Behind the Scenes: Westin Global Holiday Design Guide

As some of you may know, I spent the summer & fall of 2018 working on a really cool project - the hush-hush is over, so I'm very excited to take you behind the scenes and tell you a little bit more about this collaboration with the very talented Westin brand & design team at Marriott. I'd worked with the team (then Starwood) a few years ago to design botanical programs for a few of their brands - basically, a reference guide for the individual hotels and their florists to make sure their arrangements are expressing their brands - so I was very pleased to be involved in creating the next design cycle. Westin is such a great brand to design for, since their focus on wellness means that fresh, natural elements like plants and flowers are a big part of the guest experience.

So, after a quick deep dive into the updated Westin brand - natural, textural, modern, balanced, layered, gestural - the work began. Of course, these arrangements all needed to be made with widely available materials, able to be adapted for many environments, made by a variety of skill levels across the globe. From working with hotels for years, I knew a GM's #1 concern was - no dead flowers. So anything we designed had to be made with only the heartiest of material. 

We started with sketches, with 64 concepts in total making it into the presentations. Here's a few that didn't make it very far:

A sketch of bundles of white parrot tulips, arranged in a thin vaseIkebana-inspired arrangement of mitsumata and anthuriumMulti-vase arrangement of pine branches and cones

Some of the arrangements we liked on paper didn't quite translate when executed in floral. A lot of the more pared-down, minimalist arrangements fell flat in this round of development. We also amped up the amount of metallics to give it more of a "holiday" feel without resorting to glitter and decorative snowmen. All in, I designed 56 arrangements during these photoshoots, with many of them containing multiple vases & elements.

Terrarium with thistle and iridescent ballsA multivase arrangement of birch poles and white mumsMultivase arrangement with magnolia, gold leaves, and eucalyptus

#1 lesson learned? The lighting in our studio sucks. After this photoshoot we invested in a better setup to make our pictures less embarrassing.

Along the way, the concepts grew and developed to something we all were really excited about. Like this piece, which started out as a low coffee table arrangement, morphed to a colorblocked greenery piece, and ended up as a series of really lovely textural credenza arrangements.


To arrangements shot in my studio - the colorblocking effect that I liked in the sketch looked real weird in execution. 

The feedback was to go lusher and more textured. Can you even count the number of different elements in each of these arrangements?

We ended up liking all the variations too much to cut any - which led to a busy photoshoot at the NY studio of the incredibly talented Meg Baggott of Rock Creative Media.

She's super talented and I learned so much about shooting glass...I immediately went to Home Depot to copy her awesomely customized & DIY setup. It's always inspiring to spend the day with someone succeeding at a creative career on their own terms. Robyn & Jeri from Marriott were also wonderful to work with through a couple of long days of really fine detail work perfecting the arrangements. They did a ton of work with the other elements of the guide, including a styling partnership with West Elm.

Want to see some of the finished arrangements? Here are a few of my favorites. And check out Westins everywhere next holiday season to catch a glimpse in the flesh.





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