After nearly a decade working in fashion, stylist assistant and dancer Marisa Competello wanted a change. She found that change in the conception of Meta Flora: her NYC-based floral design studio that lists Rachel Comey, Outdoor Voices, and eatery Dimes among her esteemed and stylish clientele. While changing her medium, Marisa’s minimalist designs reflect her interest and past in movement, line, color, and texture. We spoke with Marisa about where the inspiration for Meta Flora came from and how she turned it into a reality, as well as what it’s like collaborating with our favorite designers. Enjoy!
First off! After years working in fashion, you broke off and pioneered Meta Flora. How did this transition come about and how did you start?
Meta started as an idea of a way to transition out of fashion. I had been assisting stylists for nearly a decade and came to the point where I knew I didn't want to be a stylist myself. I wanted something of my own, something more peaceful. Flowers are both beautiful and quiet. I remember standing around on a set researching flower schools—none of which I attended—but knowing flowers would be my new medium. My friend Sabrina [De Sousa] simultaneously was opening Dimes, and I asked if I could create something for the opening which provided the impetus and the forum for me to start my studio. Meta began as a side project while I slowly weaned myself off of photo shoots and styling jobs.
We know florists are early risers. What does a typical morning look like for you?
I grab a coffee and drive up to the flower market, aiming to get there sometime between 7-8am. I peruse the different vendors looking for what I need or wait to get inspired based on what is available that day. It’s ever changing: sometimes I have a clear vision and other days I create as I buy the flowers. From there I head back to the studio to arrange, deliver, install on site, etc.
After scrolling through your feed, we see a clear vision and style in your floral creations. What are the crossovers between your experience in fashion styling, dance and floral design?
I find crossovers between my past in fashion and flowers; I’m still gathering and carrying (many) things and putting them together based on color, texture, and silhouette. Dance has undoubtedly influenced my flowers after studying and creating lines with my body my whole life. I try to create form and shapes within my designs.
NYC is jammed packed with artists and designers like yourself. How does your community inspire your work?
My community and friends are creatives and artists—we inspire and support each other.
I don't think the NYC environment necessarily inspires the work, but rather gives a greater appreciation of the epic beauty and vivid colors of the flowers I source- almost filling a particular void, especially during these winter months. NYC does, however, fulfill other resources of inspiration, whether it's sculpture or seeing my favorite dance company.
Your floral designs are tagged by our favorite brands like Rachel Comey and Outdoor Voices. What's the collaborative process like?
I love to collaborate with clients and their personal aesthetic. It’s such fun to be a part of their process or vision in some small way. Designers usually share a color palette or images of the collection, and we go from there.
What do you love most about being a floral artist?
I love the freedom of my work, and I love the fleeting beauty of it.
As a business owner, what advice would you give other young creatives looking to branch off on their own?
I would tell anyone looking to start their own business or change their career to have a clear vision and manifest what it is you want. Also, fake it ‘til you make it.
Do you send flowers as thank you’s or gifts?
I still send flowers as thank you's and gifts. It seems more thoughtful than ever now that I’m making it myself.
Which florals do you keep in your home and studio?
Usually different varieties of orchids or black callas.
When was the last time you received flowers?
My dear friend brought me flowers when I recently hosted a party. It was an amazing gesture since no one has given me flowers in years! Loved it.
Favorite public green space?
The lawns of Central Park.
What do you want people to experience in your designs?
I want the designs to be enjoyed, admired or perhaps someone appreciates flowers in a new way.
Do you work alone? If not, tell us about your team.
For the most part, I work alone, but I do have help when it's a big event or if it calls for extra hands.
Five things you can't live without?
My Favorite People
Interview: Mariel Kennedy
Design: Alaia Manley