Flowers are like impressionist paintings. The closer you get, the more details, the more subtleties and, occasionally, endearing fragilities are revealed.
“See, it goes from that dark rich magenta and fades into all these beautiful veins,” says Meredith Cooper, leaning in and gushing over a regal Icelandic poppy. “I wrote a silly poem to poppies during the pandemic. I could just stare at them forever.”
As a child, Cooper was so mesmerized by a massive piece from Monet’s Water Lilies series, she reached out right there in the gallery, and touched it. She’s been feeling floral ever since, and founded Forage Floral Co. in 2018 to beautify weddings and high-end events and make subscription boxes for what she lovingly calls “everyday flowers.”
Unlike superstore florists, Cooper’s style is less browse-and-buy, and more of a real signature. Her designs trend soft and feminine and sherbet summery with a palette of pastel pinks, golden yellows and oranges.
“I think about the little details, the senses, and how this is connected to the person receiving it,” says the Zachary native who has been known to gather fallen magnolia leaves from a roadside. “For me, this is an artistic expression, and I want my vision to align with a bride or client’s vision.”
How people view flowers in general shifted in the early days of the pandemic, Cooper says. When lockdowns and social distancing landed, she began making small arrangements and dropping them at friends’ doorsteps. The trend bloomed. “When you couldn’t spend time with people face to face, COVID offered an opportunity to show love through flowers,” she recalls. “For someone you want to give a hug to, people would send flowers.”
COVID kept her longer at Baton Rouge General than she had planned. An ICU nurse by trade, Cooper had been angling an exit for her artistic passion for a while when the pandemic struck. She takes on shifts occasionally, still, but spends the majority of her time in her Mid City studio, dreaming in florals and welcoming guests at her new “flower bar.”
In 2021, she partnered with Amy Vandiver and Clover Creative Agency to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital and promote floral art with The Flower Fest. “There’s tons of geometry and creativity that goes into these flower displays,” Cooper says. “We wanted to show what Louisiana, ‘the boot,’ can do.”
While the group works toward the 2023 event, Cooper acknowledges the festival reflects her own obsession.
“If I can echo a tiny bit of nature in something my hands touch, I’m doing it right.”