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February 04, 2020
The Spark: Talking to Bloom & Plume’s Maurice Harris

Photo by Emily Malan

You might have seen Maurice Harris’ work in a Microsoft commercial where gigantic flowers come to life in a surreal, over-the-top installation. Or maybe you’ve come across his boldly colored arrangements on Instagram. The founder of Bloom & Plume, a Los Angeles-based floral studio with an adjacent coffee shop, creates striking pieces for the likes of Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and more. Inspired by his grandmother, who was also a florist, Harris explores race, beauty, and inequality through his work by juxtaposing thoughtful captions and tasteful nudes with his floral arrangements.

We caught up with Harris in between client appointments where he chatted about his love of YouTube, his Korean spa routine, and why he waited to try cannabis. 

On his relationship with cannabis: I’m the oldest in my family so I have this burden to overachieve. Plus, we have a history of mental illness that’s triggered by drug use so I’ve always been very careful about how I approach regulated substances. I never said a word of profanity until I turned 18 or drink a sip of alcohol until my 21st birthday. 

Because of that, I didn’t consume cannabis until it was legal. Now I’ll use it recreationally to chill out and quiet my crazy mind.I love a CBD tincture to help me relax but I’ll also occasionally use dosist’s bliss pen. I’m pretty creative and dynamic when I’m sober but that means I’m always thinking too. It’s hard to turn it off and sometimes I need to escape.

On the highs and lows of his job: I love transforming spaces, making beautiful things, and bringing joy in unexpected ways for people. Beauty is such a seductress and I use it as a tool to speak about deeper issues surrounding inequality, race dynamics, and cultural constraints of beauty. The challenge is finding a sustainable way to keep my creativity alive. Capitalism doesn't care about my creativity at all. I’m not able to get into the trenches and create as much because I need to run a business. 

On what inspires him: It’s a loaded question because I feel like as a person of color, I'm not afforded the luxury of going around and being inspired. I literally am paying attention to everything from how I engage with YouTube to the different characters I see on Instagram to the colors on the runway at Valentino couture.  

On his proudest moment: My most epic insane moment was being an artist in the Manny Farber group show at MOCA. I made these crazy arrangements and then would spend hours covering them in Swarovski crystals plus other accents. Every week, for 24 weeks, we’d change out the piece. It was based off of the relationship my grandmother and I had — she’s the source of my creative process. It was an homage to her because she was never recognized in that way but now I can use my platform to honor her.

On his daytime schedule: I’m not a morning person but that’s also when I’m the most productive. Forcing myself out of a bed is a battle. I’ll wake up between six to eight thirty and then I’ll say my morning mantras. I tell myself, “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.” I also have other ones that my dad told us as children as well as private ones, just for me. The moment I get out of bed, I make it. It’s the only thing I can commit to every day besides brushing my teeth.

Theoretically I’ll go to the gym but if not, I’ll walk over to the cafe for some breakfast as I live two blocks away. I love our oatmeal and coconut yogurt parfait. After I eat, I head back home to work since our studio space is small. No two days are the same when you run two businesses so I could be doing everything from meetings to installations. When it comes to lunch and dinner, I don’t cook so I’ll order from Postmates, Uber or nearby restaurants like Sqrl and Doubting Thomas (love their breakfast burrito!). 

On his evenings: I stop working anywhere from 5:30 to 10 p.m. It’s such a range and really depends on what needs to be done or to be honest, when I run out of steam. To get my brain off things I’ll watch stuff on YouTube — makeup tutorials, ingrown hair extractions, you name it. Or I’ll play games on my phone to turn my brain off before sleeping.

On Korean spas: I try to go at least once a week or every other week. I have a ritual where I dip in the warm pool for 15 minutes, followed by five minutes in both the hot and cold pools. I repeat the hot and cold pools soak one more time before hitting the steam room for 30 minutes. I love it because you’re there just to sit and have “me time.”

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