NYC floral designer Juan Villanueva shares a dramatic design idea that is considerate of the environment

Floral design, photos and text by Juan M. Villanueva

Villanueva Designs

New York, N.Y.

At Villanueva Designs, we often incorporate dramatic suspended floral designs into our wedding and event installations, and we have been employing eco-friendly practices in our floral design work for several years. This bright, cheerful, texture-filled composition is an example of both.

We prefer to use FibreFloral Design Media from Smithers-Oasis because it is formulated from natural volcanic basalt rock and has a bio-based binder that is derived from rapidly renewable materials. It is also reusable after an event for growing plants from cuttings and seeds. We’ve had success with flowers, depending on type, staying fresh for five or more days in designs of this type, particularly when we wrap the Design Media bricks in compostable bags. Additionally, we reclaim the floral-foam cages, chicken wire and hanging wire for future installations. This reduces not only waste but also cost-of-goods-sold!


Step 1

Soak a brick of FibreFloral Design Media in flower nutrient solution until it is thoroughly saturated. Next, allow the brick to “drain” for a minute or two, and then place it into a compostable bag. The bag will help retain moisture in the Design Media brick, and UNNI-brand compostable bags are thin enough to pierce easily with flower and foliage stems. Finally place the bagged Design Media brick into a floral-foam cage.

Step 2

Wire crumpled chicken wire to the floral-foam cage, in a formation of your choice, with florist wire, to extend the dimension and establish the shape of the design. Arrange fresh floral materials that will hold up for a time without water into the chicken wire portion.

chicken wire hanging

Step 3

Prepare the floral-foam cage for hanging by spiraling or braiding three lengths of 24-gauge decorative wire, to increase the tensile strength, and them wiring the spiraled or braided “cable” to either the floral-foam cage or the chicken wire, or both.

wire detail

Step 4

Arrange foliage to establish the shape and size of the design and to camouflage the mechanics. Place a bucket underneath the hanging construction to catch any dripping water. it absolutely helps retain moisture and keeps the bricks from completely draining/drying out.

foliage foundation

Step 5

Arrange flowers, establishing and maintaining physical (and visual) balance as you work. This finished design measures approximately 48” x 48” x 14”.




Paeonia intersectional hybrid × ‘Bartzella’ (Itoh peony, intersectional peony)

Rosa spp. ‘Akito’ (hybrid tea rose)

Paphiopedilum spp. (lady-slipper orchid, lady’s slipper orchid, slipper orchid, cypripedium)

Alstroemeria aurea/A. aurantiaca ‘Bali’ (Peruvian lily, lily-of-the-Incas)

Ranunculus spp. Butterfly series ‘Litai’ (butterfly buttercup, butterfly crowfoot, butterfly Ranunculus)

Sarracenia alata (yellow pitcher plant, yellow trumpet)

Limonium sinuatum ‘Sinuet Honey Apricot’ (statice, sea lavender)

Leucadendron galpinii (Galpin’s conebush, hairless conebush, silver balls)

Leucothoe fontanesiana ‘Rainbow’ (doghobble, switch ivy, drooping laurel, fetterbush)

Begonia spp. leaves

Floral Selection


• FibreFloral Design Media from Smithers-Oasis

• OASIS Foam Cage

• OASIS Florist Netting

• OASIS Florist Wire (22 gauge)

• Gold enamel wire (24 gauge)

• UNNI 100% Compostable Bags with Handles(1.6 gallon/6 liter)

Hard goods
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