Fresh from a weekend spent seaside at her mother’s summer home on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, Marisa Competello brings a cool, unstudied approach to most everything she touches—including flowers. As founder of Meta Flora, the must-follow New York floral design studio, she creates arrangements that wow in the way an abstract painting might vibrate off the canvas—all broad strokes, dynamic forms, and bold color combinations. Still, she’s not opposed to keeping things simple. Think: big impact, minimal fuss.
Here, Competello shares three variations on the breezy summer arrangement, each requiring just one flower type and a statement-making vase. (She often scores hers at thrift shops and Housing Works around the city, like the black geometric vessel shown in this story.)
Show Good Form
Try varying heights of the same flower to make repetition your statement, such as these alliums (aka flowering onions) or the equally sculptural anthuriums, which come in a spectrum of vibrant colors. “I like to create a different shape within the shape,” says Competello. “Diagonals are unexpected because you never see them in flower arrangements. I always lean toward asymmetry.”
Think beyond florals—like these amazing garlic scapes—for a twist on the usual arrangement. Browse the farmer’s market for wilder shapes that haven’t been tamed for the supermarket aisles. Often the non-floral option is less expensive and becomes more creative, too, as you work unexpected elements into the mix.
Bring Out Texture
Smoke bush in a deep burgundy can feel summery and lush when paired with a pastel-hued vintage vase. Competello also loves agonis grasses. “It’s dark brown (but reads black) and glossy.” Whichever you choose, leave grasses wild and freeform for a plucked-straight-from-nature look.
Lightning Round: 7 questions with Marisa Competello
Favorite Summer Blooms
“Pampas grass. I wait for it I’m so looking forward to using it!”
Old-School Bodega Bloom That Does The Trick
“Tulips, but my cat kept eating them. So I’d say a classic tiger lily is always nice.”
Favorite Color Combo of the Moment
“Burgundy and pink or peach.” (Hello, smoke bush and pink orchids.)
Favorite Flower Fragrance
“Ginger flower of the ginger root. It smells like a sweet ginger and looks like a giant honeycomb.”
Dream Arrangement Recipient
“Dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch.”
Soundtrack for Arrangement Making
“Classical or jazz in the car and at the studio. Something mellow. I drive around making deliveries all day so I have New York’s 105.9 on all the time.”
Plants You Keep At Home
In her own apartment, Competello keeps just one flower arranged throughout—whether red lilies, black callas, or kangaroo paw, a native Australian flower that’s “velvety and weird.”