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Emily Thompson Flowers

Emily Thompson brings a sculptural element to all her floral designs. The Brooklyn florist, has quite an impressive portfolio of clients --including Michelle Obama. The down-to-earth Vermonter was raised to embrace rough and tumble beauty. After some schooling on the East Coast, she headed to California to study sculpture, earning her MFA in Los Angeles. Post-school, she moved back east to New York City and eventually launched her floral business.

In 2009 she opened her storefront in Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn. A visit to Emily's studio and shop is illuminating. One quickly gets a sense of her whimsical style. The studio is filled with antique vases, tangles of branches, vintage paper and more. In fact, what stands out are the relatively few flowers in the shop. For the most part, the workspace is filled with natural finds--berry, branches and wood. While it may appear that Emily's work is the result of long, ponderous walks in the country, in fact most of her materials are sourced from the Flower District. "I spend a lot of money to make it look like it these pieces came out of the woods," says Emily. For example, Emily uses quite a bit of driftwood in her work.

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"I focus on the textures of the materials as opposed to color," says Emily. When she's talking flowers she tends to talk in sculptural terms, "I like the character of each material to come forth in what I do,"  say Emily. Her embrace of form has captured the attention of taste makes.Seasonality is a consistent theme in her work. Right now you'll find early berries woven into her flowers as she attempts to "express the season." While she is focused on details, Emily is also ambitious. Rather than limit herself to tabletop arrangements, she has the vision and talent to take on large-scale interior projects.

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Her largest project to date was the White House holiday décor. The installation is an annual holiday tradition and Emily was brought in to bring in fresh ideas to the landmark. As the designer tells it, her mission was to "bring the outdoors inside." For Emily, that meant not simply relying on 16' fir trees. She and her team of florists put together an inspired series of rooms for Michelle Obama using a series of unusual garlands, and foliage to turn the East Room into a lush holiday space. The artist embedded moss and bulbs on the stones to create mini floral vignettes that nestled at the bases of the trees, windows and fireplaces. With a relatively simple color palette, Emily interpreted the season in a glorious and fresh way. Emily calls the job, "one of the most amazing experiences, we put in 16 hour days with no stopping, it was so meaningful and such a weirdly patriotic experience." (to see images of the White House, visit Emily's site)

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photos by KEVIN RYAN PHOTOGRAPHY, Brooklyn

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