Flower House by Casey Rocheteau

I recently interviewed Lisa Waud, creator of Flower House about her installation

in October, and the launch of her flower farm in Hamtramck. You can currently

purchase a gorgeous Flower House tote from Nora to help support the project.

Casey Rocheteau: Where did you come up with the idea for Flower House?

Lisa Waud: It goes back to a long time love of Christo and his projects with his

wife. Wrapping the bridge in Paris really spoke to me, just to plan something for

so long that is so giant. He’s really appealing to me, that people would travel from

great distances to come and see something just because of the size and the

temporary nature of it. There was also a Dior show from 2012 that I saw, where

they filled a mansion in Paris with flowers, and that also inspired me, just seeing

the walls filled with flowers.

CR: I was interested in the video for Flower House and I was interested in the

idea of temporality, and what is permanent and what is impermanent, especially

in a place like Detroit, so I wondered if you knew who lived in the house before,

or was the video an imagined idea of who might have lived there?

LW: We know bits and pieces. As we’ve been working in the house, neighbors

have stopped by and the puzzle is being filled in. We get segments here and

there from different people. I know that in the 50s the house that the preview took

place in, there’s a little console truck and that used to be a TV repair shop. We

have these great visuals from there, people waiting for their TVs to be fixed.

CR: The house, I go by it on my way to work on Thursdays, it’s sort of alongside

I-75, on the service drive.

LW: In picturing where Flower House would take place, I started to think about

buying a house at auction. I had an idea that I wanted it to be in a place with

empty lots and I wanted it to feel a little lonely. I wanted you to feel the

juxtaposition when you walked in from outside and it’s this weathered, dilapidated

structure and you walk in and it’s filled with flowers. So I had a general idea of

what I wanted, but I would never have thought I would love for it to be on a one-

way service drive off 75, it’s just kind of perfect. It speaks a little more to the

temporary fleeting feeling of it, because you whoosh go right by there and no one

thinks twice about it until there are 15 florists hauling flowers in.

CR: The florists that are coming to put flowers in the house are from all around

the country. What was the process of finding florists and figuring out what that

would look like? Also, if you could speak a little bit about why you’re using

American grown flowers.

LW: There’s a movement happening around being aware of where cut flowers

come from. There’s a woman out in Seattle named Debra Prinzing, she’s coined

this phrase and spearheaded this movement referred to as “slow flowers”, much

like the slow food movement. It’s about being aware of the farmers that grow

your flowers and really trying to decrease the amount of flowers that we bring in

from Bolivia and Ecuador and everywhere else but here. It seems like kind of an

obvious choice that we would use American grown flowers, because it’s been

this sort of rallying cry. When we sent our wish-list to wholesalers that we work

with, it was kind of a Hail Mary—“here’s this ridiculously long list of flowers, and

maybe we’ll get a few”. And all three wholesalers fulfilled the whole list, and then

as they told growers about the project, they donated more and more. It was

pretty heartening when we were waiting for the flowers to come for the preview


And then to answer your question about florists: there’s a pretty fierce tight-knit

group of florists here in southeast Michigan and they were the first to sign on to

help me with this project. There are five florists on the unofficial board, even

though we’re not a non-profit, so that’s filled five rooms. So between local florists

and florists that we know that have a similar style, we have eleven rooms spoken

for, and we have fifteen rooms. So we’re actually about to launch an application

process doing a call for entries. It’s not necessarily a competition, we just want to

make sure we have florists that are likeminded and really understand the project

and can speak about it well.

CR: Some of the images, and the video that I’ve seen for Flower House remind

me of, or are reminiscent of, some of the images of “ruin porn”—like where you

see an old plant, or opera house taken over by vegetation, and I wondered how

you think the project contributes to narratives about Detroit?

LW: I like to think of it as maybe a tipping point from people from out of state to

maybe come visit and see Detroit for the first time, and book a trip to come visit,

check out new restaurants and see the exhibit. As far as the narrative, I realize

it’s using an abandoned house as a canvas for this project, but I don’t think we’re

showcasing that it’s sad or overwhelming. It really is one last hurrah for this

house before we bring the house down. I feel like this house has been lonely,

and we’re going to throw it one last party. I like that personification of the house,

like “I’m waiting around here for someone to notice me”.

CR: So what’s going to happen to the house when it’s torn down?

LW: If you simplified the story of this, it’s really that I’m launching a flower farm

on this property in Hamtramck, but two giant things are going to happen before

that. First is the installation. Then there’s the demolition. We’ve partnered with

Reclaim Detroit and they will be bundling up the materials that can be used for

other projects in the city and they’ll be able to divert up to 75% of the materials

from the landfill, which is really phenomenal.

Flower House Totes are available at Nora and all proceeds go to benefit this wonderful project.

To purchase Flower House Tote Bag  http://noramodern.com/products/flower-house-tote-bag

To learn more about Flower House please visit http://www.theflower.house



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