Designer Spotlight… Rachel Cho

From flowers to fashion and then back to flowers, meet New York native Rachel Cho of Rachel Cho Floral Design.

Rachel Cho
Rachel Cho

Jamali Garden: You were surrounded by flowers from childhood.
Rachel Cho: I grew up working at my mom’s Bronx flower shop. As a little kid, I saw flowers as symbols of weekends wasted and work I didn’t want to do. They made my hands wet and cold, and there were always more of them to cut!

JG: When did you start Rachel Cho Floral Design?
RC: After I graduated from Smith, I moved back to New York to work in the fashion industry. My time in fashion gave me a new appreciation for my mom (and florists in general). I came to realize that they were highly skilled designers, designers whose “fabric” was flowers. I wanted to see if I could fuse these new areas of awareness into my own business – a “high fashion” floral design studio. With this idea in mind, I started what is now Rachel Cho Floral Design in 2005. I haven’t looked back since!


JG: Tell us about your design style.
RC: I would characterize my style as clean, structural, dynamic. I love playing with texture and color in unexpected ways; it gives arrangements an intense depth. My key focus is to design in a way that accentuates the form of each bloom, leaf, and stem, so that the eye can absorb the beauty of the individual flower in relation to the overall composition. I love detailing and I’m always on the search for highly textured specialty elements!

"Modern in the Fall' wedding ceremony aisle.
“Modern in the Fall’ wedding ceremony aisle. (photo: Lyn Hughes Photography)

JG: We love the green & white floral mix for this wedding ceremony aisle. Tell us a bit more about this ‘Modern In The Fall’ wedding theme?
RC: This was such a fun, gorgeous wedding. Clean lines and simplicity were extremely important to this chic couple. It made for an unbelievably elegant affair. The bride and groom were so in touch with their own personal style and they style didn’t allow this sometimes easily clichéd season they got married in, to sidetrack them from that. The wedding aisle is lined with Mojito and white hydrangeas, larkspur, stock, peppergrass, bush ivy, and green hanging amaranthus.

White calla lily wedding bouquet.
White calla lily wedding bouquet. (photo: Lyn Hughes Photography)

JG: The calla lily bouquet is both classic and modern at the same time. Was it a specific request from the bride?
RC: Yes, it was. Her focus here was to carry something down the aisle that was both feminine and clean, romantic and graphic. I think she achieved that.


Woodland feel: a lantern & moss centerpiece.
Woodland feel: a lantern & moss centerpiece.

JG: This is not from the same wedding but we love the use of greenery for the centerpiece. 
RC: The theme here was a romantic, yet elegant, woodland feel – a sophisticated outdoor wedding. Natural shades of green and white were the color focus. This design is composed of sheet moss, hydrangea florets, and English ivy, with our favorite Jamali Garden copper lantern as the centerpiece.

Succulent centerpiece with zebra haworthia, echeveria, and tillandsia.
Succulent centerpiece with zebra haworthia, echeveria, and tillandsia.

JG: People love succulents. How do  you feel about nonfloral centerpieces with just succulents and greens?
RC: I encourage it! Succulent centerpieces lend a unique, memorable touch and they make great takeaway items for your guests. You can have so much fun with the vessels you use too, from cement pots to fishbowls.


JG: This tablescape brings in some color with the metallics, and we love the look of the baby’s breath.
RC: The bride went for a very glamorous, mixed materials and textures look – glittery table numbers, copper vessels, and gold votives combined with the soft, ethereal airiness of baby’s breath and the plushness of red rose pavés (not pictured). The baby’s breath wasn’t about cutting costs; the bride simply loved the unique, puffy clouds that baby’s breath creates. Whenever we use baby’s breath, we use a high-grade variety whose flowers are plusher and bigger than the average variety.

A pretty, baby's breath centerpiece.
A pretty, baby’s breath centerpiece.


JG: Your ‘Vintage Summer Wedding’ has a beautiful mix of flowers and pretty candlelight. Is this a theme you offer brides? 
RC: It’s not necessarily a specific theme that we offer brides (all of our weddings are customized and “made-to-order” to fit each couple’s unique vision), but I would say that this is an aesthetic that I see appealing to many brides these days. It’s a beautiful, lush look that translates well to most venues and speaks of the romance of days gone by; what’s not to love! For this centerpiece, we filled a brown mercury glass bowl with Sahara roses, Queen Anne’s Lace, Black Knight scabiosa, Red Charm peony, and the piece de resistance, purple artichoke. Tall tea light holders and vintage-look mercury glass votives added pretty candlelight.

'Vintage Summer Wedding' centerpiece.
‘Vintage Summer Wedding’ centerpiece. (photo: Kelsey Combe Photography)
The 'Vintage Summer Wedding' reception room.
The ‘VIntage Summer Wedding’ reception room. (photo: Kelsey Combe Photography)


JG: How can we recreate this pretty orchid display? 
RC: These are oncidium orchids, and we absolutely love them. Find yourself a beautiful fishbowl or other glass vase and place the orchids in the vase, roots down. Line the vase or bowl with sheet moss and fill in all around with orchid wood chips. Carefully stake the orchid’s main stem with bamboo sticks, and you have yourself a beautiful orchid planting.

Fishbowl with oncidium orchids, and Cosmo, the dog.
Fishbowl with oncidium orchids, and Cosmo, the dog.

In front of the fishbowl is Cosmo (full name: Chocolate Cosmos), my precious 7-lb half-Yorkie, half-Norfolk Terrier. He sometimes moonlights as our studio mascot and is everyone’s favorite sidekick. He loves to cuddle, gather sticks in his corner, and prance around the studio with his bouncy ball. He was hamming it up while we were doing the photo shoot so we decided to keep him in the picture!

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