Exploring ‘Freakebana’, a New Style of Arranging Flowers

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Anthurium, orchid roots, with Tiffany & Co. Tiffany Signature cultured Akoya pearl earrings, $1,400 per pair at tiffany.com. Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Lately we’re obsessed with freakebana (pronounced “freak-eh-ba-na”), the new, ugly-cool style of arranging flowers. For those unfamiliar, it’s the weird cousin of ikebana, a centuries-old Japanese art form — traditional floral arrangements feature spare, off-center compositions of local and seasonal foliage, positioned to emphasize form, line, and color, with plants chosen carefully for their symbolism. Ikebana is an old practice with new adherents. Brittany Asch, of Brrch florist, who helped compose the arrangements in these photos, also designs the dramatic ikebana-like installations found in the stores of cult style and beauty brands like Mansur Gavriel and Glossier.

While a subset of ikebana called morimono has long included the use of fruits and any part of the plant an artist likes, this new style deploys even more eccentric elements for maximum surprise. Pink carnations, cubes of Jell-O, an air plant, a single rhinestone earring, a tuft of steel wool — almost no object is too low, or high, to qualify. The style can be channeled easily while sitting at a table with friends. You don’t need acres of land or deep pockets, just a willingness to see the potential in banal produce, flowers, and stray detritus — remixing them to seem intentional, maybe even beautiful. See photographer Bobby Doherty’s take on the trend, paired with luxury jewelry, below. —Stella Bugbee

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Pitcher plant with David Yurman black-Tahitian-pearl-and-diamond earrings, $5,400 at davidyurman.com.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Phalaenopsis orchid with Buccellati silver-coated seashell, $670 at buccellati.com.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Anthurium, durian, with a Tiffany & Co. sterling-silver coffee can, $1,500 at tiffany.com.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Protea, feather grass, and a miniature palm with De Beers diamond earrings, $8,500 at debeers.com.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Sarracenia, amaranthus, with a Chanel No. 5 parfum bottle, $130 at chanel.com.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Lady’s slipper orchid with a Pomellato 18-karat-rose-gold bracelet, $13,200 at pomellato.com.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Orchid leaf, orchid roots, and rose thorns with a Georg Jensen stainless-steel candleholder, $85 at georgjensen.com.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Cymbidium orchid with Hemmerle sapphire earrings, price upon request at hemmerle.com.

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine

Coconut frond, anthurium, orchid, celosia, and bromeliad with a LBK Studio glass sculpture, $550 at abchome.com.

Production credits:
Photographs by Bobby Doherty
Floral design by Brittany Asch
Styling by Diana Tsui

*A version of this article appears in the December 11, 2017, issue of New York Magazine.

What Is ‘Freakebana’? A New Style of Arranging Flowers