Charlotte Moss on Elevating the Everyday Through Florals
Interior designer, tastemaker, and author Charlotte Moss. Photography by Brittany Ambridge.
Well-known in the world of interior design for her creative and timeless aesthetic, keen eye, and unique point of view, Charlotte Moss has been delivering inspiration for decades through her work, lectures, and books. For her latest title, Charlotte Moss Flowers (Rizzoli), the tastemaker turned her attention to florals, which she regards as not just for special occasions, but as glorious additions to decorating, entertaining, and everyday living. The result is a vivid chronicle of how flowers can enliven and brighten our lives, whether placed on a bedside table, a single stem in a quiet corner of a room, or a cluster in the center of the dining table.
Of course, gorgeous imagery, expert instruction, and inspirational touchstones come into play in the new volume. To that end, included throughout are images of Charlotte’s flowers that she has captured for the past decade; ideas for arranging flowers, selecting containers, and placing blossoms around the house; and thoughtful reflections on the contributions of past tastemakers, authors, and artists as muses—Colette for the role flowers have played in her prose, Karen Blixen and the garden arrangements she enjoyed creating for herself and her friends, Bunny Mellon’s baskets, Constance Spry and her groundbreaking mastery of arranging, and Lee Radziwill for her rooms filled with flowers and floral-themed works of art, to name a few.
On the eve of the book’s publication, we sat down with Charlotte to learn more about her floral philosophy, her favorite types of flowers, tips for creating a signature arrangement, and more.
“I love exploring the woods and fields for wildflowers, branches, and the ‘odd thing’ to add to arrangements.”
Charlotte Moss Flowers, the author’s 11th publication.
TSG: What prompted the writing of Flowers?
CM: Flowers just happened. I have been photographing flowers around the house, it seems, forever. Flowers is a selection of arrangements over the last decade.
TSG: You show so many varieties of flowers and arrangements in the book. What are your favorites?
CM: I love all flowers, but I particularly enjoy the growing of roses. There is nothing like a garden full of them at their peak. At the same time, I love exploring the woods and fields for wildflowers, branches, and the “odd thing” to add to arrangements. Life’s essential contrasts.
A handmade gathering basket made exclusively by La Tuile a Loup. Available at charlottemoss.com (credit: Charlotte Moss).
TSG: What guidance can you offer people who are just starting to experiment with arranging flowers?
CM: First, forget the rules. There are none. Select what you like, gather your favorite containers, and just start practicing. Practice will teach you how to pair certain flowers with vases: tall, short, etc. Then find something you are comfortable with and create a signature arrangement you can call your own. Change it up from time to time, experimenting, and practice will get you there. There are a number of great books on how to arrange, and I have listed many in my book. Buy one—they are filled with experience and tips.
An arrangement from the designers own garden (credit: Brittany Ambridge).
TSG: How can readers incorporate flowers into their day-to-day?
CM: Select the places in rooms that you frequent: at the front door, a spot on your vanity, or the dining table. Places where their addition will add something elegant, beautiful and satisfying. A single stem in a bud vase is a great place to start.
Photography by Charlotte Moss.
TSG: You write about “flower memories” in the introduction of your book. Which were the most powerful?
CM: Every one of them at the time was powerful in its own way. Here we are, years later, and they remain vivid memories and ongoing influences.
TSG: You also discuss your “flower muses.” What are they? Who are they?
CM: Women who responded to flowers as a muse in their life. Colette, Constance Spry, CZ Guest, Lee Radziwill, Fleur Cowles, and Gloria Vanderbilt, six influential, creative, and stylish women and all equally exacting. Each one continues to influence today, uniquely, differently, positively.
“In the end, this book is a plea to readers to make flowers a part of their daily life.”
Green room in Baroness Pauline de Rothschild’s home with 18th century wallpaper, Vogue 1969, Horst P. Horst.
TSG: What distinguishes Flowers from other books?
CM: I think Flowers adds to all the beautiful books out there. My personal philosophy makes it unique, but in the end it is a plea to readers to make flowers a part of their daily life. One thing we have given readers is a library of books. I have included over 100 books from my own garden library for those that want to get started or make additions to their own gardening libraries.
TSG: What are some of your personal sources of inspiration when it comes to flowers?
CM: Art. The history and symbolism of flowers has inspired artists for centuries, from a bouquet of violets by Albrecht Dürer to the exuberance of the Dutch and French flower painters, the elegant simplicity of watercolors in Empress Josephine’s bedroom at Malmaison, and countless others.
A Katherine Hepburn painting sits on a commode in the designers master bedroom (courtesy Brittany Ambridge).
TSG: What’s the next best thing to fresh flowers?
CM: There are artists that I have known for years that have created flowers from clay, porcelain, and hand-cut and painted metals, like brass, copper, and tole. Vladimir Kanevsky, Clare Potter, and Carmen Almon are unique in the world for their work capturing nature in the mediums to be enjoyed year round, year after year. Decoupage floral plates by John Derian can create a garden on a wall, and many of the artists that craft blossoms from paper and silk. There are countless ways to incorporate flowers into your life.
“Flowers have a way of telling you what they need.”
A Clematis by Vladimir Kanevsky sits on the mantel in the designers guest room (credit: Brittany Ambridge).
TSG: Tell us about The Flowers Collection of vases.
CM: My stepson, James Friedberg, is a glass artist in San Francisco, where he settled after graduation from California College of the Arts. The two of us have been collaborating on vases for years. I had ideas about style, sizes, and shapes based on my experiences arranging different types of flowers.
Flowers have a way of telling you what they need: small bouquets of garden roses need a vase with a curled lip to support their often voluptuous and heavy blossoms, while branches need a vase that has a weighted base to support them. Like most designers, I had ideas for shapes. The shape of a raindrop, a classical amphora, and a hefty fluted vase based on columns. I am lucky James is a glass artist! When I decided to write Flowers, everything fell into place.
The Flowers Collection, by James Friedberg and Charlotte Moss (Courtesy Loft Creative Group).
Article sponsored by Charlotte Moss.