L’Olivier, the sleek floral design atelier on Manhattan’s West 14th Street is a long way from Brignoles, the Provençal village between St Tropez and Aix en Provence where Olivier Giugni grew up. Yet the warmth, whimsy, style and bursts of color this floral artist brought from his native Southern France are unmistakable. “Les couleurs c’est la vie!” he exclaims. His mantra: life is color and color is life. And Olivier has been adding sumptuous color and life to New York City, his adopted home, since 1986.
In November 2010, Simon & Schuster releases Olivier’s LIVING ART: Style Your Home with Flowers, written with co-author Sylvie Bigar. From Restaurant Daniel to an 87th-floor city penthouse, from The Carlyle to a lakeside cottage, from Renée Fleming’s music room to a downtown loft, Olivier’s unique talent blooms through his living medium, flowers. The second half of the book is dedicated to a “How To” section where the reader can learn simple as well as intricate solutions to create gorgeous arrangement.
Describing his signature style Olivier explains, “My work has movement and depth. It is never flat”. He pioneered the leaf wrapped vase, an innovation that adds a striking sense of architecture. His floral arrangements swathed in supple and silky leaves of South African philodendron have become a trademark, along with splashes of green, often in unexpected branches of rosemary, mint or bay leaf. Considered one of the city’s most prestigious floral artists, Olivier’s first name alone now suffices to refer to this talented Frenchman. A-list New Yorkers from the worlds of fashion, finance and fine arts call upon his dramatic, one-of-a-kind arrangements to transform home and work place. From the renowned restaurants of Chef Daniel Boulud, to the public spaces of the legendary Carlyle Hotel or the model apartments of the city’s top real estate developers, New York is all the lovelier for Olivier’s weekly additions.
Yet Olivier is now equally known for his event and wedding design. What L’Olivier Soirees and Galas clients find is a trove of creativity, warmth and generosity: a topiary menagerie of giraffes and monkeys fashioned from green mousse parading down the Guggenheim Museum’s spiral galleries; a sultry sea of hanging plants for a Cigar Aficionado Magazine Cuban Cigar Lounge; charming little red wagons overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables for Citymeals-on-Wheels gala dinner centerpieces.
This self taught artist’s talent was first recognized by the legendary Pierre Cardin, who hand picked Olivier to create the look of Les Fleurs de Maxims in Paris, Tokyo and then to open Les Fleurs de Maxims on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue. Cardin sensed Olivier’s innate elegance, the priceless kind that can come only from within. Olivier would in turn be inspired by the world of fashion and art, applying a uniquely fluid approach to plants, greenery and flowers as though they were cut from supple and luxurious fabric. Not limited by the constraints of formal training, he is a true original who finds inspiration in out of the ordinary materials and sources. “I have rarely looked to the work of other florists, because my ideas so often come from outside the world of flowers,” explains Olivier.
Adding entrepreneurship to his artistry, Olivier opened his first boutique in 1994 at 19 East 76th Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, with the second, called L’Olivier Downtown, following in 2004 in Chelsea at 213 West 14th Street. It latter is not only a boutique but also serves as an event venue for product launches and receptions, many of which are held in the boutique’s enchanting private garden. At both the uptown and downtown boutiques the beauty of the natural word and the appeal of contemporary design are seamlessly juxtaposed with our urban environment.