life or limb for a flower arrangement is just not cool.”
Keeping flowers freshOne of the major design challenges is to figure out how to keep flowers fresh in oversized floral structures. Many large pieces are designed at the last minute, which adds pressure on the design team and logistics. This usually means adding more staff. “That’s where people and talent come in,” explains David. “You cannot do large-scale arrangements by yourself.” A good water source is also essential to preserving cut flowers. “There is a trend to simply stuff greens into chicken wire and water-tube flowers,” he says. “I’ve noticed that if you do that, the life tends to go out of the arrangement very quickly.” “We’ve lost track of just how much Oasis (floral foam) and floral cages we use, but it’s the reason we are able to create the floral magic and have it last.”
Combining fresh and fauxDavid confides that he used to insist on using all fresh flowers. He now incorporates faux botanicals in some designs. Why? The larger the arrangement, the heavier the weight, the more the need becomes to have faux flowers in the backdrop or background. “It’s a simple fact—live flowers weigh a lot and in combination, it’s mind-boggling how heavy they can get very quickly. Again, safety first!”
Starting with the basicsFlowers were always a part of David’s life. He spent summers growing flowers with his grandmother in her garden while growing up in Luray, Virginia. “My godfather was a wonderful florist and I often worked in his shop,” says David. That’s where he learned the basics. While growing up, David always thought of going to New York but was never sure what would take him there.
Greater gifts to giveDavid experienced a variety of educational opportunities and jobs relating to musical theatre and opera. A stint as a band and choir director at Luray High School helped him realize he had greater gifts to give. He eventually arrived in New York City with a degree in musical theatre. “I moved to New York to be a Broadway star and haven’t auditioned since I arrived. As soon as I got here, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
Flowers, the best choice“Flowers seemed like the best choice,” says David. “I worked for a florist, helped to manage Seasons on 53rd and 8th, and then met party auteur Phillip Baloun who was looking for a head florist.” David’s varied job experiences in design and music taught him the value of hard work, creativity and the business side of retail and large-scale events. He started his own floral business, David Beahm Experiences. “A few years later, in 2001, I got the call to do Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas’ wedding. It was the first job to really put me on the map,” says David.
David’s favorite flowerDavid enjoys using hydrangea in large-scale designs because of the visual space the bloom fills, but suggests that any large flower can be great in the background. “It’s really important, though, to find airy and weedy elements to put on top of this so that the sculptures have a lightness and don’t look solid or heavy,” he explains. Visit David’s Instagram pages to experience more of his inspiring floral designs: @davidbeahm and @davidssnaps.
What’s most important for building a floral business?What does David consider most important for building a floral business that services an upscale clientele? “Customer service, customer service, customer service,” says David. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The biggest question is: would you like to be a customer of your business?” David suggests that floral business owners ask themselves these questions -
- What does your client see, hear, and feel?
- Do you listen to them?
- Would you like to receive your bill?
- Would you like how someone treats you in a consultation or even when you pick up the phone?