Many fans of Martha Stewart's television shows and magazines will recognize Matthew Robbins. He is the intrepid young floral designer and stylist responsible for many of the beautiful flower arrangements in Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings. He has also appeared regularly on The Martha Stewart Show. His first book Inspired Weddings was released earlier this year (with a foreword by Martha) and it is one of my favourites, filled with inspiration, just as the title promises. I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to chat with Matthew about his work. Below are some highlights of our conversation and some samples of his beautiful work. I'm sure you'll find his creative insights on entertaining and floral design as interesting as I did.
Everyone has idols and influences. Was there a person, a book, an event or a place that really inspired you to pursue your passion for styling and design?
My friend and mentor Maria Giovanna Vella really inspired my passion for styling, entertaining and design during my college days in San Francisco. I worked in her shop, Bomarzo after classes and on the weekends. These are still some of my favorite life moments. I found an ability to design and live effortlessly in Maria's approach and this was something that really ignited my own career. Kelly Kornegay and Devorah Nussenbaum (Both designers in Northern California) also sparked my early passion for being inspired by the seasons and one's own sense of place, community and interests.
With the holidays approaching, many people are thinking about tablesettings. What are some design tips or strategies to help people create a memorable table?
Get inspired by the things you already live with and collect. Look around at your favorite objects, treasures and family heirlooms. Find material for your decor in this inspiration. Remember to create a beautiful table that reflects your personal style and that compliments your home or at least the dining room housing the table. You don't want a table that looks completely unrelated to your own style and the decor in your home.
What are some of the most popular flowers people are using in arrangements this season?
Anemones and ranunculus continue to be very popular in holiday arrangements. They are wonderful blooms as they are slightly less predictable than a rose or hydrangea and they can add that touch of whimsy to a traditional arrangement. Dusty miller foliage is also a big star this season. The beautiful frosty grey tone in this foliage brings a chic and unexpected detail to any floral arrangement.
How does one create drama with a floral centerpiece?
Concentrated, rich color brings drama to any arrangement. Also, lush and unique textural elements such as romantic vines and branches with movement will bring a sense of magic and drama to a floral arrangement. Sometimes choosing a dramatic base is enough to add the wow factor to an otherwise simple arrangement. A few magnolia branches with white amaryllis look stunning and insanely dramatic when presented in a gorgeous urn or something with real presence.
And if you want something more subtle?
Work with smaller blooms and keep the color relationships quiet but interesting. For example, use a range of white tones but choose blooms that range from crisp white to blushy, champagne white. Keep the movement and lines of the arrangement on the quieter less dramatic side. For this type of arrangement you might want to avoid too many contrasting shapes and tones.
How will you be decorating your holiday table this year?
I'm obsessed with green this year so I'm planning to feature rich green foliage with gorgeous vintage gold vases and accessories. Green tones look so chic, elegant and festive when paired with gold.
Your first book was amazing. Will there be other books by Matthew Robbins?
Thank you! So happy you love my first book. I'm currently developing the concept for my next book and I'm very excited about this!! I have a meeting with my literary agent soon to review the details! I will keep you all posted! It will definitely remain focused on the core of my work and mission which is to shed some light on how to find inspiration and use that inspiration for creating timeless, personal and unique design!
Below are examples of Matthew's styling and floral designs. When planning the look of a wedding or event, Matthew will often gather together a series of inspirational objects: fabrics, wallpapers, dinnerware, glassware, leaves, flowers, urns and even candy! Once collected, he will create an artful display and extract an overall palette and feel for the event. You can try it yourself with items that you love of a similar colour, keeping in mind a balance of textures and mixing patterns with solids. The results can be striking!