NYC Designers, Event Planners Learn Art of ‘Tropical Nouveau’

On Monday, December 17, most shops throughout New York City sported a very similar aesthetic: evergreen boughs, twinkling lights, shiny baubles, snowflakes, etc.

But not Maison Gerard.

The high-end furniture atelier and gallery featured a decidedly tropical vibe for “Passion, Petals, and Purpose,” an event hosted by Designer Cut Flowers, a Miami-based importer of premium exotic blossoms from Holland and Guatemala.

The purpose: introduce their flower portfolio to the city’s floral designers and event planners, and educate them on one of the hottest floral trends: Tropical Nouveau.

“The brilliantly colored cymbidiums and birds of paradise were ready for their moment to shine,” said Marta Maria Garcia, Designer Cut Flowers’ owner and general manager.

Shine they did with the help of the design team headed by Rene Hofstede of Mille Fiori, who demonstrated the art of Tropical Nouveau. 

“These flowers were easy to work with,” he said. Hofstede. They were lush, colorful and the quality was outstanding.”

Spearheaded by Japanese-Canadian floral educator Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, EMC, founder of the European Master Certification program, Tropical Nouveau pairs traditional offerings like roses, hydrangeas, gerberas, carnations, and chrysanthemums with more unusual products (birds of paradise, tropical foliage, orchids or proteas, for instance), which many people associate with dreamy destinations, such as Hawaii or the Florida Keys.

“Think of it as the floral take on fusion cuisine,” said Neville MacKay, CAFA, PFCI, of My Mother’s Bloomers in Halifax, Novia Scotia, who has led Tropical Nouveau presentations with Gilliam. “Incorporating exotic flowers gives an arrangement dimension and interest, just like unexpected ingredients do for food.”

The chic style has an exceptionally high perceived value, seasoned designers say.

“Tropical flowers, often sleek and graphic, are perfect with modern décor, said Eileen W. Johnson, author of Tropical Flowers and the founder and creative director of FlowerSchool New York. “They are the flowers du jour for many stylish people. The flowers are usually long lasting and easy to work with for our students.  They are standouts in many of our arrangements.”

Research by Prince and Prince points to increased demand in the U.S. for cut tropical flowers.

“Consumer sales of tropical cut flowers are projected to exceed half a billion dollars in key markets such as New York this year,” Garcia said.

Throughout the event, guests had the opportunity to speak with the company owners and growers, including Jan Valstar of Holland and Jose Gonzalez of Guatemala.

Designer Cut Flowers are available to the trade only and ship direct. For more information, visit