Small Is B I G
“The “mini/tiny/diminutive” trend is raging and has spread to the floral industry – first with plants and now with cut flower bouquets and arrangements.”
All trends start small. People throughout history have had an affinity for miniature objects. From ancient Egyptian figurines carved from stone to the flea circuses of the 19th century to today’s LEGO bricks and Shopkins toys, people are fascinated with anything “mini.”
So what is it that makes us covet small stuff? Tiny objects that represent something larger are contemplative and fascinating. A miniature is somehow sacred because it tells a story yet can fit in the palm of your hand. Life in miniature not only gives way to the imagination and fantasy of living in a tiny world but also teaches us to study proportion and scale for planning and designing larger concepts and creations.
To follow the path of this tiny trend, let’s begin with toys. Kids are naturally attracted to miniatures because they are pocket-sized, and playing with them helps to develop their imaginations. There have always been toy miniatures, and the current trend is toward collectable “surprise boxes” containing a figurine inside. It is basically today’s version of baseball cards. Of course, the goal is to collect the whole set, so the more mini boxes you open, the better chance you have of obtaining an entire series of little dust-collecting plastics that can bring adults to tears as they step on them in the dark.
As the toy world was entertaining kids with miniatures, a more grown-up version of the mini trend emerged into the craft store sector a few years ago as the “fairy garden” fad spread worldwide. Mixing mini objects with fresh plants provided whimsy and playfulness to consumers who felt compelled to add small fairy doors and 3-inch lawn furniture into their dish gardens and terrariums.
Of course, social media has kept the tiny trend rolling with videos such as the “mini-chef” series in which dollhouse-sized kitchen accessories are used to make real food. It’s bizarre and hilarious and downright fascinating to watch giant hands put pink icing on a Cheerio donut and bake teeny pancakes in a mini frying pan. As silly as it seems, there is a practical application for mini food: The catering world has embraced the trend with creative offerings like mini grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, mini BLTs, shrimp-and-grits tasting spoons and many, many more single-bite delicacies.
Don’t forget fashion. One of this year’s runway trends is the “tiny bag.” French fashion designer Simon Porte Jacquemus’ ultra-small “Le Petit Chiquito” bag started the movement, and since the debut of the mini purse last year, celebrities and fashion icons have been spotted carrying micro bags. What, you ask, can they carry in such a tiny purse? Not much. But that’s not the point. Fashion is not about convenience; the bags are meant only to make a statement.
As the small-object trend has taken hold and grown up, we’ve applied it to things other than toys and entertainment. More and more people are choosing small-space living environments, and the “tiny house” movement has become increasingly popular as people are migrating to urban areas in increasing numbers.
According to the World Economic Forum, an international organization for public-private cooperation, 68 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in cities by 2050.
In order to accommodate the expanding need for living spaces in urban areas, those spaces are becoming smaller and more efficient. Home furnishing behemoths like Pottery Barn have created small-scaled lines of their oversized furnishings, to offer smaller more flexible décor to meet the needs of consumers.
This leads us to the floral world. We all know that plants are hot, hot, hot! And the smaller the plant, the more adorable it is. A miniature succulent in a tiny ceramic pot can make a person squeal with glee at its overwhelming cuteness. Along with their undeniable charm factor, mini plants can bring life to small spaces. And for once, the floral industry has been ahead of a trend: Miniature blooming and foliage plants in 2-inch pots were introduced by pioneering growers, like Micky’s Minis Flora Express, 30 years ago!
As smaller and more textural floral blooms have been trending, the ability to create smaller floral masterpieces has developed. Internationally renowned designers Harijanto Setiawan of Singapore and Gregor Lersch of Germany have produced delightful books on the subject of small yet exquisite floral design: WTF! What the Flower! and Floral Diminutives – Different/Authentic, respectively.
In May, Reka Kurtos, owner of Annie Bloom Florist in Dublin, Ireland, was so inspired by mini bouquets that she began posting on social media images of her miniature bouquets that are perfectly proportioned and fit in the palm of her hand. The trend caught on, and other florists began posting similar images of their own diminutive creations. It has become so popular that Kurtos created an Instagram page called the “Tiny Bouquet Challenge” (check it out at #tinybouquetchallenge or bit.ly/TBCinstagram), and florists from around the globe have responded by sharing nearly 1,500 images of creative petite designs.
Making the perfect miniature floral composition takes just the right materials. Paying attention to all parts of floral stems, small blooms and foliage helps a designer see the potential from large to micro designs. Kurtos reminds us, “Very often, in order to have a tiny flower, you have to have a big full stem of something that you take just this little precious part of.”
Bill Schaffer, AIFD, AAF, PFCI, and Kristine Kratt, AIFD, PFCI, are the creative directors behind Schaffer Designs, a floral event company. Bill and Kris are diverse contributors in the floral industry, specializing in not only trend translations, education, product development, and showroom and trade-show design but also commissioned floral installations. They’re also award-winning authors. Email bill@schafferdesigns. com and/or email@example.com.