Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hitomi Gilliam Inspires at City College of San Francisco

Design by Hitomi Gilliam AIFD
The students in the Environmental Horticulture and Floristry Department at City College of San Francisco were intrigued, fascinated and inspired by internationally renowned master designer Hitomi Gilliam  at their annual fall semester Artist in Residence Program.  Hitomi focused on new and exciting mechanics in the industry, trends, and how to be a profit minded floral artist.  She discussed the importance of education, investing in yourself and charging appropriately for creative talent and time.  Her designs and presentation enabled the students to gain insight and encouragement to explore possibilities within the industry and to reach their full potential.
The photo above is a  horizontal construction displaying the importance of the handcrafted look and her artistry with interesting materials and line.  The fresh materials were gathered from the horticulture greenhouses and gardens of City College with beautiful specimens of Adiantum tenerum, Jasmine polyanthum, Agapanthus africanus and Senecio cineraria.  Hitomi purposely accents her materials to show the pleasing imperfections which is a sought after trend. One way she does this is wrapping water tubes and the wooded supports with natural twine such as jute in an uneven manner.  She also discusses the importance of transparency in her designs.  This is an important topic taught and learned in the European Masters Certification Program (EMC) which Hitomi and Tomas De Bruyne have partnered and jointly run together.

Hitomi Gilliam AIFD, Jenny Tabarracci AIFD, Tomas De Bruyne, Holly Money-Collins AIFD
at San Francisco Flower Market

Wonderful opportunity and privilege for the students to work with floral artists such as Hitomi.  (above) Students of the American Institute of Floral Designers (SAIFD) Hee Joo and So Yeon Kim assisted and demonstrated in Hitomi's presentation.  Also Sue Tabbal-Yamaguchi AIFD assisted with Hitomi's presentation.

Hitomi sketched in large scale the beginnings of her design process for the group on the chalk board.  This provided a clear vision for all.  Sketching your designs before executing them is a fantastic way to initiate the creative process.

Hitomi executed the constructions of her sketched designs and proceeded to place fresh materials within her compositions.

Hitomi demonstrated ways to reinvent glass vases with flat wire and spray paint.

Steven Brown AIFD Department Chair gave the welcoming greetings to the group and was the point person for procurement and coordinating facility.  Special guest Wil Gonzalez AIFD the representative for AIFD North West Region spoke about upcoming scholarships and the American Institute of Floral Designers National Symposium in Orange County.  



Hitomi shared her designs and concepts with the European Master Certification Group that was visiting City College.


Hitomi's construction and mechanics for a chandelier design.

This was a fantastic educational learning collaboration with City College of San Francisco, American Institute of Floral Designers and European Master Certification Program.   Many thanks to everyone and especially to Hitomi for sharing her expertise and floral artistry.

(picture above:  So Yeon Kim, Hitomi AIFD, Hee Joo, Young Joo Pak, Jenny Tabarracci AIFD)





Tuesday, July 28, 2015

City College of San Francisco "Four Years" Champions


City College of San Francisco

2015 National Student AIFD Champions

Young Joo Pak, Aimee O'Donnell Saunders, Kyung Yun Kim, Jenny Tabarracci AIFD, CFD(Advisor/Instructor), Hee Joo, So Yeon Kim
City College of San Francisco has won the Overall School Award four consecutive years.  This is a tremendous team accomplishment and all students must score high to achieve this great recognition and award. This Student Design Competition is held every year at the AIFD (American Institute of Floral Designers) National Symposium.  This year it was held in Denver June 30-July 4, 2015.  The Student AIFD (SAIFD) maintains chapters at 15 colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. 

