The Art of Harnessing Nature's Beauty


Interview & Photographs by Maritha Mae

Based in Pasadena, California, Charmain Chen of Emblem Flowers creates seasonal arrangements with a fresh, organic, painterly aesthetic deeply inspired by her birthplace in London, and upbringing in Hong Kong. She uses a combination of color and design to create aesthetically pleasing artful pieces that leave her clients swooning for more. Her intentionality in expressing beauty, together with simplicity through her craft are compelling. Not only does she emphasize the beauty of the creative process but also the value of supporting local farmers in the community.

Photographs taken at Muir Ranch, an organic garden worth checking out.

What draws you to nature in particular as your artistic medium of choice?  

I find the allure of nature is it's authenticity.  Nature stands as a pure, unprocessed source of beauty, and flowers are signature emblems of the natural world.  What better way to harness nature's beauty through creating with flowers, foliage and fruit?

Where do you find your inspiration?  

I draw inspiration from the natural world and from art.  In my every day life, I pay attention to the movement, shapes and colors of trees and plant life.  At the same time, it's wonderful to draw inspiration from botanical gardens and museums, still life paintings, ceramics, as well as the work of other floral designers, both past and present.  I find it inspiring to walk through a local flower farm or the Los Angeles Flower Market, as flower combinations tend to arise as I see what the farm or market offers on that particular day.

Flowers have an ability to evoke joy and delight, and their ephemeral quality only increases our fascination with them.

Why is it important to you to use only seasonal and organic plants?  

I try to source materials seasonally and locally wherever possible, but sometimes there are exceptions due to client's needs.  Having said that, seasonal product, whether sourced locally or abroad, tend to be at the height of their beauty and vitality.  Flowers are an "ode to the seasons", so when we create pieces with what is in season, we honor the rhythms of the natural world.

What are the key SIGNs that tell you something is ready to be picked and added to your creations?  

It depends on when the arrangements will be on display. The closer to the event, the better it is to cut almost or fully opened blooms that still feel intact and are not about to shatter. 


Why do you think that flowers throughout history have become a staple of celebration, joy and appreciation?

In many cultures throughout history, flowers have been admired for their beauty and fragrance. They have an ability to evoke joy and delight, and their ephemeral quality only increases our fascination with them.  Flowers have the ability to cheer up any space as they bring the raw beauty of the natural world indoors.


Hmm, first use foliage to create a basic shape to your arrangement, next position the flowers that will be your main points of focus.  Lastly, incorporate lighter flowers or vines that will add movement and interest to your piece.  Let the shape of the flowers and vines determine where they want to go and the direction in which they want to fall.  Most importantly, relax and enjoy the process!

To learn more about Charmain and her work, visit her website here.