Meet Laura Daluga, the Newest Member of the Oasis Design Team

In May, Smithers-Oasis added fourth-generation florist Laura Daluga, AIFD, to its six-person design team, which leads educational programs throughout North America, breaking new floral trends and sharing knowledge and experience to help florists grow their businesses.

Deluga is a designer at Keller & Stein in Canton, Michigan, and owner of the Department of Floristry, a design studio in Ann Arbor specializing in events and corporate designs, floral sculpture and fleur couture.

“Laura brings a millennial perspective to design and education, and this addition will help expand the creative thinking for the industry,” said Kelly Mace, Marketing Programs/Communications Manager for Smithers-Oasis.

 Deluga spared a few minutes from her busy schedule to catch up with Florist 2.0 about what inspires her and what might come down the pipeline.

F20: Floristry obviously runs in your family, but when did you know this was the career for you?
LD: Floristry is absolutely in my blood, but as a child I loved to dance. For 12 years I trained to be a professional dancer, picking up a love of journalistic writing along the way. When my dance career was cut short by injury, I recouped with my family and found a love of flowers that had always been there, burning behind my other art forms. When I reintroduced myself to the industry, I started by attending the American Floral Art School in Chicago, where I put nomenclature to the ideas and concepts I’d always known and understood in floral design. Incensed by my new knowledge, I began devouring design books and magazines, especially Flora Magazine and Profil, they were my window out of the Midwest.
I traveled three times to Oklahoma City, to take intensive classes with the likes of Kevin Ylvisaker, AIFD, (now one of my Oasis Design Director compatriots), Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, and Els Hazenberg, who each showed me another facet of this art form of ours. Those intensive sessions, were to me then what AIFD Symposium is to me now, an incredible recharge, a shot in the arm. That’s when I knew I’d found ‘my people.’
F20: What have been some of your career highlights?
LD: One of my proudest moments was at this year’s Fleurotica, where our floral dress for the annual floral fashion event was a tribute to the effervescent Bobbi Blatchford, AIFD. She had passed not long before the event and I redesigned the whole piece, imagining what sort of design she might’ve made if she were with us. I ended up with an energetic, high contrast, asymmetrical LED-lit piece of floral fashion. With an awesome hat of course! Another proud moment was last summer when I found out one of my designs was selected to be included in the bi-annual “best flower book ever,” International Floral Art. I had submitted with zero expectations and was so happy to be included in such a well-known coffee table book!
F20: What are some unexpected places you find inspiration? 
LD:  I find a lot of inspiration in the avant garde couture industry, especially in terms of floral couture. Lately though, some of the linchpins of the couture world, namely Dior, have been working with fresh florals on a scale I’ve never seen before. Building whole rooms of flowers, mountains of flowers, catwalks of flowers has been a real treat to watch.
I also find a lot of inspiration in the sort of clinical, scientific approach Azuma Mokoto and the guys at AMKK have with floral design and public floral sculpture. Its unlike anyone’s work I’ve seen before. He literally put an incredible design up in the stratosphere, just to name a single project of his. I try and seek out those who are working with flowers in a new or unique way, or those who are working to put flowers in the mind of everyday people, like the “Floral Flashes” we’ve been seeing in NYC or the “Guerrilla Florist” in Missouri. Gotta love that out-of-the-box thinking!
F20: What are your favorite flowers and techniques?
LD: My favorite flowers are usually those I grew up seeing on the sets of Star Trek! Graphic flowers like pincushion protea, allium, gloriosa lily always top my list. A favorite design technique as of late is the “Linda Johnsson technique,” something I picked up from Joe Massie. It’s a handmade chicken wire technique that I use for the basis of bouquets all the time. I use it loads with decorative wire for interesting, visible mechanics. It can be as small or as large as you make it, which is part of why I love the technique so much, infinitely scalable.
F20: Any big goals for the future?
LD: Omigosh! I’d love to start up a floral design school here in the Midwest, like the one I attended when I was 18. That school gave me the confidence and fundamentals I needed to give it a go in a big downtown shop. And with all the schools drying up, I fear our industry will just fade away, and education is the best way to combat that. Plus I absolutely LOVE instructing.