A DUMBO florist known for sprucing up weddings and ritzy restaurants has added the ultimate client to her list: the White House.
Emily Thompson — a floral designer on Jay Street — brought moss, rocks, and a crew of six Brooklyn elves to Washington last month to transform the East Room into a wild wonderland for Christmas.
“It was a total out-of-body experience,” said Thompson, a Park Slope resident and former sculptor. “We worked incredibly long hours, but we kept going with so much energy. It had everything to do with where we were.”
Thompson was floored when she got the call from Laura Dowling, the White House florist, asking her to be a guest florist for a holiday display that transforms every room of the president’s pad into a winter wonderland.
So after Thanksgiving dinner, she and her husband drove a pickup truck to the capital, hauling large rocks plucked from her father’s country property in Vermont.
“I wanted to bring the outdoors in,” Thompson said. “It was a natural and wild approach, but very grand in effect.”
Presidents past and present have utilized the East Room — the largest room in the house — for receptions, banquets and press conferences. It’s where First Lady Abigail Adams hung laundry, President Woodrow Wilson created a temporary movie theater and President Jimmy Carter’s daughter skidded on roller-skates.
Dowling put up very few limitations for Thompson.
“I was shocked at how much freedom and support I was given to do it my way,” Thompson said.
Her crew spent a week covering windows, mirrors and presidential portraits with twists of garland and copper leaf and creating a mountain majesty of raw stones on the mantelpieces. Here and there were finishing touches of velvet and exotic flourishes of cedar and amaryllis.
Thompson lit up four giant trees and even built gardens using moss from a forest near her mother’s home in New Hampshire. White House staff sprayed it with water to keep it alive.
On Nov. 30, her work was done. First Lady Michelle Obama invited military families to a first peak at the national holiday decorations and held a press conference in Thompson’s ethereal getaway.
Thompson never got to meet the president or the First Lady, but she heard second-hand that they loved her installation. Still, she’s hoping for a return trip.
“It’s possible that they’ll call on me to come back for my rocks,” Thompson said. “I’m still bowled over. It was hard to leave such a wonderful project.”
Emily Thompson Flowers [57 Jay St. at Water Street in DUMBO, (323) 896-1494]. For info, visit www.emilythompsonflowers.com.
Reach Kate Briquelet at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.