Published on July 29, 2021

Flower arranging is one of those things that looks deceptively simple—but in reality it takes a lot of practice. Sure, if you’re picking up some simple blooms from Whole Foods and enjoying them on your kitchen table, it would be hard to make them look bad, but when a photo shoot is involved, it’s a whole other game. This may sound dramatic, but if your flowers are in the wrong vase, it can throw off an entire image.

Which is why I only trust Iittala’s Aalto vase, designed by Alvar Aalto in 1937. It has been a true lifesaver on set—so much that it has a permanent position in my stylist’s kit. Almost any type of flower can manage to look good in one, so regardless of the morning’s flower market finds, it always comes in handy. 

Domino’s chief content officer, Kate Berry—who was once a full-time florist and turned me on to this vase in the first place—agrees. It’s been her go-to for more than 25 years, and her enviable collection is proof. “The undulating curves makes it great for beginners, as they create small structures from which you can build up,” she explains. Because of the Aalto’s wide mouth, Berry suggests positioning the stems diagonally rather than straight up and letting the wavy pockets help guide you, allowing each bloom to rest perfectly in its spot.

Available in a range of sizes and colors, it’s priced from around $75 to $350 at Finnish Design Shop. While there are loads of cute, budget-friendly vases out there, I would truly rather have one Aalto than 10 ho-hum ones. But if you’re not one to splurge on a vessel for yourself, it’s the perfect gift. Florals aside, it even looks excellent empty, making it more than just a vase but also a bookshelf object. I keep matchboxes in mine—that is when I’m not bringing it to a shoot.

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