Located in the beautiful heart of Boston you will find The Rittners School of Floral Design lead by it’s director, Steve Rittner. With Steve’s Doctorate in Education combined with an extensive knowledge of floral design, Rittners School of Floral Design creates a unique experience of learning that has structure but stays true to the school’s free spirit and enjoyable atmosphere. Rittners School of Floral Design has been in the Rittner family for two generations with floral design stretching three generations.
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What does Rittners School of Floral Design take the greatest pride in from its floral education programs?
We have a range of offerings for differing demographic needs. If a student is seeking a longer program in floral art, we offer it, if a student is busy during the day and needs a part time solution at night we have that as well, and we also offer Concentrated Programs for folks who need strong courses of short duration. good, solid educational practices are used at our school. I am a floral designer as well as an educator, I apply my professional knowledge of curriculum design and development as well as my floral art skills to my teaching.
I am quite proud of bringing our curriculum and also our teaching approaches into the 21st Century by skillfully using the latest tools of web-based resources, digital content, and digital delivery systems integrated with live demonstrations and hands-on workshop training. Our programs are designed to be informative and comprehensive yet enjoyable and fun!
What has been one of the most interesting floral topics you have taught so far in your career?
We constantly monitor trends and approaches being done in the field and constantly update. The programs we offer today cover things that were unheard of in Grandfather’s day. In the early days of the school such things as hand tied sprays and wire funeral frames with moss mechanics were taught. That was then. This is now. As of the date of this interview we teach such things as the use of gel beads and small lights in floral art, modular floral art, use of tropicals and various contemporary forms of water based designing and structure. We think in terms of things people are likely to encounter in commercial use. The curriculum and methods of presentation are constantly evolving, I love that aspect of my job!￼￼
What struggles do independent floral schools face that major university programs or floral shops don’t have to face?
Independent Floral Schools vs. Flower Shops and University Programs Spending time in a flower shop can be a good way of telling if floral designing as a field is something you would enjoy, but it is not an ideal environment for optimal learning. The primary focus of a flower shop is to meet consumer’s emotional needs through various floral products and services. Floral shops are really set up for floral art production not training. It is not optimal to try to learn a motor performance task when there is a deadline to turn out the work and the focus is on the product for a customer, not the development of the person doing the designing.
Floral staff are skilled artists, not trained or certified teachers. It is wonderful when one can find an enlightened floral designer willing to “train” but the skill set to do that optimally is rare. The whole concept of the “floral design school” is to eliminate outmoded and inefficient apprenticeship approaches. Many flower shop owners would prefer it if the person seeking employment already has some design training, and simply needs to be shown the unique approaches of that shop.
A major requirement of any floral designing program is providing materials for students to use in their designing. This can be a challenge in a University setting where even providing a few chemicals for a chemistry lab is a stretch. In addition, Universities tend to provide all kinds of peripheral courses (eg. Psychology 101 to assist students in dealing with customers, etc.).
The purpose of an Independent Floral School is to teach very specific floral design skills and to provide lots of hands-on training with plenty of flowers and materials. The challenge to the independent floral school is to provide quality flowers, and materials and still keep the courses affordable.
In your personal opinion what are some of the shortcomings in floral education that the industry should strive towards working on?
I think that the shortcomings are not those in the floral education sector but rather in the public perception of the floral industry as a whole.
One of the biggest obstacles that we face is that people think that because flowers are “natural” and grow in nature, that somehow flowers have or should have low monetary value. There is always the “sticker shock” when people learn that flowers actually cost money. Florists encounter that all the time when designing for Weddings and Events. The same dynamic applies to floral education.
Similarly many folks don’t realize that to design with flowers is more than a matter of simply dropping a few flowers into a vase and posing. It does require some very specific skills. It’s amazing how many folks don’t realize that, and underestimate the skills that one needs to be an effective floral designer and that designers need to be compensated for their skills.
This is an internal Floral Industry Issue: Many floral designers love to complain about how hard they work or about other industry issues.There are a lot of very positive things about being a floral designer. We enjoy the creative aspect. We enjoy helping people and making their lives better through floral art. EVERY field has its advantages and its drawbacks. If we want to continue to attract talent to our field, florists should be positive in their public comments about our industry. If you don’t feel positive, you shouldn’t be in the field or stay in the field. We need to get the word out internally in our field.
