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Artist Spotlight: A conversation with Rawan Rihani

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You may know her from her wildly beautiful floral design company, Aurora Botanica, with an Instagram account that is a must-follow. But what you're really seeing and experiencing is the creative mind of Rawan Rihani. She started Aurora Botanica in 2015 and it's taken off since then with a thriving editorial, art installation, and wedding presence. A friend and wonderful energy to be around, we sat down with Rawan to learn more about her experience and how she is such an inspirational force in Brooklyn and beyond.

Where are you from originally, and where do you live now? Any favorite neighborhoods in New York? I grew up in Rhode Island and now live in Ditmas Park Brooklyn. My childhood, however, was influenced by my Italian and Jordanian parents and their cultures. One of my favorite neighborhoods is Prospect Heights because the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens is there. I like to take my baby daughter there at least twice a week. I get inspiration there and it's also a source of therapy :)

How did you get into floral design? I've always been captivated by flowers, and they were always a motif for me in any art I created. I studied fine art and fashion design at Rhode Island School of Design and moved to NY to pursue fashion. After working in the industry for years, I was really missing the feeling and connection of working with my hands in a more direct and abstract way. I found a flower shop in Ditmas Park that was looking for helping hands and thought it would be interesting to try out. Once I started, I fell in love with it, and haven't stopped since! Creating with flowers and arrangements connects to so many types of art that I love making. There are painterly elements, sculptural elements, and fashion/style too that can be a strong part of creating arrangements/installations, but it's not as lonely as making art. Creating with flowers is a social experience. My team and I are always creating for a purpose (wedding, birthday, celebration, or to lift someone's spirits up) so there is a social connection that makes me feel that I'm really connecting to people, and that feels good.

Tell us about your process and how you find inspiration for the florals you design. Music, a song, a movie, a ballet, poetry??? Inspiration is a mysterious thing I'm not in control of, but I tap into in when I'm working with my hands and creating, and hope I can evoke the feelings I feel through the flowers and my arrangements by blending colors/ textures/ and structure.

What are some of your favorite flowers and plants? Just like my clothes, I go through phases of colors and flowers that are my favorites - it kind of changes by the season for me. This season, my favorite flowers are locally grown garden roses and dahlias... they have my heart. In the flower market, my favorites are butterfly ranunculus and cymbidium orchids. As for plants, I love a beautiful thriving fig tree!

Are there any bucket list events or ideas you would like to come to fruition with your designs? I would love to just take over a space and create an installation that transcends a church or an art gallery. I just want to create a dreamworld and take over a space so that people can wander through and explore the space and feel enchanted and closer to magic/a dreamworld.

Do you have a favorite arrangement you've created or project that you've worked on? A recent favorite was a friend's private record release, (my friend Karlie Bruce) where I created flower arrangements that surrounded the guests while her album played. I really enjoyed seeing the flowers and music come together.

What is your favorite room in your home and why? Any favorite objects with a special meaning? Our living room because I have a record player and have collected tons of vintage records over the years.

Where are some of your favorite places to travel? I loved traveling to Morocco, which was 3 years ago. It was such a vibrant and old city filled with so much art, textiles, clothing and there was dancing in the streets and a market place filled with chaos and beauty. I also loved the Yves St. Laurent's gardens, Jardine Majorelle in Marrakech.

Follow Rawan's amazing work on Instagram at @aurorabotanica

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