Designing at Detroit Institute of Arts Museum by Sweet Pea Floral Designs

Growing up in Detroit my family attended weekly church services at a gorgeous gothic cathedral on Woodward Avenue one block from the Detroit Institute of Arts . Even then I sensed the respect, awe, and wonder that still surrounds the DIA.   When an opportunity to create floral designs for the DIA presented itself naturally I jumped all over it!!
www.sweetpfloral.com Sweet Pea Floral Design XL floral arrangement for the Detroit Institute of Arts DIA

This is a museum of epic proportions, among the top six collections in the United States with over 100 galleries, a 1,150 seat auditorium, an art reference library and state of the art conservation services laboratory.  Home to Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry fresco cycle and Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait.  It is so easy to get inspired here and so Crazy to think we almost lost it in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy saga.  

www.sweetpfloral.com Sweet Pea Floral Design XL floral arrangement for the Detroit Institute of Arts DIA
 I joined the Friends of Art and Flowers in 2012 after a recommendation from a florist friend.  FAF is a group started at the DIA in 1985 for the beautification of the museum.  The ladies and gentlemen who lead this talented group of designers are about the nicest people you could hope to meet and made me feel so welcome right off.  Each week we create 3 designs with a leader for each.  All of the designs in this post were lead by yours truly (and gleefully!!)
www.sweetpfloral.com Sweet Pea Floral Design XL floral arrangement for the Detroit Institute of Arts DIA
The above was designed for last spring’s Elizabeth Sikes Kuhlman Lecture This year the lecture/luncheon will be presented by Jane Godshalk on May 1st.  Jane will represent the United States as one of six international demonstrators at the World Flower Show in Dublin.
www.sweetpfloral.com Sweet Pea Floral Design XL floral arrangement for the Detroit Institute of Arts DIA
When I was getting started with these designs it was terribly intimidating.  They are so much bigger in person then they appear in photos and they take a LOT of flowers to look appropriately full.  On my first ever attempt I was so worried about having it look full enough from the front that I forgot to save flowers to fill in the back and ended up having to start over (oppsie). I guess I share this as my way of encouraging all designers to attempt larger scale work if they haven’t already… you can always take it apart and start over if you don’t love your first try!!
www.sweetpfloral.com Sweet Pea Floral Design XL floral arrangement for the Detroit Institute of Arts DIA
Honestly what might have sold me on joining FAF (besides my friendly team mates) is the huge gorgeous collection of vases they have in the floral design room located in the basement of the museum.  Every week we go in on Monday to clean up last weeks arrangement and drum roll please……… select our vases for this weeks designs from the candy shop which is their vase collection.
www.sweetpfloral.com Sweet Pea Floral Design XL floral arrangement for the Detroit Institute of Arts DIA
Unlike with wedding design I can pick the freshest in season flowers for the museum arrangements and let my imagination go nuts like with the above arrangement, I found the wild sage and various fall grasses and decided to wire up some ribbon to add the illusion of wind blowing the grass…. fun.
www.sweetpfloral.com Sweet Pea Floral Design XL floral arrangement for the Detroit Institute of Arts DIA
The above was an experiment with a gluing technique I learned from Francoise Weeks while in Santa Barbara this January with the Chapel Designers.  Maybe the first design that felt 100% like it belonged in an art museum.  Wasn’t sure how to display it so I just hung it below the weekly design like some sort of weird floral plaque (plaque: n. an ornamental tablet)
www.sweetpfloral.com Sweet Pea Floral Design XL floral arrangement for the Detroit Institute of Arts DIA
I can not think of a better volunteer opportunity and I am so grateful that I joined up and got right to it.  Designing on this large scale has taught me so much about mechanics, movement, texture and reconnected me to the city I loved as a girl.  
www.sweetpfloral.com Sweet Pea Floral Design XL floral arrangement for the Detroit Institute of Arts DIA
It has been a great place to tryout roses I’m considering for use in weddings, get a little kooky with designs that remind you of Dr. Seuss, and meet all kinds of kindred floral spirits.
www.sweetpfloral.com Sweet Pea Floral Design XL floral arrangement for the Detroit Institute of Arts DIA
Can’t wait until I get to roll my sleeves back up and add my little bit of pretty to the giant halls of masterpieces in this Temple of art.


Thank you, Holly, for sharing your story with us. I know I really enjoyed seeing all the pictures of your pretty floral designs, and I’m sure our readers enjoyed them, too. Sounds like a lot of fun getting creative at DIA!

Holly Rutt is the owner of Sweet Pea Floral Design in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Comments

  1. Those arrangements are definitely a piece of art. Just stunning!

  2. Beautiful, beautiful work!

  3. Holly, you are absolutely killing it! Wow!

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