AIFD’s spectacular 2022 National Symposium

By Nita Robertson, AIFD, CFD

floral display nest designers Helen Miller and Cindy Tole
Photo credit to AIFD® Official Photographer, Nico Alsemgeest

“ROOTS,” the 2022 National Symposium of the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD), took place July 4-8, at the Caesars Forum Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nev. The event provided world-class floral design education and inspiration, trend research, and networking and new-product sourcing opportunities to more than 900 of the flower industry’s leading business owners, floral artists, event professionals and suppliers.

The theme “ROOTS” represents AIFD’s mission of advancing the art of professional floral design through education, service and leadership, and recognizing achievement of excellence in this art form: “When a seed takes root, growth begins. To ensure a plant grows to its full potential, it requires special care, nourishment and attention.”

Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, CFD, coordinator of this year’s Symposium, says of the event, “It’s all about building a strong supportive community, all in the spirit of volunteerism. This event would not have been possible without the great leadership of AIFD’s headquarters staff; the executive officers and board of directors; and all of the committee appointees, with their volunteers and ambassadors. It takes an amazing team to create an event of this caliber.”

The excitement for this event has been building since the last National Symposium in 2019, also in Las Vegas. The energy was high and full of passion at the event, which was jam-packed with inspirating educational programs and hands-on classes, the 2022 “FTD America’s Cup” design competition and AIFD’s “Professional Floral Design Evaluation” (PFDE) testing program 

Every AIFD National Symposium begins with the PFDE, a testing process for candidates wanting to become an “Accredited Member of AIFD” or to earn the “CFD” (Certified Floral Designer) accreditation. The PFDE process challenges candidates to complete floral designs in each of five categories, in four hours, all using the same materials. This year, 106 floral designers participated in the PDFE, which took place on July 4.

For the first time ever, AIFD offered a virtual “Live Stream” option for people who could not physically attend the event. Thirty-seven people participated in the “Live Stream” this year, and they were able to view the Main Stage presentations and join chat discussions on the virtual app.

All Symposium and Live Stream attendees can access videos of the Main Stage programs through Oct. 8. In addition, viewing privileges for videos of the Main Stage programs are available for purchase to everyone in the flower industry through AIFD’s virtual store,

“ROOTS” Highlights

amazing floral bouquet
Photo credit to AIFD® Official Photographer, Nico Alsemgeest

Partners’ Showcase

The “Partners’ Showcase” is a fun expo showcasing the latest and greatest products from dozens of our industry’s premier vendors. This year, we saw fabulous cut flowers from Alexandra Farms, RosaprimaBall SB, and more, as well as the latest products from Smithers-Oasis CompanyAccent Décor and Details Software, among many others.

FTD America’s Cup

The “FTD America’s Cup” is a national floral design competition, the winner of which will represent both FTD and the U.S. at the “Interflora World Cup” in Manchester, England, in September 2023. Ten talented competitors competed live, battling pressure and time limits for the top spot, which was won by Jenny ThomassonAIFDCFDAAFPFCIEMC, of St. Louis, Mo.

Photo credit to AIFD® Official Photographer, Nico Alsemgeest

“Main Stage” Presentations

Symposium was packed with 12 fabulous Main Stage programs, full of information and inspiration. It was an thrilling mix of national and international talent. Here are highlights of four of the presentations.

“Cultivate, Celebrate: Neotropical Hawaii,” featuring Sue Tabbal-Yamaguchi, AIFD, CFD, EMC; Lois Hiranaga, AIFD, CFD; and Brenna Quan, AIFD, CFD, and sponsored by the Hawaii Tropical Flower Council and the Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association (HFNA), was a fascinating presentation of Hawaiian-grown tropical flowers. The trio transported the audience to the islands, with the lush and colorful wedding designs in both Neotropica and Tropical Nouveau stylings. The ladies also explored the special relationships that have been cultivated between breeders, growers and floral designers, resulting in development of new and exciting botanical varieties. 

Photo credit to AIFD® Official Photographer, Nico Alsemgeest

“Evolving Shapes in Design,” featuring Max van de Sluis and Hanneke Frankema, both from the Netherlands, and sponsored by Smithers-Oasis Company and FloraLife, was a fabulous program showcasing European influences on floral design. 

Photo credit to AIFD® Official Photographer, Nico Alsemgeest

“Botanica Ecologica—Let Nature Define the Vision” was presented by 2019 “FTD/Interflora World Cup” Champion Bart Hassam, from Australia, and sponsored by FTD. Hassam’s organically based compositions, focusing on the architectural nature of plant materials, featured sculptural forms of Australian native reeds, sedges and foliage juxtaposed with nature’s perfect building material—bamboo—in a meeting of Eastern and Western influences. 

Photo credit to AIFD® Official Photographer, Nico Alsemgeest

Sponsored by Accent Décor, “Reincarnation” featured Solomon Leong, AIFD, CFD, Ph.D., and the Society of Chinese Members of AIFDintroducing stainless-steel zip ties—a product I had not seen before. Leong and group also designed a beautiful woven structure made from plastic straps from flower boxes, painted yellow and bound together into a swirling structure with decorative wire. What a creative and ecologically responsible idea for turning “trash” into art!

Dr.Solomon AIFD roots program
Photo credit to AIFD® Official Photographer, Nico Alsemgeest

AIFD’s 2023 National Symposium, “Grow,” will be held July 1-6, in Chicago, Ill. We look forward to “growing” with you there!

floral arrangment

floral design