floral magic with lili cuzor
In the city of Los Angeles, it is quite common for its inhabitants to turn something typically referred to as ordinary into an art; floral arrangements are no exception. Lili Cuzor, of Tigers to Lilies, is a perfect example of this. Lili prefers to be referred to as a floral artist, rather than a florist, as she finds the title limiting. Her style mixes textures and colors, adding in greens and foliage to switch things up. Wild and dreamy, her work is featured through select weddings, magazines like Vogue and Wilder Quarterly, private homes and hotel art installations. When it comes to sourcing, she has the upmost respect and admiration for the natural world. After getting to know more about Lili, one thing is for sure—she is just as lovely as the plants and flowers that she works with.
How did your relationship with plants and flowers begin? What led you to choose this as a profession?
It happened quite naturally, actually. I want to get back to living closely to nature. I grew up surrounded by plants, gardens, and lots of time spent outdoors. My family lives in France and we were raised in a smaller city on the Loire River. My grandmothers, great grandfather, aunts and uncles all had plants, flowers and vegetable gardens. Our babysitter was a farmer’s wife, so our surroundings were spectacular! Stacks of hay in the barn, cows grazing in the nearby
flower fields, lots of bunnies, chickens, and cats! We played outside constantly. I was (and still am) always drawn to the forests in vicinity to our city as well. We would take really long walks through them which I think for a child is very imaginative and spellbinding. There was a break from that when my parents moved us to Southern California from France. Although we enjoyed the move and our new home, we were not in nature anymore. Lots of concrete and inorganic materials became part of our daily environs. I remember our mother taking us to an urban dairy farm and it feeling a little bit like home for us simply to be near cows! As the years pass I think I am just drawing back to the source I grew from: nature. What better way then with flowers and plants!
When creating, where do you source your inspiration from?
Firstly from nature of course! But I would have to say that music is quite significant in my inspiration wheel. I love getting into a moment through music and letting the work simply flow. Quite often I’ll need to find the right musical mood before I start anything. But
I also love to read books, watch dancers or dance films to study movement and how I can make my flowers dance, peek gingerly into the fashion world to see what is speaking at the moment, visit a museum, or take a long walk in a natural setting. What I try not to do is look at social media to get inspired. There is so much imitation and media specific aesthetics that I try my best to draw from my own well.
What does your design process look like?
A mess! I like an open, uncluttered space to work from but usually will turn it upside down by the end of the day. I also tend to work best under pressure which leads to major procrastination on my end which I don’t think is best for my mental/physical well being. I constantly have to remind myself to stay present and focused on the task at hand or will have a tendency in the middle of one project to begin something else.
Do you have a signature style?
Wild, airy and free. I like there to be space for my work to breathe.
What are the key ingredients to a beautiful arrangement?
I think the answer lies in the actual materials themselves and your spirit when arranging. If I use flowers that are in-season, native, naturally grown in healthy, living soil that is free from pesticides, chances are that I will have an outstanding ingredient to begin with. Flowers with vibrations! Letting go of preconceived ideas of how you should be arranging and simply listening to your heart as you arrange will always lead you in the right direction too. It can be as simple as letting a single stem take front and center for all it’s beauty to be admired, or a group of flowers complimenting one another in a vase. In any case, you should be connected to yourself and what is going on inside of you at that precise moment in order to create an honest, outstanding arrangement. The flowers will do all the work if you let them. And stay away from floral foam!
Where do you get your materials?
There is a bigger conversation to be had here with this question. In brevity, there needs to be an awareness on many levels as to where I am sourcing and what I am contributing to. Sadly the flower industry is a bigger, dirtier business then what is readily known. Most all the flowers are sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers, some coming as far as Chile or Australia. They are lifeless. The difference being that picking flowers naturally forces you to pay attention to what you are taking from the earth and gives you a flower with vibrancy. What is happening in the food world with the return and excitement of supporting organic products that are in season and within local distances, needs to happen within the floral world. We need to start supporting the local gardeners/farmers that grow natural flowers over the giant corporations. I am constantly reminded of how unnatural the flower market is. Flowers packed, sprayed and shipped from all over the world – I understand the appeal and spell one can have come over them when seeing this however it isn’t a sustainable industry. There needs to be a shift in the floral paradigm. We shouldn’t be able to have it all whenever we want it. Regarding plants I usually get them from local nurseries or friends that are avid growers, or sometimes I propagate a plant myself. As for nature ephemera I use I usually collect on walks. I have a massive collection of treasures from the earth!
Favorite flowers and/or plants? What is in your home right now?
I love all the flowering herbs such as the Cleveland sage that grows abundantly here or the beautiful salvias. Anemones, Echinacea and Poppies will stop me in my tracks. Sweet peas are an absolute go-to if they are in season. Any color, any shape, I’ll take em! As for plants I have a really soft spot for Alocasias right now (giant elephant ears). But really I love almost all plants. They all possess their own magic. I currently have 27 plants in my home, a little posy of purple and white anemones on my kitchen table, and dried willow branches in my living room.
Do you talk to your plants and flowers?
Absolutely! They also love a little music played for them too. I find that plants really like Brain Eno!
Why are flowers and plants magical?
Simply put, flowers are perfection. They have an effortless eloquence and grandeur. A depth so great to them that is both part obtainable and part mysterious. You can pick one and hold it in your hands or put it in a glass of water and it can change the entire energy of a room, of your heart. You can save a petal by pressing it between the pages of a book to take it out years later and be flooded with a sentiment, a memory of a moment. They radiate a beauty so pure too don’t they? One that is so unapologetic that it attracts both humans and animals alike. I could seriously go on and on. And plants! They are living, vibrating entities in and of themselves. Magnificent green creatures that hold so many secrets. They heal us, really. Make this a tolerable planet so that we can exist. Bring a plant into your home and your space shifts energetically for the better. We have so much to learn from plants.
When you think of an elevated space, what does it look like? Feel like? Sound like? Smell like?
Without sounding too cliché, my elevated space currently is our bedroom. More specifically our bed, with my baby cuddled in my arms. The way she smells, her super soft skin, her little coos and sounds that she makes. It brings such peace to my heart being present with her, especially in the scenario of us in bed together. We have a wonderful breeze that passes through our brightly lit sun-filled room. It’s a peaceful space with white walls, lots of books, and some of my oldest (and largest) plants, adding to the overall vibe. Throw in my husband, a few of our cats tucked in here and there and our dog and what more could I really want? Where there is love there is elevation.