Dempsey & Carroll curator, Austin Ackles, sat down with Emily Thompson to discuss her work in floral design.
AA: The White House is the ultimate canvas and the work you did there was phenomenal! What venue in New York City has come the closest in excitement for you and how did you transform the space?
ET: One favorite was an event at the Armory in NYC, where we designed undulating meadows down the dining tables to spectacular effect. They were both intimate and expansive, which is a big challenge in that vast space.
AA: Your creations feel so exquisitely edified. What is the secret to making them look as if they’ve always existed?
ET: A great deal of the power of the designs comes from the choice of the most special materials, or the ones with the most interesting contrasts with one another. I love to choose materials that are represented in ancient art, as well, such as lotus blossoms, which immediately evoke an Egyptian papyrus.
AA: Your compositions have the serenity of a Japanese garden and the quiet majesty of a Chinese scholars rock. They are at once grand and understated. Are you inspired by Asian art?
ET: Very much so. I love to strip things back to their most essential components. My efforts are in service of displaying the deeper nature of each bloom of leaf, so I seek to find ways to bring that out and exaggerate it. I love ikebana, though I have never formally studied it.
AA: As you continue to chart your own course, what can we expect to see next in your exploration of natural materials?
ET: We are perpetually seeking new ways to bring the wilds of our landscape into the stark towers of New York, and to draw the eyes of the world to the delicacy and mystery of the uncultivated forest and meadow. We have some amazing projects planned but they are still top secret, for now.
Veranda Large Winter Arrangement by Max Kim-BeeAutumn Witch Hazel by Sophia Moreno-BungeLarge Arrangement by Ngoc Minh NgoEmily Thompson Portrait by Maria Robledo