Bart Hassam, an esteemed designer from Brisbane, Australia, was named the 2019 FTD World Cup Champion on Sunday, March 3, at the conclusion of one of the world’s most prestigious floral design competitions.
The three-day showdown, sponsored by FTD and held at the Philadelphia Flower Show, featured 23 floral designers from around the globe who qualified by winning high-profile events in their own countries. Hosted only every four to six years, the World Cup has been compared to the Olympic Games in terms of excitement and distinction.
“This has been a really wonderful experience and I am very grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me,” Hassam said during his acceptance speech. “I know that it is a rare opportunity [to compete in a World Cup] for anyone from any country, and I am thankful.”
World Cup competitors completed four preliminary design tasks — an architectural creation, a handtied bouquet, a romantic table for two and a seasonal design featuring Certified American Grown flowers — which led to a semifinal round of 10 designers. The five finalists created one last challenge live on stage during a gala attended by 650 guests. Hassam was honored later that evening, alongside first runner-up Natalia Zhizhko from Russia and second runner-up Tamás Mezöffy from Hungary.
Among his many other design accolades, Hassam has won the Interflora Australia Florist of the Year Competition five times and the 2011 Intercontinental Asia Cup. He exhibits, demonstrates and teaches floral design all around the world.
This was the first time since 1985 that the competition has occurred in the United States — that rarity drew hundreds of florists around the country to the City of Brotherly Love for the chance to watch it live.
“FTD is honored to have hosted such a prestigious international design competition and welcoming the floral community from around the world to the United States,” said Tom Moeller, FTD’s executive vice president. “It was an exciting competition and the talent in one room was incredible. Congratulations Bart and all of the competitors for their achievements and being a part of FTD World Cup.”
“It was amazing — a very intense level of competition!” said spectator Jodi Duncan, AIFD, of Jodi Duncan Designs in Norris City, Illinois, who was blown away by Hassam’s “table for two” entry featuring a mammoth-sized heliconia. (In this portion of the competition, contestants sourced all their materials, props and tools used in construction.) “When and where did he discover it? How long has it been growing? How much does it weigh? How was it shipped? I am dying to know!” Duncan said.
The many floral professionals unable to make the trip followed the competition vicariously through their peers’ photos and videos on social media. LeAnn Kesler, AIFD, and her husband David, AIFD, directors of the Floral Design Institute, provided detailed commentary in several Facebook Live videos.
Reviewing Hassam’s handtied bouquet, LeAnn Kesler commented on his use of color, texture, movement and depth, saying, “it’s easy to see why he’s the best in the world when you see his attention to detail.”
All of the competitors’ floral creations will remain on display in the Central Feature of the Philadelphia Flower Show through March 10.
Read more about the competition, including interviews with four competitors.
Katie Hendrick Vincent is the senior contributing editor for the Society of American Florists.