Floral design provides outlet for stress, teaches lifelong skill

Now that the school year is in full bloom, the Floral Design Club is putting petals to the metal.

The RSO was founded in 2001 by Dianne Noland, crop sciences teaching associate, and some of her floral design students. Ten years later, students still have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of the flower art form and industry with this RSO, from the basic principles of floral design to more complex and creative arrangements, said Victoria Wax, senior in ACES and president of the club.

At monthly meetings, members learn how to make different types of arrangements and work to develop a skill that can be used in their homes, businesses and beyond, said Alex Gwyn, junior in LAS and treasurer of the RSO.

Outside of meetings, the Floral Design Club gets together to make arrangements, corsages, boutonnieres and centerpieces for banquets, award ceremonies, luncheons and the like for organizations on campus, said Sam Kowalczyk, junior in LAS and vice president of the club. The designers are most busy during Mom’s Weekend, when they make arrangements for many events and also host a floral design competition, she said.

Members also participate in community outreach. Last year, the Floral Design Club partnered with the horticulture club to make arrangements for a retirement home, Gwyn said.

For some members, all of this practice leads up to one big event: the American Institute of Floral Designers National Symposium. Each summer, a few members of the club attend the weeklong event, and last year, it was in San Francisco, home to one of the largest flower markets in America, said Candice Miller, graduate student and advisor to the club.

The week starts out with a design competition, where participants are all given the same supplies and are challenged to create something unique.

“It’s amazing because everything looks different, even though you start out with the same thing,” Wax said.

Throughout the rest of the week, there are workshops and seminars featuring new techniques and up-and-coming trends in the floral design industry.

This year, the convention is in Miami. To help with the cost of sending students to the symposium, the club raises money throughout the year by designing for other organizations. They also hold an annual bulb sale, where bulbs can be ordered online and shipped directly to one’s home for a low cost, Wax said.

Member fees also help fund the trip, as well as vase sales to floral design students, who use them in arrangements for class, Wax added. A majority of the funding, however, comes from students’ pockets, she said.

The club is open to anyone with an interest in flowers — from budding designers looking to develop their craft to students just looking for a creative outlet and a little bit of fun.

For Wax, the club is a way for her to stay connected to her passion. Since her mom owns a flower shop in Tuscola, she’s been surrounded by flowers her whole life and appreciates the skill that floral design requires.

“It’s also a skill that you can use for all of your life,” she added. “It’s not just something you’re a part of during college.”

Gwyn said she joined the club because it’s a great form of stress release.

“Flowers make you happy … and there are no rules for how you make your design,” she said. “It’s nice to have a not-so-serious club.”