During the final round of the FTD America’s Cup design competition last summer, Katharina Stuart, AIFD, CCF, had reality TV on her mind — namely the fast-paced cooking contest “Chopped.”
“I kept thinking of how the contestants transform their basket of ingredients,” said Stuart, who moved to the United States from Switzerland 20 years ago and now lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area. “In our final challenge, we were given a crate to work with, and I started to take mine apart to turn it into a different kind of vessel — then, I just kept working from there.”
Stuart’s ingenuity paid off in a big way when she was named the winner of the contest, held during the American Institute of Floral Designers’ Annual Symposium in Washington, D.C. The win meant that Stuart will be representing the United States next month during the FTD World Cup competition at the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show. It’s the first time since 1985 that the United States has hosted the prestigious competition.
Twenty-three countries will be represented at the event, and the excitement is palpable, said Emily Bucholz, director of marketing, communications and events at FTD.
“I truly believe hosting this event in the U.S. will bring the entire floral community together,” she said. “It is a great opportunity for everyone to see the top floral designers from around the world on one stage in Philadelphia.”
This month in Floral Management, we reached out to four contestants, to find out how they’re prepping for this career-changing competition. Here’s what Stuart had to say:
Representing the United States of America, on behalf of FTD
Winner of FTD America’s Cup in 2018 in Washington, D.C.
Favorite flower: “I love everything flowery.”
Why I design: “I was always drawn to plants and flowers. I really wanted to work in a nursery and grow plants, but that didn’t agree with my health at the time. So, I decided that floral design was the next best thing. I completed my apprenticeship in Switzerland in floral design before I moved to the United States.”
Design style. “Over the years, I’ve gone through phases. There was a rusty metal phase, followed by rustic wood elements. Now, I am doing more that’s softer, with paper and fabrics. It’s the same with colors, from a very colorful phase in my youth to pastels and, now, so many neutrals. I think it is very important for a floral designer to stay up to date on the latest trends in fashion or interior design. Styles change over time.”
Competition prep. “Although my everyday work challenges me, competing is a different level. It’s almost as if there is a different set of gears that need to be started for the competition. For me, the most important aspect of a competition is the mental part. I am working with a coach on things like mental attitude and positive thinking. As for the floral design aspect, I am practicing new techniques, studying the principle and elements of design and learning about design trends.”