2015 City College of San Francisco SAIFD Competition Team

The American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) is the floral industry's leading non-profit organization dedicated to establishing, maintaining and recognizing the highest standard of professional floral design.  AIFD and its worldwide accredited members are at the forefront of the industry in presenting educational design programs and in designing flowers for such renowned events as Tournament of Roses Parade, Academy Awards and Presidential Inaugurations.  Find more information at

Members of the AIFD Northwest Region
Awards/Induction Night AIFD Symposium 2015 Denver
The SAIFD competition encourages creativity, resourcefulness and focus while giving real-life experience in a high pressure situation.  The competition is an opportunity for the students to use the floral design skills they are developing in classes.  It's a fantastic learning experience and a place to grow as a student designer. It also provides a similar experience to the process for certification by AIFD or membership in the Institute.

So Yeon and Kyung Yun creating Body Flowers Design

Kyung Yun Body Flowers Design - necklace for a bridesmaid - 45 minutes to complete
So Yeon Body Flowers Design - necklace for a bridesmaid - 45 minutes to complete
Hee Wedding Design - bridal bouquet -1 hour to complete
Hee Arrangement Design - place card table - 1 hour to complete
Hee Duplicate Design - high boy cocktail tables - 1 hour to complete
Aimee O'Donnell Saunders creating Duplication Design
 Aimee Arrangement Design - place card table - 1 hour to complete
 Young Joo creating Duplicate Design 
Young Joo Body Flowers Design - necklace for a bridesmaid. - 45 minutes to complete 
Supplies, Tools and Containers allowed for competition

Each student received the above bucket of materials for their competition  designs.  They were not required to use all the materials.  There were four categories in the competition:  Arrangement for a place card table, Bridal Bouquet for a Wedding, Two identical Duplicate centerpieces for high boy cocktail tables and Body Flowers necklace for bridesmaid.  The Students had 1 hour for each design except the Body Flowers category was 45 minutes.  There was also a People's Choice category which the viewing public had an opportunity to vote for the table with their favorite student designs.
The SAIFD competition judging is technical.  Points are given for the methodological use of color, depth, line, balance, focal emphasis, unity and proportion.  Judges strive to set aside subjective opinions, and give high points for well-executed designs. Points are also awarded for creativity, flawless mechanics (neatness, no glue showing, hiding of support systems, technical skill) and appropriate category interpretation.

Requirements to compete as a Student AIFD:

 1.  Student must be an active, novice member of a good standing SAIFD Chapter.
2.  Each student must provide transcripts showing: 2.0 or higher GPA and completion of 15
     semester units or 22 quarter units.
3.  Students may not have worked full time in a retail/wholesale florist as a  designer
     more than 2 years, or part time more than 3 years.
4.  Student has not competed in National Competition at Symposium for more than
     3 years.
5.  The Student is not registered candidate in the AIFD CFD program.

2014 City College of San Francisco SAIFD Champions - Chicago
Fiona, Kyung, Ineke, Mia, Hee
2013 City College of San Francisco SAIFD Champions - Las Vegas
Imelda, Sungmun, Mia, Ariel, Jenny (Advisor/Instructor), Nicole, Ineke, Oxana

2012 City College of San Francisco SAIFD Champions - Miami
Kanako, Oxana, Imelda, Jenny (Advisor/Instructor), Yumi, Julie
The next Student AIFD competition is in Anaheim California at the AIFD National Symposium July 3 - July 7, 2016.  Hope you get a chance to see all the amazing designs from the student chapters. 

For more information on SAIFD email Jenny Tabarracci AIFD, CFD at



Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Aquascaping" at Conservatory of Flowers


Welcome to the inspirational journey of AQUASCAPES

 Aquascaping is "garden designing under water".   The goal of Aquascaping is to create an artful underwater landscape.  There are many technical factors that come into play for a true Aquascape .  But for now, put that aside and start brainstorming, creating and sketching.  Think of the popular tablescapes we've been doing in the floral/event industry and combine them with flowers that are being submerged (orchids, roses, callas......).  Think of  the European Landscape and Vegetative designs and turn them into Aquascapes.  Let this historical craft inspire you just like the Dutch/Flemish paintings did.  Yes, there is a Dutch Style Aquascape that was developed in the 1930's.  Many of the same characteristics that a Dutch/Flemish floral design would have with lush and multiple types of plants having diverse leaf colors, sizes, and textures.

