A Floral Designer Creates Beauty - 27 East

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A Floral Designer Creates Beauty

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Floral designer Peter M. Krask will give a talk for the Southampton Rose Society on Saturday. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will give a talk for the Southampton Rose Society on Saturday. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday for the Southampton Rose Society. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday for the Southampton Rose Society. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

Floral designer Peter M. Krask will talk about his work on Saturday at a Southampton Rose Society event. CAROL DRAGON

author on Sep 16, 2016

It’s said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So while a floral arrangement generously adorned with tyke-sized orange Crocs might not be everybody’s idea of high art, it was a thing of beauty to celebrity chef Mario Batali, well-known for the orange Crocs that routinely adorn his own feet.

For floral designer Peter M. Krask, the Croc bouquet was just one—admittedly extreme—example of the way he integrates the quirks and cravings of his clients into his work. Another favorite is an arrangement he created for a baker “that involved wheat and grasses and things like that. The actual blooms were dinner rolls—that was a rather fun endeavor. If a bloom breaks off you can eat it instead of throwing it in the trash.”

“I’m not somebody who has a set look,” he said. “I prefer when things are collaborative, and I’m helping my clients to articulate their taste. People have a sense of what they like, but they may not know how to get there or how to express it. Part of my job is to figure that out.”

Mr. Krask, owner of Manhattan’s PMK Floral Arts, will bring his philosophy to the Southampton Rose Society for a talk on “Creating Beauty,” to be held on Saturday, September 24, at a private club in the estate section of Southampton.

With his creations seen by millions of viewers each morning on NBC’s “Today Show,” Mr. Krask is as close to a household name as any floral designer working today. Recognized by the American Institute of Floral Design, he has created the floral décor of the Lincoln Center Theater, and his work has appeared in The New York Times and US Weekly. For the “Today Show,” he handled the floral design for 14 weddings on the plaza at Rockefeller Center.

“That stands out in my mind from an organizational standpoint,” he said. “It’s an enormous space—two city blocks—and the interesting thing about working in a space that large is that it changes your sense of scale. Anything that’s small to begin with looks really small, so you have to adjust your proportions, but it also has to read correctly on a television camera. Putting those weddings together presented interesting challenges.

“The weddings were always held in September, when we’re moving into tropical storm season. And we’re always working a day ahead of the next morning’s show. We had one where a storm came in the day before the wedding. From 2 in the afternoon until 5 the next morning was the most unrelenting tropical storm I’ve ever had the misfortune of working outside in. Driving rain, wind, no protection from the elements. One of my crew members actually walked off the job. I’ve never had that happen before.”

Yet, somehow, in true show biz tradition, the show did go on. How? “Prayer and a lot of fishing line,” laughed Mr. Krask. He said one of the larger pieces actually collapsed under the weight of all the rain. “But with a lot of fishing line and some fast hands, you’d never know it. It stopped raining about two hours before the broadcast, and when the sun rose shortly before the show went live, it was on the most beautiful fall day imaginable.”

A self-described “city boy,” Mr. Krask said he can’t offer his audience advice on gardening, but said, “I think we share a similar set of questions. We are making something, and we want to know how to do that in a way that gets to the most beautiful results we’re capable of achieving. The arenas are different, but I think the process is similar.”

Asked to share the secret of successful flower arranging, Mr. Krask said it’s simple: Use more.

“People generally underestimate the amount of flowers they need—usually by about three times. A single rose in a vase is gorgeous, but a lot of them together is wonderful.”

And don’t just pack them in willy-nilly. “Use more flowers, and really pay attention to structure. You’re not just dropping stuff in a vase, you’re actually building something. Start with your greens to get your basic shape, and use more greens than you may expect; things with interesting foliage. Then the show flowers—whatever your statement flower is, the thing that’s going to pack the most punch, that’s usually the last element you’re going to put in.

“It’s all about relationships: You’re working with color and structure, and you’re working with texture and scale. The question is, how do those things relate together to make a total something? That applies to any kind of creative endeavor. A story has characters, but it also has structure and scale and movement. You need all of the elements to work together, and you need to pay attention to them individually.”

Once that beauty is achieved, there’s the reality in both gardening and floral design that the result is ephemeral. “There’s a kind of Buddhist element to it,” Mr. Krask said. “You’re working through a process to its finish, and then starting again. Meditators call that ‘beginner’s mind,’ and it’s a very human, beautiful thing. Flowers give us some respect for that—your work is never done, because there’s always the next one to be made.”

Mr. Krask will be speaking at noon on Saturday, and the talk is open to the public. Tickets are $100 per person. To sign up or get more information, email the Rose Society president, Jim Berkrot, at info@southamptonrose.org.

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