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Southern Florist Recaps Biggest Floral Event of the Year – AIFD’s National Symposium

AIFD Imagine Symposium 2011Written by member florist, Shirley Carmack of Shirley’s Florist in Birmingham AL:

I have not been home from AIFD Symposium in San Francisco a week, and my head is spinning from the magnificent floral displays presented! Being a “white knuckle” flyer, it was a pretty big deal for me to get on a plane and fly across the United States to attend this — my first AIFD Symposium. I can not describe the excitement I was feeling by attending this event!

The theme of symposium this year was all about 60’s Flower Power. I am old enough that I actually lived through this era as a young teenager. The hotel, every restaurant, walkway, doorway, you name it was covered in flowers! Flowers were inside bookcases, stairwells, landings — even the back wall of the check-in desk was covered in foliage and anthuriums! I have honestly never seen anything like it.

Flowers at the Front Desk - AIFD Symposium

The first reception I attended, everyone was dressed in 60’s hippie garb. Tie dyed T-shirts and pants, denim and leather jackets complete with fringe, bell bottom pants, and flowers, literally everywhere. I was dressed in jeans, tie dyed T-shirt, leather sandals and peace sign earrings.We munched on brownies with a beautiful marijuana leaf stenciled on the top in sugar. It was so much fun!

Hippies at AIFD's Imagine Symposium

My first WOW moment was at the opening of the first presentation by Rene’ Van Rems AIFD. His program “Design Through The Centuries” was so beautiful and on such a large scale, I was just in awe of what I was seeing.

The presentation that inspired me the most was Pim van den Akker. His program was presented as a work-in-progress on stage. Some things had been started beforehand and were finished in front of the audience. Pim had great ideas and shared them with us. The work was AMAZING, and he is a great teacher. There is one picture of Pim with a display behind him that has orchids and foliage just dripping from a fringed base. The base is actually a plastic window blind that he had removed most of the cross pieces from and it looked like a very expensive prop. He used spray glue in much of his design work and that was very interesting to see.

Pim Designs at AIFD San Fransisco

The sweetest moment was after Bill Schaffer, AIFD and Kristine Kratt, AIFD did their “Event Flash” presentation. Bill got down on one knee, with a diamond ring and proposed to longtime partner, Kristine. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.

Bill Schaffer and Kristine Kratt Proposal Event Flash Photos

The main thing I learned from all the presentations is, I’m going to have to purchase and learn how to use power tools! It was unbelievable what these people could accomplish with tools and supplies purchased from a home improvement store.

AIFD was so inspiring that you could actually see the trends moving toward more sustainable items in big-event and everyday design. Most, but not all, presenters were trending towards bring the outside in. Lots of branches, trees, logs, things found in the woods and my favorite “roadsideia” was used in so many designs.

Orchids were especially big at symposium, and we were introduced to the new double-bloom lily and a true, apple-green alstroemeria. They were both gorgeous, and I can’t wait until these products make their way to Alabama!

“Imagine” AIFD Symposium was certainly worth the time and expense involved to attend this wonderful event. I plan on attending “Caliente” in Miami next July!

— If you’re a florist with a story to tell, we’re all ears here at the Bloomin’ Blog! Email us at social@flowershopnetwork.com and tell us about your recent trips, projects, or ideas.

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