Using Unusual Materials: A Floral Warriors Guide

AIFD symposia presentation Donald Yim | OASIS Floral Products Can you use simple and unconventional items to create impressive floral designs? You can. Just call on your ‘voice’ and the floral warrior inside you. Chopsticks? Blown glass? Peppers? Metal? Wood? All yes. Present arrangements made from these materials onstage at the American Institute of Floral Designers symposium in Seattle this year? Yes again. This is what you can learn from Donald Yim AIFD: being a floral warrior and how to construct with unconventional materials. His embrace of unexpected but practical materials for modern floral designs have earned him international recognition—and time on the 2017 AIFD stage, where his presentation was called Materialistic. “I wanted to show the audience how to use practical materials in a high-style and inspirational way,” says Donald. “To share technical information for using everyday floral mechanics productively.” What does it mean to be a floral warrior?

Be a voice, not an echo

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Photo credit: American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD)

For Donald, being a floral warrior is living his mantra: Be a voice, not an echo. Learn from others. Show gratitude. And trust yourself. He even made armor from floral products and wore it onstage (details and photos follow). The creative director of West Van Florist in Vancouver, Donald is also an education specialist for Floriology Institute and a design consultant for OASIS Floral Products. He offers floral tips and techniques on his YouTube Channel.

Incorporating decorative accents

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Photo credit: American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD)

Donald is influenced by eastern and western cultures and his signature style is highly modern. “I use a lot of decorative wire and Midollino in my work,” he says. His stage designs featured:

Creative use of materials

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Photo credit: American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD)

Most people see chopsticks and think Chinese takeout.  Donald imagined an abstract floral design. He used OASIS™ Rustic Wire wrapped around a collection of chopsticks to create a wreath-like effect. He placed the armature (decorative or supportive framework) upon an overturned bowl in one design. For the second design, he used a board as his base atop a large container. He drilled a few holes in the board to secure the chopsticks and hanging glass tubes. He inserted the ends of the chopsticks into the board to prevent the parts from moving. He then used a low temp glue gun to glue the water tubes in place for the addition of fresh flowers.

Flames and volcanoes

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Photo credit: American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD)

“The AIFD stage gives an audience the opportunity to see products used, to touch and understand them,” explains Donald.” It’s much more practical to see a product used than to watch it online because you still have to know how a product is working or not working. When you see it online, it just always seems to work.” Sometimes, it doesn’t. Donald had that experience when he wanted a volcano effect for one of his interpretative designs. In his original design, “everything is tied together, but the glass tubes are fragile on the bottom so it’s just not working.” He made changes. He created the body of the volcano by wiring OASIS™ 8" Wire Armatures together and shaping the collection into a large form that he could attach to a backdrop. Donald then wired various sizes of the new OASIS Glass Hanging Tubes into the structure as a water source for the flowers inserted last. “The 20-inch tube will even hold a Heliconia!” he says excitedly. The two holes in each tube make it easy to attach them to a design using wire. To construct the red flames at the base of the design, Donald took different lengths of OASIS™ Mega Wire covered it in shipping Bubble Wrap, bound it in red yarn and bent the forms to add visual movement. “It ended up better than the original plan because tying the glass tubes into the design meant they showed more,” explains Donald. “The more design techniques you know, the better you can solve the situation.”

Did the floral warrior get an ovation?

AIFD symposia presentation Donald Yim | OASIS Floral Products The whole point of Materialistic, Donald said, is “to help people understand the specific use of the materials. During the presentation, he wore protective armor of 8" Wire Armatures and decorative wire. He told the audience that when people give of themselves to you, they help build the armor that allows you to go forward as a ‘floral warrior’ sharing your knowledge with others. “You come to AIFD thinking you are a good designer. You get there and meet great designers. AIFD taught me to be a better designer by learning from others.” He encouraged others to take that same journey. “I was so touched by the people in the audience that I couldn’t tell the story,” says Donald, thinking back to the closing moments onstage. “The people who gave me the help, experience, inspiration and shared ideas with me in the back room,” he continued. Luckily when words failed him, he shared a video. He included faces from across the floral industry that influenced his design. The audience responded with a standing ovation. How can you use your ‘floral voice’ for the inspiration of others?

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