FROM LEWIS MILLER, THE CELEBRATED FLORAL DESIGNER AND “FLOWER BANDIT” HIMSELF, AN INTIMATE AND JOYOUS BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK AT HIS SIGNATURE FLOWER FLASHES AS THEY INTRODUCED BRIGHT MOMENTS OF NATURAL BEAUTY INTO THE CITY WHEN THEY WERE NEEDED MOST.
Before dawn one morning in October 2016, renowned New York-based floral designer Lewis Miller stealthily arranged hundreds of brightly colored dahlias, carnations, and mums into a psychedelic halo around the John Lennon memorial in Central Park. The spontaneous floral installation was Miller’s gift to the city—an effort to spark joy during a difficult time. Nearly five years and more than ninety Flower Flashes later, these elaborate flower bombs—bursts of jubilant blooms in trash cans, over bus canopies, on construction sites and traffic medians—have brought moments of delight and wonder to countless New Yorkers and flower lovers everywhere, and earned Miller a following of dedicated fans and the nickname the “Flower Bandit.”
After New York City entered lockdown, Miller doubled down, creating Flower Flashes outside hospitals to express gratitude to frontline health workers and throughout the city to raise spirits. This gorgeous and poignant visual diary traces the phenomenon from the first, spontaneous Flower Flash to the even more profound installations of the pandemic through a kaleidoscopic collage of photos documenting the Flower Flashes, behind-the-scenes snapshots, Miller’s inspiration material, fan contributions, and more.
LEWIS MILLER was born and raised in California farm country amid olive, almond, and peach orchards, and developed a respect for nature early on. At eighteen, he moved to Seattle where he studied horticulture and landscape design, and after seven years of successfully pursuing his interests in design, flowers, and event planning, Miller moved to New York, where he worked for one of the city’s top floral boutiques. In March of 2002, Miller’s vision of a country life in a metropolitan setting inspired him to create Lewis Miller Design. Since striking out on his own, Miller has created stunning floral designs for the Met, the Whitney, Tiffany, Ferragamo, Versace, Viktor & Rolf, and Bergdorf Goodman. In 2016, Miller invented the Flower Flash—a guerilla flower installation—and has created more than 90 since.
“Flower Flash is a noun, a verb, and an adjective at once. A Flower Flash, with its decadent blooms bursting from a trash can and groaning under its own weight, is a noun. To Flower Flash, as the words imply, is a verb that denotes spontaneity and swiftness, but it is much more than quickly heaping hydrangea heads next to a steam pipe in a busy avenue. It is visceral, imperfect, and rambunctious, but confident.
It relies on a vague plan that might be modified on-site and is only successful if attuned to the surroundings and the moment. It is the polar opposite of designing a posh event. And as an adjective, Flower Flash describes a new approach to the craft of floral design, a style of arrangement that is boisterous, free-form, and a little wild, a departure from the immaculate and a total acceptance of improvisation.” Lewis Miller