Brittany Asch - Not your Grandmother's Florist
From Hollywood blockbusters to the Dalai Lama - Brittany Asch of BRRCH is NY's most in-demand floral artist
"It was like someone had cast a spell on me and all I could think about was a life with flowers. I was lured in and seduced. They abducted me!" So says the celebrated New York floral artist Brittany Asch who under the name BRRCH has transformed the notion of what is considered acceptable in the floral world, standing convention on its head. Often imitated, Asch pioneered the resurgence of dyed flowers, which were typically considered gauche before her thrilling applications. Asch sows surreal landscapes of colour, creating a new world.
She's featured in our new book Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design alongside 85 other floral artists. In it you'll find established florists alongside rising new talent – each nominated by industry experts. It's an expertly curated, gorgeously produced collection of work that offers insight into the profound effect that floristry has on today's visual culture. We asked Brittany a few questions about what she does and how and why she does it.
How would you describe what you do and do you have a signature style? I make site-specific flower sculptures. Over time, I've definitely noticed that I have certain sensibilities in regards to my preference for certain colors and flower combinations- mostly in response to societal conventions and my own anthropological studies of them. It seems that those preferences have lent themselves to the development of what makes an arrangement look like a BRRCH piece - which is very important to me. It started out with a quite simple combination of reflexing specific Rose varieties, Anthurium and Phalaenopsis Orchids, and over time through my natural inclinations to experiment and play, the nuances and structures developed into more distinct and often vertical forms. My style was initially founded on taking a stance to buck beauty conventions. I see flowers and people in a very similar way.
How did you get here? My backstory and how I found flowers are not entirely related. I was a professional actress and studied musician with a dance background. I moved to New York after college to get back into auditioning and begin the process of recording an album and my father passed away abruptly, causing a major perspective shift. I took a pause, and in that moment, flowers presented themselves to me in a very curious way. It was like someone had cast a spell on me and all I could think about was a life with flowers. I was lured in and seduced. They abducted me. From that point on, I did everything I could to make it possible for me to pay my rent through working with them so I could occupy all of my time that way.
What inspires you? Everything I look at provides a reference point in some way or another. I am in a constant state of observation. At home, I surround myself with visual treats that could spawn something and outside my eyes are deeply spoiled by this city and it's inhabitants. Travel, books and films, too. But my inspirations are not purely visual.
What emotion do you want to evoke in people? Oh, many. There is a feeling you feel when you are in love, like anything is possible and you are capable of whatever you wish - that feeling is what I would like people to feel when they see my work - like the boundaries of reality are not so limited.
Is how an arrangement smells important? Important? In my typical day-to-day, no, not usually. But I do enjoy adding elements that will alert the senses. However, there was an instance where I delivered flowers to someone who was blind, so I built that arrangement like you might build a fragrance. That was important.
How long can you spend on a particular arrangement and what’s the hard part to get right? I don't have much time to spend on them these days. I try to always allow an hour to work but I've had instances where I have 3 minutes or less to make a piece. The hardest bits to get right are the details that probably no one except me notices. I have a very exacting eye even though I don't prioritize ‘neatness’ if you will.
What’s the commission you’re most proud of and why? I was commissioned to create living floral sculptures and flower arrangements for a variety of scenes in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum coming out this May. It was an opportunity for me to let the flowers be actors, and morph into characters of their own, embodying that world. It was unlike my previous work in so many ways- these monstrous pieces, nothing delicate or pink. There were members of the Art Department that were, like Gian Lorenzo Bernini, truly masterful sculptors. My work had to exist in a way where it wouldn't detract. It exhibited to me how affected my process is by environment and simultaneously emphasized how much flowers can serve as vortexes, through exemplification, deepening a crafted and imagined reality.