Sarah working on the February arrangement
In our banaboxer spotlight each month, we catch up with a member of the community to discuss all things ikebana. This month, we spoke with Sarah and Natalie, the Dallas-based sisters behind We The Birds, a fashion and lifestyle brand with a beautiful instagram that also sells delicious macarons!
When were you introduced to ikebana?
Sarah: We’ve been exposed to many Asian practices, thanks to the years we spent in Singapore and traveling across Asia. I’m certain that we’ve seen ikebana arrangements many times before. Then a few years ago, Natalie visited a friend’s mom who is very skilled in the art of ikebana and she learned more about the practice. Finally, we discovered banabox last year and that’s when we were formally introduced to the practice and started making our own ikebana floral arrangements.
What do you most enjoy about banabox?
Natalie: We look forward to our banabox arriving every month. We argue over who will be the one to assemble it. It's a really therapeutic, calming practice. We work with our hands constantly, making French macarons, but the practice of ikebana gives us an opportunity to make something just for fun. Flowers are a different creative medium and we welcome the opportunity to take a little break from our day-to-day to assemble the arrangement.
If we visited your home, where would we find your finished arrangements?
Sarah: We actually like to display the arrangement at our office space. The backdrop is white with black accents, very minimal, so it's a perfect place to feature the banabox arrangement. It’s also a great conversation starter!
Which month's arrangement has been your favorite so far?
Sarah: The January arrangement! I’m a big fan of baby's breath and I really loved the white, dried mitsumata branches. I actually kept both of these materials and put them in another arrangement later. I’ve always been interested in the concept of juxtaposition— in this case the mixing of fresh and dried materials.
An arrangement with leftover material
Help set the scene - when you are making your arrangement, is there music, wine, etc.?
Sarah: I usually assemble the arrangement in the evening hours, after a busy work day. I like to wait for everyone to go home so I have the studio to myself. It's quiet. And I enjoy the alone time. No music necessary. Just me and the flowers.
Natalie: I like to assemble the arrangement in the morning, right when I get into the office. I prefer to do it alone without anyone distractions. It helps me focus and create a sense of calm before a busy day. There is also a feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing the practice.
Natalie at work on a December morning
Do you stick to the instructions or let your creativity guide you to an unexpected result?
Sarah: We always follow the instructions for the foundational pieces to get the overall shape right. But we tend to go off the rails towards the end with finishing touches ;)
Have you ever been to Japan? What was your favorite part?
Natalie: Yes! We’ve landed in the Narita airport more times that we can count (en route to Singapore) but never really spent much time in Japan. A few years ago, we decided to extend our layover in Tokyo and spend a couple days in the glorious city.
The shopping and street style are amazing. Everything feels like a new sensation in Japan. The food, the language, the buildings, the art, the fashion…. I love the architecture in Tokyo – the super narrow and tall buildings come together like puzzle pieces. I also love seeing the masses of stylishly dressed people move in an almost synchronized fashion across the streets of Tokyo. Everything is cool in Japan :)
Ikebana is very tied into the seasonality of the materials. What is your favorite part of this time of year?
Sarah: Spring is probably the most exciting time of year for me. After months of cold weather, I always look forward to spending more time outdoors.
Natalie: I love the vibrant colors and variety of flowers that bloom in Spring. Everything is a bit brighter.
Has your ikebana experience provided any lessons you can apply to other parts of your life?
Sarah: So many lessons:
October's arrangement in progress
Anything else you want to share with the banabox community?
Sarah: Instructions are a good outline. But you don’t have to follow them exactly. No one is checking your work ;) so let your creativity flow.
Natalie: Practice being flexible and kind to yourself. I quickly learned that the instructions are there to serve as a guideline, not a strict set of rules. This has allowed me to work more freely and trust my creative adaptations. There are no two flowers or branches that are exactly alike – and there are no two ikebana arrangements that will ever be exactly the same. Each one is a work of art.
Thanks so much to Sarah and Natalie for joining us for this month's banaboxer spotlight. We always love to hear from the banabox community, so don't hesitate to drop us a line or connect with us on social media (instagram, facebook).