Flowers of Blue Bottle
The florists who make our cafes beautiful
Like our single origin coffees, hand-picked flowers have the ability to call the present moment into focus. That’s why, for us, the flower arrangements in each of our cafes take on a significance greater than their beauty. They’re as expertly crafted as each cup of coffee, but unlike an espresso, beholding their unique and fleeting character is a moment to be shared.
We’re reminded of the story of the sixteenth-century Japanese tea master, Sen no Rikyū, who once had a garden filled with morning glories. A shogun invited to an early morning tea was greatly disappointed when he arrived, for all of the flowers had been cut down. Perplexed, he entered the tea room and saw one pristine blossom, still wet with dew, in a bamboo vase. Rikyū had removed the garden so that the Shogun’s sensory world would distill into singular experiences: one flower, curls of steam above the hot water, and sips of carefully brewed tea.
We try to do the same in our cafes, retaining only the most inspiring elements so that good coffee and conversation are at the center of the experience. Here, we shift our attention away from the usual coffee preoccupations to admire the talented floral designers who enliven each of our cafes.
Bay Area: Studio Sen
Sayaka Wada creates otherworldly arrangements that are painterly in their precision and defy gravity. Bursts of saturated color that appear floating in space have, more than once, evoked momentary rapture. While we are in awe of her formal compositions, we were especially excited to learn of Sayaka’s long relationship with coffee. Her father’s small cafe and roastery in Japan was Sayaka’s favorite childhood place. Quiet and yet lively, she came to love the scent of roasting coffee beans and cups brewing one at a time. The very idea of a cafe has significance for Sayaka as a place to read, write, imagine, meet friends, and of course, to enjoy a cup of beautiful coffee.
Her flowers, and words, come to life below.
I find wonder and beauty in plants. I try to bring out the particular beauty I see in each plant using imagination and experiments.
I go to the market every day to look for flowers that speak to me that day. A lot are grown locally, but others come from all over the world.
Nature, music, encounters with people, love, anything people put their heart into—these are things that open my heart and enhance my sense of things.
I hope my work creates a moment for people to stop, even for less than a second, and feel the slightest sense of joy.
Los Angeles: The Bosky Dell
Maggie Carson Romano’s compositions are inspired by the great Dutch Masters while her methods are influenced by the meditative practice of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, where shape, line, and form are as essential as the flowers themselves. Maggie works in both the Bay Area and Los Angeles. We enter the cafe each week with anticipation to see her sculptural creations. Her own words accompany her works below.
We try to manipulate our materials as little as possible so they hold their natural posture and structure.
I always strive to convey a sense of movement within my arrangements that hinge on natural minimalism.
Our flowers come from all over the world. We select rare and unusual varieties that people may otherwise never see.
The color in Blue Bottle’s cafes primarily comes from the food and the coffee—we love to offset these colors with deep greens and pops of saturated color to add a complimentary flourish to each unique cafe.
I hope that above all else my arrangements convey a sense of freedom to exist as one is.
New York: Fox Fodder Farm
Founder Taylor Patterson and her team draw upon memories from her rural upbringing, instilling the company with a sense of nostalgia and welcoming. Fox Fodder Farm’s work spans from the simplest gesture to large-scale installations. We love how their arrangements become an unmissable addition to a space, and yet feel like they’ve always been there.
A good arrangement comes from first selecting materials that complement yet challenge each other and then placing each stem with intention.
The slightest quarter turn of a flower or branch can make all the difference.
Often, people think that more flowers makes a good arrangement. But, it’s important to give flowers space to breathe and show off.
We select materials based on the space or client. When possible, we work according to the season and with local growers in the northeast. We hope that in addition to adding some color and green to the environment, the arrangements feel like they belong in the space… just as much as the coffee.
Tokyo: Akiva Zama
Seven years ago, Akiva Zama took up flower arranging on a friend’s whimsical suggestion. Today, he is a flower artist who creates work ranging from large-scale, multi-colored installations to nuanced arrangements that combine flowers, branches, and leaves. Born in Tokyo, raised in Seattle, and now back in Japan, Akiva’s work sets textures against one another and bursts with surprising ranges of color. He buys most of his flowers from the Ota Flower Market, one of the biggest flower markets in the world.
I want customers to feel the particular season when they walk into the shop. Looking outside inspires me: seeing the colors of the leaves, the kinds of flowers sprouting out of the ground, and how vines wrap themselves around old buildings.
Blue Bottle has a very cool, minimal feel. I try to keep the flowers very simple and keep the color palette simple, too. At the same time, the colors must be eye-catching; otherwise they'll fade into the background.
Sometimes I'll stick with one material just because, by itself, it's already so complete. At the same time, I want the transition of textures to be seamless. When the textures fit into place, the colors follow quite easily.
The balance of hard and soft, heavy and light is key.
Every time I go to change flowers in a cafe, I’m offered a cup. This is awesome, but sometimes I'm changing the flowers at the third location of the day. It’s hard to say no—even to my third coffee of the day!