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NEW YORK — Here’s a list of decidedly unfashionable things: sunflower seeds, scaffolding, carnations, bobblehead dogs, aquarium gravel and Gatorade. But most seasoned New York partygoers know that in the hands of Avi Adler and David Stark, who together run Avi Adler Inc., a synthesis of the banal and the kitsch can turn a dance floor or a white box into a glamorous, one-night amusement park.
On Wednesday, the pair celebrated their first book, “Wild Flowers,” with a party at Lair, Tiffany Dubin’s vintage fantasia on the second floor of Henri Bendel. The book offers a series of lighthearted lessons in flower design, and for those partial to a Pop Art-inflected esthetic (which includes a bouquet of marabou feathers in a vase of, yes, blue Gatorade), “Wild Flowers” will be an eye-opener.
“People don’t call us for the conservative white weddings,” Stark says with a chuckle. Rather, their business was built out of taking materials that aren’t typically thought of as chic — like carnations — and making them so by presenting them in novel ways.
And so the aim of “Wild Flowers” is to present projects that are easy to accomplish in materials that are accessible and affordable. Not every grown-up will go for Adler’s candy-corn murals, but this July 4th, more than a few Hamptons houses will covet a pool full of his giant red-and-white balls of carnations.
Adler and Stark, who are a couple, met 12 years ago in front of an apple stand at the Union Square farmer’s market. They had both been painters, and Adler was experimenting with flower design.
“There was one pivotal event,” says Stark. “About eight years ago, we were called in by the New York City Opera, where Carolyne Roehm was the chairlady of their gala. Carolyne said, ‘Well, it’s clear that you guys make beautiful flowers, but this party isn’t about flowers.’ It dawned on us that not every party has to have flowers.” So Adler and Stark took a simple but gutsy tack. They decorated the State Theater with industrial scaffolding and thousands of candles.
Since then, Avi Adler Inc. has built environments for lavish parties for the Whitney Museum (70,000 white carnations) and for the CFDA (a video of a swimming pool projected onto the floor and surrounded by real lawn furniture). They also have catered to some of society’s biggest blowouts, among them last year’s marriage of Carolina Cisneros. The duo have made use of everything from the huge meteorological balloons that armies used to forecast the weather to cut crystals from old chandeliers built into giant architectural columns.
“The idea,” Adler says, “is to unlearn your ideas of what is beautiful.”