“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?
My favorite clippers from Japan, little scissors, some spools of silk ribbon, floral tape, zip ties, wire, boutonniere pins.
Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel ____________.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.