For the month of February, we are spotlighting Master Florist, and creator of fleursBELLA, Bella Meyer. Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with Bella about her incredible family history and learn more about her immense portfolio of accomplishments which includes obtaining a Ph.D. in Medieval Art History from the Sorbonne in Paris and working for the French Embassy in NYC. Bella Meyer was originally born in Paris, but raised in Switzerland, and naturally found herself immersed in the world of art being the granddaughter of historic artist, Marc Chagall. As fate would have it, Bella Meyer was destined to build upon her grandfather’s legacy in the art world through creating her own impact in the field of floral art and design.
In 2005, Bella created her floral design studio, fleursBELLA and officially opened the doors to its current location in downtown Manhattan in 2010. Her voyage through the world of art into the field of floral design is as enchanting as her magnificent floral design studio. This spring Bella will be teaching an exciting workshop in the Floral Art for Interiors program at Pratt’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS). Keep reading to learn more about Bella’s professional achievements, family history and her journey as an educator at Pratt Institute.
Pratt SCPS: Bella you have an incredible resume of accomplishments and a profound history within the art field, could you share a little about your background and what led you into the world of floral art and design?
Bella Meyer: Art was always the focus in my life. I grew up in a family which believed that art was essential to existence. My father needed to reflect through an art work to understand a thought process. My mother’s main attention was directed towards her father’s work, my grandfather Marc Chagall, who in turn, fiercely believed in the necessity in Art, and its spiritual powers. And so I came to understand that I needed art! Reflecting on its meanings, continuously inspired by daily discoveries of artistic creations, old and new, I also felt the need to make things, to paint, to draw, but this maybe more as expression of great respect to whatever I saw. This need of extrapolating what I felt around me, lead me to design and build theater and dance costumes and props, and even puppets to tell some fleeting stories. I wanted to bring vibrant colors to spaces and moments.
Thus, it was an extraordinary revelation when I was introduced, led by a floral designer, to the richness of the flower market on 28th Street, as we entered the ominous 2 room caverns of Fischer & Page. What magic! I couldn’t believe it: There it was: the complete world of thousands of colors just glaring at me! Tulips, ranunculus, roses, scabiosa, all made me understand that they owned the wisdom of all hues in nature, and only they could lead me to an understanding of this immense world of colors. I had been familiar with the street flower markets in Europe, and readily bought them, always attracted by their colors, to bring and give to my mother, my grandfather, my friends; Yet the possibility of using them, or working with them, to create a specific message, had never occurred to me before. It took me another few years, after learning about floral design, through reading, taking classes and interning, to have the courage to create fleursBELLA.
Pratt SCPS: How would you describe your artistic aesthetic and what inspires you?
Bella Meyer: My aesthetic is probably more organic, but strong lines, movement and colors are equally prevalent. Nature is my inspiration. A walk in the forest will always give me clues and answers. The sky, and its light, will give me such encouragement. And then, yes, a single little flower, or a leaf, and the deep silence of a prairie are equally as important, as is any message which might emerge from some one’s art work.
Pratt SCPS: What would you say has been your greatest professional achievement so far?
Bella Meyer: Walking into our studio fleursBELLA, with my team organizing the flowers in the front to welcome customers, or working on some wonderful, unique designs for various events, makes me feel very grateful and quite proud! And then I reflect on the large installations we did over the years, whether they were for BAM, on their main Opera Stage (Hermione), or transforming the huge then still raw 2 World Trade Center floors into a large forest, or covering the Frank Gehry staircase of Signature Theatre with thousands of orchids and ticket stubs. Having a colossal but ever so ephemeral looking angel fly down into the rotunda of the Art Museum in San Diego blessing nature and all visitors.
I love for us to take on challenges to respond to smaller art shows, and ever so respectfully and delicately create a dialog with the work exhibited. Bringing in large flowering branches, or small accents to a restaurant, thus creating a mere quiet backdrop to the diners, seems to be just as big an achievement as surprising knowledgeable guests to any Botanical Garden Gala party. Each project brings its own inspiring challenges, and thus feels to be yet our greatest professional achievement
Pratt SCPS: When did your Pratt journey as an Instructor begin and what has it been like?
Bella Meyer: My journey with Pratt started in the fall of 2017, when I was still teaching periodically for Flower School New York. Eileen Johnson, its founder and now former director, had introduced me to this wonderful new program incorporating Floral Art into the various disciplines which Pratt has to offer. Each season, I have been greatly inspired by how much the students are bringing into the class.
Pratt SCPS: As a Faculty Member in the Floral Art for Interiors Program what legacy do you hope to impart to your students?
Bella Meyer: Well, legacy is maybe too ominous a word, but I hope to give students the freedom to approach each floral creation in their very own and unique ways, while reminding them of listening to each flower’s movement, colors and needs. A floral design can only shine, if it tells a story; thus each arrangement is unique, created from the designer’s heart.
If you’re interested in learning more about Bella Meyer and her upcoming workshop at Pratt SCPS, A Wild Duet: Celebrations of the Arts via Foraged Materials, visit our main website.
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