What’s In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go

What's In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go, on Design*Sponge

“Fresh eyes solve a lot of things,” says Sammy Go, the owner and director of Lambert Floral Studio in San Francisco, CA. After helping his mom reimagine their front yard plantings while just a teenager, Sammy became fascinated by wanting to “take something that already exists with so much beauty and then arrange it in such a way as to convey something new.” The studio, named for his grandfather, designs arrangements for events with Sammy’s signature contrast of “soft romantic flowers and crisp branding, grandeur and candidness, heirloom and modernity.”

Sammy advises artists to follow their own individual voices, and not be swayed by trends. “Let your work flow from who you are and how you see — only you can create the way you can,” he offers. At the same time, the successful entrepreneur acknowledges that businesses must consciously grow and change to survive. Taking notes from major fashion labels, Sammy watches “how these brands wrestle with progressing creatively while maintaining reverence for the core heartbeat of the house.” Contemporary dance is another place where Sammy seeks inspiration in his own physical work. “I really respect choreographers for being able to respond to the mood of a song through their own movement,” he articulates. “I think that’s what I’m trying to do with flowers.” —Annie

Photography by June Kim

What's In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go, on Design*Sponge

What’s in your toolbox?

My favorite clippers from Japan, little scissors, some spools of silk ribbon, floral tape, zip ties, wire, boutonniere pins.

What's In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go, on Design*Sponge

Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel ____________.”

thankful.

What's In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go, on Design*Sponge

What’s on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Nicolette Owen’s Bringing Nature Home has been my favorite book for the past two years. It lives less on my bookshelf and more on my nightstand because I end up leafing through it before bedtime so often. I’ve loved Piet Oudolf’s work and books ever since I was in school — he creates the most evocative, experiential plant palettes for the landscape. And not flower-related, but I really like Eddie Huang’s memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, as a mantra for Asian-American business owners in creative fields. It’s also super funny.

I’m attempting to learn more about big fashion houses — Dior, Saint Laurent, Chanel. It fascinates me how these brands wrestle with progressing creatively while maintaining reverence for the core heartbeat of the house. I want my flowers to feel modern with a clear timelessness, but I’m still figuring out how to do that. I’m inspired by how the fashion industry interacts with this.

What's In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go, on Design*Sponge

How do you keep yourself organized?

This is the struggle du jour! I’m naturally a very spontaneous, spread-out person — and easily distracted when I get to stare at flowers all day. So I have a lot of checks and balances — Google Calendar plus a paperbound planner, to-do lists, Post-Its that I end up losing, my wife.

What's In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go, on Design*Sponge

If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

I have always wanted to control water. Visually dramatic, can be used in either gentle or forceful manner, potentially ecologically useful…

What's In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go, on Design*Sponge

What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist, maker, or designer?

This is hard! Best advice… your identity is not defined by your activity. Our worth cannot be founded in what we produce.

And my advice? This is even harder! Be authentic. Don’t let whatever is “trending” dictate your artistic voice. That’s what creates an insular industry. Let your work flow from who you are and how you see — only you can create the way you can.

What's In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go, on Design*Sponge

How do you combat creative blocks?

I’ll walk away and let my eyes rest. Fresh eyes solve a lot of things. I’ll pray for divine creative intervention. And I’ll change the music.

What's In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go, on Design*Sponge

Where do you like to look or shop for inspiration?

I find myself being inspired often by a feeling, a mood, an evocation. Something abstract that’s then translated. So for inspiration, I love watching contemporary dance. Mainly through YouTube videos! I really respect choreographers for being able to respond to the mood of a song through their own movement. I think that’s what I’m trying to do with flowers. Take something that already exists with so much beauty and then arrange it in such a way as to convey something new.

I also love plant nurseries (my favorites are Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco, Flowerland in Albany, and Berkeley Horticultural Nursery in Berkeley) and the botanical garden. I’ll flip through garden books often to find new plants whose flowers or foliage could potentially be used in arrangements.

And most often, I find myself waking up early to head down to the flower mart where I’ll wander and see what’s available. It’s a huge privilege to have such an amazing mart and I’m super thankful for it. It’s really fun to see the seasons change as the flower varieties rotate.

What's In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go, on Design*Sponge

If you could peek inside the studio or toolbox of any artist, maker, designer, or craftsperson, whose would it be and why?

Anna Sheffield. She made my wife’s engagement and wedding rings and it’s the most beautiful piece of jewelry I’ve ever seen. I have no idea how she does it. That ring sings. It’s amazing.

What's In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go, on Design*Sponge

What’s on your inspirational playlist at the moment?

Odesza — All We Need. On repeat. My iTunes tells me I’ve listened to it 848 times. That’s disgusting and real.

What's In Your Toolbox: Sammy Go, on Design*Sponge

  1. Joan Jacobs says:

    Lovely arrangements. I can almost smell the newly cut greens and flowers.

  2. Dallas says:

    Such beautiful, peaceful, and happy images. Great interview full of wise words.

  3. Mike says:

    It’s fantastic to see someone so happy with their work. And so creative.. Beautiful.

  4. Darwin says:

    Go Sammy Go!! Beautiful work!

LEAVE A COMMENT

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.