The countdown is on for the 50th Annual Sylvia Cup Design Competition, the nation’s longest-running live floral design competition. Limited to 15 of the world’s best floral designers, each contestant will receive the same products from sponsors Certified American Grown and Smithers-Oasis — and two hours to create the surprise challenge — during this can’t miss event at SAF Palm Beach 2017, the Society of American Florists’ 133rd Annual Convention at The Breakers in Florida. Interested contestants have until Thursday, July 27, to sign up.
Although the competition’s theme will remain a secret until the contest starts, coordinator Marlin Hargrove, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, of the Pete Garcia Company, hinted that it will celebrate the Sylvia Cup’s golden anniversary.
“Our contestants will be challenged to reach deep in their imaginations and bring to life a beloved story of yesteryear,” Hargrove said. “The twists and turns of this delightful tale will serve as a great inspiration for the designers while taking us all on a magical adventure.”
Recent Sylvia Cup themes have included “Elvis Aloha from Hawaii,” “Cirque du Fleur,” “Studio 54 Revisited” and “Steampunk.”
A panel of three American Institute of Floral Designers Certified Floral Evaluator/Judges appointed by SAF’s Professional Floral Communicators–International Board of Trustees will evaluate the contestants’ work. The highest combined score determines the winner who receives the Sylvia Cup trophy, $3,000 and a complimentary registration to SAF Palm Springs 2018, SAF’s 134th annual convention. First Runner-Up wins $500; Second Runner-Up gets $250. Winners will be announced at the convention’s Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner on Sept. 9.
Past contestants describe the Sylvia Cup as a thrilling, inspiring and transformative experience.
“It’s the pressure of 10 funeral homes calling at noon, requesting casket sprays at 1, when your bridal client shows up two hours early for her consultation and half of your staff has called in sick,” said two-time contestant Jessica Cosentino, AAF, of Cosentino’s Florist in Auburn, New York. “I love the adrenaline.”
The competition honed her time-management skills and gave her new confidence in her design skills. “I feel like I’m a better multitasker since doing the Sylvia Cup and I don’t get as stressed when the unexpected happens in the shop and we have to rush,” she said. “And now, I don’t feel compelled to design in private. I’ll invite customers in back to watch while I finish their work.”
Ian Prosser, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, NDSF, urges all designers to give the Sylvia Cup a try. “It’s challenging, but fun,” said the owner of Botanica International in Tampa, Florida, and the 2007 Sylvia Cup champion. “The energy and the camaraderie is just fantastic.”
Winning the 2013 Sylvia Cup has provided tremendous exposure for Joyce Mason-Monheim, AAF, AIFD, AzMF, PFCI. “I’ve made connections in the industry and found a lot of opportunities,” said the freelance designer in Tucson, Arizona.
Internationally renowned designer René van Rems, AIFD, is delighted to see how the Sylvia Cup has grown since he won it in 1991. “In my day, there were just a few entrants,” he said. “Now, awareness has increased twentyfold and it is an event with a big audience.”
Van Rems appreciates the enthusiasm from contestants and spectators alike. “With brick and mortar flower shops — and trained florists — in decline, this is an important competition because it puts talented and educated designers in the limelight,” he said. Additionally, he said, it’s a good opportunity for growers and wholesalers to “see what happens when their products leave their hands.”