breaking bread

What Inspires Floral Artist Maurice Harris?

Breaking bread with Maurice Harris, the founder of Bloom & Plume. Take a look at his advice on how to make impressive floral arrangements of your own.

What Inspires Floral Artist Maurice Harris?
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Meet Breaking Bread, Brightland's new editorial series that will foster dialogues with creatives, makers and artists who inspire us. Our first installment features Maurice Harris, a Los Angeles based artist and the founder of Bloom & Plume, a bespoke floral design studio located in Echo Park. He designs floral installations for global brands and high-profile clientele including Chrissy Tiegan and Ava DuVernay; runs a community coffee shop; and is the creator, producer and star of a new Quibi show, “Centerpiece”. We had the pleasure of sitting down with him (socially distanced!) at his studio and spending some time with him and his sweet standard poodle.

How do you describe what you do?
I would describe myself first and foremost as an artist, which has been a hard won title for myself. Funny enough I went to art school and graduated with an art degree, but I didn’t think that it was a sustainable way to live a life. I’ve been doing flowers for a long time and I’ve always thought of it as an art practice, but I wanted to play with a medium that hadn’t been looked at in a fine art context.

What drew you to the art of floral design? When did you make your first arrangement?
My grandmother was a big creative and she made church lady hats and she also did a lot of arranging. She did all of the flowers for all her children’s weddings. My grandmother has always played a role, and my mother, in flamboyance and extreme creativity and putting things together, specifically around flowers. That was something I was naturally drawn to because I saw it as a kid. It wasn’t anything I thought to pursue, per say, but it was something I enjoyed. I would play all the time - I even remember in 5th grade I would make arrangements for my teachers, out of the stuff from my yard. It just kept finding me, so eventually I leaned in and here we are.

Where do you find inspiration for your current flower arrangements?
The people that I make for play a huge role. The world around me - I am very sensitive and very intuitive. I really take my inspiration from everything that is around me, so I feel my way through everything. I have to meet the client, I have to go to the space, and let those things speak to me.

What flowers are you excited about for fall?
Mums mums mums. Daisies daisies daisies! I love them. I think they’re coming in really interesting colors now. I love the look of earth tones - when a flower looks very much alive but is in a beautiful brown or burgundy, it is really cool. A pop of yellow!

What are your top 3 tips for people at home looking to create arrangements, especially for the fall?
Keep it simple. Trust your intuition. Let go - if you’re trying to do something with nature, let it do its thing. Respect the materials. That is my number one tip to the world: Let it go, girl.

What dishes currently nourish you?
I drink a lot of smoothies. My green smoothie is the bomb. Spinach, celery, carrot, cucumbers from my garden, a little Serrano pepper from my garden, raspberry or blueberry, a quarter of a banana, frozen mango, and it depends - sometimes I’ll throw in an apple or an avocado. I’ll mix things up, but that’s the base. I made a delicious dressing the other day that was really good and went well with my veggies. It was lemon juice, a little lime juice, tahini, and a ton of cilantro. It was so good. One of my signature dishes is my cedar plank Chermoula-rubbed salmon. I love Harissa, I love Chermoula, I love those spices, so I was like “What can I put this on?”. I’ll do vegetable rubs with it, olive oil, a little lemon, and grill it. Mushrooms that way are so good, too.

Where do you get cooking inspiration (certain cookbooks, sites, etc)?
I just joined Purple Carrot and I’m super excited about that. Their recipes are actually really good and interesting. I got inspired because last week I was at a friend’s house and we used it. I remodeled my kitchen and I want to cook more but I don’t, so this makes it a little easier.

I used to watch a lot of Rachael Ray 30 minute meals, which do not actually take 30 minutes, and a lot of Food Network, so I learned to cook through osmosis or something. I try not to watch a lot of TV anymore, though, because I’ll get sucked in.

My friend Christopher - his Instagram lately since Coronavirus has been so lit. He cooks every day and it’s so beautiful, he is Barefoot Contessa. My friend Khatira is also an amazing cook.

What does “living in a golden state” mean to you?
Living your best life. Being grateful and happy for what you have, the way you have it, when you have it, how you have it. I may not be able to see rejection for what it is in the moment, but usually my life has worked out the way it's supposed to and I’m super grateful for that. I think if more people leaned into that, you would be able to look at the glass half full, which I think is living in a golden state.