There is also a "Nature Style" which is a Japanese style, introduced by Takashi Amano in the 1990's.  This style in contrast to the Dutch Style focuses on minimalism, with rules of placements creating miniature landscapes with a limited color pallet.  Many parallels to Oriental Floral Design.

Aquascapes are exhibited now at The Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.  Also, there are so many inspiring plants and living designs being shown there.  Not to mention the beautiful grounds and architecture of the Conservatory.  This historic landmark has five galleries filled with exotic plants and flowers from around the world.  
So many techniques, species and floral design styles in one place. Wonderful organic materials that  illustrate the principles/elements of design. Below are just a few examples of how to use the Conservatory as an educational wonderland.

Underwater Gardening


Lush living wreath designed around statue pond

 Exciting way to learn Line, Shape and Reversed Proportion 


Magical Repetition

 Gorgeous Contrast of Texture

 The Conservatory of Flowers is also a special venue to recommend to your clients.  They open their doors for private events after hours year round.
I hope you get a chance to see the exhibit and experiment with your own Aquascape Style of designing.  Let's start this trend together.........................................................
For more information on the Aquascapes and Conservatory go to:

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Day With "Tomas De Bruyne"

Tomas De Bruyne - Floral Designer

I highly recommend taking a seminar with Tomas De BruyneThe Floristry Department at City College of San Francisco was privileged to host at their facility this Brilliant Belgian Floral Designer.  Special thanks to The Northwest Region of the American Institute of Floral Designers(AIFD) who presented and coordinated his program/workshop.

One of the many things you learn through his seminar is the importance to continually invest
in yourself.  It's so important for florists/floral designers to continually update our knowledge and enhance our skills to achieve success.  You will also learn that personal and professional development go hand and hand.

The seminar was aimed at students and flower shop owners wishing to stand out from the rest by using the 3 creative M s:  creative mechanics, creative merchandising and creative minds

Tomas being a floral designer, teacher, author and entrepreneur has a rich source of knowledge/experience with much to share. Visit his website for more information on his many accomplishments,upcoming seminars/projects and European Master Certificate.
Design demonstrated by Tomas.

Tomas teaching techniques for a cascade bridal bouquet.

The completed cascade bouquet that City College of San Francisco Student Cynthia Woods won after attending the workshop.

City College of San Francisco's SAIFD President and First Place Winner for the SAIFD Competition in Las Vegas "Ineke Moss" enjoyed assisting and learning techniques from Tomas.

Tomas discussing the mechanics of his design and the opportunity to tap into the Special Event Industry with our specialized skills as Floral Designers.

City College of San Francisco Student Jennifer Rossi concentrating and learning the intricate detailing for one of the designs Tomas shared in his program.  This was such a wonderful opportunity for CCSF students learning hands on with Tomas.

Emil Yanos AIFD one of the coordinators and assistants for the seminar prepping a design for Tomas's program.

Break time with Tomas, Wil, Connie, Lily, Cheryl, Greg and Katherine.  
 One of many techniques learned at seminar. 
Techniques with pussy willow. 
Thanks to the Northwest Region of the American Institute of Floral Designers.  This inspiring program and workshop happened because of their efforts and passion for flowers.  Thanks to Wil Gonzalez AIFD and his committee for all their hard work!  This year the American Institute of Floral Designers are celebrating their 50th anniversary.  If your interested in experiencing these types of programs, workshops and presenters go to  The next AIFD Symposium is in Chicago Illinois, July 3-7, 2014.

This Fabulous Floral Group contributed to the success of Tomas's program. Thanks to all of you for a wonderful experience.  Special thanks to the sponsors of the program who provided their product:  Accent D├ęcor, Brannan Street Wholesale, Smithers-Oasis, KB Flowers and The Sun Valley Group. 
Thank You!!
Jenny Tabarracci AIFD