2022 Speaker Profile: Nicole Cordier
Meet floral and botanical artist Nicole Cordier. Contributor Jo Ellen Meyers-Sharp recently profiled Nicole for this Slow Flowers Summit feature.
Nicole Cordier’s love of flowers germinated when she was a sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder, majoring in geology. “I started working at a local flower shop, and eventually learned floral design techniques,” Nicole says. Plants were a more pleasant tactile experience than geology, but she stuck with the nitty-gritty study of the planet.
After graduation, she stayed in Colorado and joined a geological software company. A subsequent move to Seattle returned Nicole to floristry, when she became the first manager of the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. Living and working in the Pacific Northwest "set me on fire -- everything from the plant material to the quality of light there," she explains. During her time in Seattle, she collaborated on a floral installation in collaboration with Rizaniño Reyes of RHR Horticulture, which won the People’s Choice Award at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show.
Now living on the Big Island, Nicole is a floral designer and one of the managers at Grace Flowers Hawaii. She creates personal floral art projects for her studio Cordier Botanical Art.
Above: Prism Project (c) Heather Stadler
Science, light and other elements influence Nicole’s approach to botanical art. She loves to study how light interacts with foliage, blooms, and other natural elements. Of a piece titled "Prism Project," she wrote on her website:
“Perhaps this was a nod to that science experiment in a dark grade school room where you shine light through a prism and have a sense of wonder being able to create your own personal little rainbow. Since I seem to be obsessed by the way light interacts with flowers, what would happen if that light refracted from a prism interacted with a “wall” of white flowers? Photographs capture that same sense of delight and awe I felt as a kid and still do now.”
As a manager and designer at Grace Flowers Hawaii, “I look at flowers a little differently. I play them and experiment with new and different ways to combine their colors and textures."
During the pandemic, Nicole said she was in a creative rut. She still found her job rewarding and challenging, but “I found myself seeing flowers as dollars and cents and had lost the ability to look at them as the perfectly beautiful beings that they are and deserve to be regarded as,” she wrote on her blog.
Inspired by floral designer Françoise Weeks, Nicole began foraging for petals, leaves, pods and vines growing on her two-acre property. She assembled and arranged the elements on a flat surface, stepping back and gazing in awe at the diversity of the flowers and foliage of her creation.
Above: Nicole's original composition (c) Elyse Fujioka
It was that experience that brought to life the cover of Black Flora: Profiles of Inspiring Black Flower Farmers + Florists by Teresa J. Speight.
The book was published by Bloom Imprint in March 2022, featuring Elyse Fujioka's photography of Nicole's vivid composition of tropical flowers, foliage and fronds.
Teresa recalls interviewing Nicole about her artistic journey. “Nicole mentioned having disappointment over her career choice and recalled discomfort while working for a geological software firm as a woman and a minority," Teresa explains. "I'm so happy we have Nicole's floral interpretations, which express her sentiments about the world and the realities of her life."
The author continues: "I cried when I saw the cover. It really touched my heart. When I learned that Nicole had created it, I was not surprised. The talents of Black florists often goes unnoticed. Black florists use freedom found in flowers to express deep emotion by using color, texture, and the senses. We often use whatever is available and make it work. Nicole walked the grounds around her home, pulled from the native landscape, and created a stunning floral work of art.”
In addition to her floral design demonstration at the Slow Flowers Summit, Nicole, the mother of a seven-year-old son, plans to talk about ways to combat burnout, something she experienced a couple of years ago. “It’s quite common in the creative professions,” she acknowledges.
Among her recommendations: “Experiment with different design choices, look at unfamiliar color and textures pairings, and chose unconventional ingredients for your designs. Have fun.”
Slow Flowers Summit welcomes Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp as our profile contributor for the 2022 season. Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp is the Hoosier Gardener. She’s a 25-year, award-winning veteran of print journalism and owner of Write for You! LLC, a freelance writing and editing business. You can find her blog at hoosiergardener.com. Jo Ellen is immediate past president of GardenComm: GardenCommunicators International. She's the former editor of four regional gardening magazines. She is a garden coach and has a four-season commercial and residential container planting business. For nearly 25 years, she has worked at a large, independent garden center in Indianapolis, including a stint as buyer of perennials, trees and shrubs. A popular speaker, she has more than 50 5-star reviews at greatgardenspeakers.org.