With our ever-changing industry, where have you seen the floral industry change the most over the past 5-10 years? And where do you see the floral industry heading?
There are so many. We could talk about the impact of online shopping. We could talk about consumers becoming better educated by exposure to a huge range of floral art ideas from cultures all over the world. We could talk about changing customs regarding sending flowers for sympathy. We could talk about the impact of studies that empirically show how floral products make people happier and impact positively on our lives…..All of these have changed our field and will continue to do so….
But one change that I find particularly interesting is the fact that floral designing these days can be described in one word…. “Eclectic.”
We have a situation today where floral designers are creating things for their clients that are representative of a huge range of approaches. For example florists sell crowns of flowers… a kind of design that can (with varied mechanics) be traced back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Floral Designers design in water. But guess what? Styles in water can be traced back hundreds of years, along with the hand tied bouquets that are all the rage now.
The bottom line is that ancient forms of floral art are now coexisting and marketed along with new and contemporary ideas. It means that the concept of a designing style or approach being “old” and therefore “less desirable” or “new” and therefore “more valued,” has lost much of its meaning. (In spite of our insistence of talking about new styles and trends).
At Rittners Floral School we teach our students that the ultimate goal is to be able to meet consumers emotional needs through floral art that incorporates both older and newer approaches to achieve whatever look or approach is desired.
And where do you see the industry heading?
I think there will always be a need for floral designers to create things that will amaze, delight and make people’s lives better. There will always be a need to celebrate important life cycle events and occasions using flowers and their design.
But the future is ours to shape and create….I would like to see a continuity of the kind of fascinating eclecticism mentioned above.
I would like to see a greater understanding by the public of floral art, as an art form that requires knowledge and discipline.
Just as people enjoy their daily cup of coffee or their glass of wine with dinner I would like to see flowers and floral art becoming an important part of everyday life.
What do you think are some of the top floral educational advancements that have helped progress the industry?
I think that modern communication technology– computers, digital photography/videos and the internet have certainly played a major role in floral education as well as moving the industry forward.
The fact that a floral designer can post photos or videos of his/her work online and within seconds have other floral designers see it all over the planet certainly allows sharing, and a much faster rate of disseminating information than ever in the history of humankind. It is truly wonderful to take advantage of this wealth of resources in our classrooms.
However, it is simplistic to say that technology alone provides the best educational solutions. Just because we have the technology doesn’t mean that it’s always being used well. (We have all heard the phrase, “death by powerpoint.”) You can present a floral technique from a distance. That doesn’t assure that the person watching can adequately absorb or perform the task. Having a master teacher actually present to provide guidance and feedback is important.
I think that all too often web based approaches are used to avoid human contact or to provide self-serve solutions. At Rittners Floral School we use the best features of the new media, but we also are quite aware of their potential shortcomings and pitfalls. In our diploma programs we combine the new technologies with live demonstrations and hands-on floral designing labs–the best of both worlds.
Where are the best outlets for designers to look for floral education courses in their area’s or internationally?
The choice of seeking floral education should involve trying to make a good match between the student’s needs, their schedule and available programs.
Picking a program or workshop simply to say that one studied with a specific individual or in a particular location may be ego enhancing, but is not necessarily an indicator of a good match or fit as far as what you will actually learn.
I think that the student should reach out to the person in charge of a program and talk with him/her. Is the boss actually teaching? Is it a real school, or just a traveling show? Is there a real commitment to the student that will extend beyond the hours of class time? Remember that just being a content expert is not a guarantee of good communication or teaching skills. Does the program actually have a facility with back up resources such as library, media equipment to enhance the teaching, etc. or is it in a temporary borrowed space? And how is the personal chemistry between the student and the instructor? All of these factors should be considered when deciding to take a class or workshop.
Do you have a philosophy when it comes to floral education?
Our Philosophy In Floral Education Teaching floral art is our primary function at Rittners, not a sideline or an extra outlet. It is what we do. Our philosophy is to provide courses in professional floral designing skills that give outstanding value… To provide the kind of course that one would recommend to family and friends. We believe in providing courses that are complete packages, not in programs that require students to take a huge number of separate programs without closure. We measure success in teaching floral designing by focusing on the quality of our courses and on a student centered approach.
Rittners School of Floral Design Website: www.floralschool.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 617-267-3824 Class Schedule Social Media Facebook Youtube
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