Last week, Jacob McCall, AIFD, competed against 25 of the world’s top florists in Berlin for the Fleurop-Interflora World Cup, the industry’s preeminent design competition held every four to six years. (Consider it the floral Olympics.)
Participation in World Cup is by invitation only and competitors must have already been successful in competitions or shows and exhibitions at an international level. FTD selected McCall to represent the U.S. due to his impressive design competition credentials and his passion for positively promoting floral artistry through his role as a member of the FTD Education Team, work at The Elite Flower in Miami, Fla., and involvement with the American Institute of Floral Designers and the Society of American Florists.
We caught up with McCall to find out what it was like to compete on the international stage.
KH: Did you spot any design trends from other countries/cultures while you were abroad you plan to bring back to Ft. Lauderdale?
JM: Of course natural organic designs are always trending. However I did notice a focus of lots of color and interesting color combinations. Orange was the really hot color this year; almost every competitor used it in some way.
KH: How many design competitions have you been in? Which have been the most memorable?
JM: Gosh — hundreds at this point in my career! My most memorable is the World Cup. It’s like the Olympics of floral design. Years of competing, winning and tailoring my craft led to the ultimate design competition on the world’s stage.
KH: Do you remember what inspired you to start competing?
JM: Yes, a mentor of mine (Len Morgansea, AIFD) pushed me to do my first competition. I’m so happy that he did that because it honestly has led me down an amazing journey to meet worldly designers, learn trends, share my knowledge and, of course, make some of my closest friends!
KH: What do you do in the weeks leading up to a competition to get your head in the game?
JM: PLAN! I start it not weeks but months prior to the competition. I practice and play with flower combinations that will work for the creations.
KH: How do you stay calm in the heat of the competition?
JM: This one, fortunately, is very easy for me. I’m one of those people with a poker face, I guess! When I compete, I zone the world out and focus on the task at hand.
McCall may have been the only American competitor abroad, but there were others in the audience. Pittsburgh florists Jim and Linda Ludwig were there, cheering him on. The couple, who own Jim Ludwig’s Blumengarten Florist, won the Berlin trip through FTD.
Linda Ludwig called it the trip of a lifetime. “FTD has contests all the time, for free vases and such, and I enter all the time and never win,” she said. Her first reaction was astonishment; her second, “How can we leave the shop in the midst of wedding season?” (The shop has done close to 25 weddings in the past five weeks.)
Fortunately, her staff and part-time helpers banded together so the Ludwigs could travel.
“I’m so grateful,” she said. “We had a wonderful time touring Berlin and watching the competition.” The contestants created some “truly cutting edge” designs she would never have seen otherwise.