Renwick Wachenfeld of West Hollywood, CA, floral designer for Gelson’s Markets, a 17-store upscale chain with headquarters in Encino, CA, won the Iron Designer contest June 22 at the International Floriculture Expo. He led a field of seven designers from the United States and the Netherlands who had only 20 minutes, a surprise package of flowers, a vase and other ingredients, and the theme of “Romantic Love” to guide them.
A team of judges from the American Institute of Floral Designers picked Mr. Wachenfeld’s arrangement of two hearts held together by bands of foliage and flowers as the winning design.
Mark Frank of the Netherlands finished second with a gigantic bouquet and Robert DeBellis of World Class Flowers in Egg Harbor City, NJ, placed third.
Emcees for the contest, held in front of a cheering crowd at Happy Hour on Center Stage, were Pieter Landman of Blooming Vision in Amsterdam, and Jacob McCall of Lauderdale Lakes, FL, a freelance floral artist who won the Iron Designer contest the past two years.
Other competitors were Elise Blount of Nielsen’s Florist in Darien, CT; Patricia Corbin of Flowers Wedding Boutique in West Hempstead, NY; Tomas Sanchez of Beyond Imagination Celebrations in Corpus Christi, TX; Angela Stembridge, bouquets chef at Fresca Farms in Miami; and Lori Trotter of Hy-Vee Inc. in West Des Moines, IA.
After the spirited competition, holding the crystal prize cup in the shape of a flower, Mr. Wachenfeld said his design was meant to convey “two hearts coming together and tying the knot.” He said that while he often uses exotic materials in the classes he teaches at Gelson’s and other venues, for this competition he only selected materials from the contest “surprise package” that would be on hand as everyday ingredients at a typical supermarket. “I aimed to use everyday materials in a new way,” he said.