Top event designer David Stark shares creative floral ideas for fall. His secret? Put foliage front and center, enlist interesting vessels, and look high and low (think hardware stores!) for inspiration.
LEAF UP YOUR BOUQUET
"I don't see foliage as solely a 'filler' between the blooms," says Stark, who lavished attention on leaves in this distinctive clutch of verbena, dahlias, plectranthus, autumn ferns, and several varieties of heuchera. Using plants can also be a huge money-saver. "One large fern, for instance, can provide more bang for your buck than a dozen roses."
The Details: Mokuba New York 25mm moire ribbon #1400, color 13 (212-869-8900).
USE POTTED PLANTS CREATIVELY
To create this verdant escort-card table, Stark first composed a carpet of foliage by nestling potted plants together, including golden feverfew, golden pineapple sage, Australian sword fern, lysimachia, tiarella, and geranium. Then he perched on top of it a copper stockpot filled with both potted plants and cut elements, such as waxflowers, andromeda, hydrangea, autumn fern, blueberry, kiwi vine, passion vine, and bugbane.
The Details: Ruffoni hammered copper stockpot (williams-sonoma.com). Assorted plants from Gowanus Nursery (gowanusnursery.com).
CONSIDER UNCOMMON MATERIALS FOR ESCORT CARDS
"The act of getting your seating assignment should be something memorable," says Stark. With that in mind, he chose copper garden stakes instead of printed paper. He wrote with a ballpoint pen, pressing firmly on the malleable metal, to imprint a name and number on each tag.
The Details: Bosmere plant markers (Dorothy Biddle, dbsretail.com).
Sure, there aren't as many blooms to choose from in the cooler months, but other "floral tools," as Stark calls them, can be employed. For this dapper boutonniere, he gathered autumn fern with a cutting from a blueberry branch and slipped them into a tiny copper tube (hobbylinc.com).
TRY UNIQUE VESSELS
Arrangements don't always need to be dense affairs. "Give them some air so that each specimen can be truly appreciated," says Stark. Then go for intriguing containers. For this centerpiece, Stark chose copper pipes -- basic but brilliant plumbing supplies that are available at hardware stores -- and polished them to a glow with copper polish. (Have the store cut the tubes to varying heights.) A velvet corduroy tablecloth offers a soft counter-point.
The Details: Cerro copper pipes, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter (homedepot.com). Wolf Home "Pura" velvet stripe fabric in old rose (Silk Trading Co., 212-358-8800). Mauviel mini cocottes (surlatable.com). Mauviel mini cocottes (williams-sonoma.com for stores).Mepra "Due Ice Oro" flatware (lekkerhome.com).
MEET THE EXPERT
If you want a planner with imagination to spare, David Stark, of David Stark Design and Production in New York City, is your man. He's known for repurposing everyday objects into exquisite decorations and masterminding events -- from weddings to charity functions -- that have a point of view. For this story, Stark, who likes to think of event design as "large-scale paintings," was inspired "to walk the line between drop-dead beautiful and unusual," he says. His book, "David Stark Design" (Monacelli Press), is in stores now, and this fall he launches his second holiday collection with West Elm.