At the entrance of the L.E.A.F. Festival of Flowers in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, visitors passed by two archways made from a rainbow of fresh flowers. This Double Rainbow installation was created by East Olivia, a NYC-based, women-led design studio that specializes in one-of-a-kind floral works. In partnership with Aerie, East Olivia signed and built the installation to honor the city’s LGBTQ+ community and its rich history.
East Olivia’s founder, Kelsea Olivia, sat down with us recently for a discussion on Pride Month, the inspirations behind the Double Rainbow installation and a few of East Olivia’s future projects. Keep reading for the full Q&A!
Tell us a little about yourself and East Olivia, for those who don’t know.
Before founding EO, I spent a decade working in the music industry in LA and about 10 years ago I decided to leave the music industry wanting to explore an even more creative career. I ended up landing a visual role in retail for Anthropologie and BHLDN in NYC, where I began my visual work with flowers and the NYC Flower Market. Through that experience I fell in love with flowers. From there my passion for flowers and for bringing life and beauty into a space and EO was born.
East Olivia was originally very rooted in the events space and we were known for our large-scale installations. During the pandemic, we launched a direct-to-consumer online Forever Florals shop in order to share the beauty of flowers with more people during the lockdown and social distancing. As events return, we will continue to grow and expand both sides of East Olivia, online and in person.
What are the three words that come to mind when you think of Pride, and why?
Resilience. Representation. Joy.
Though I am not personally part of the LGBTQIA+ community, this incredible group of people are a big part of the fabric of NYC, America and the world. Pride represents so many people who have fought and suffered to achieve equality and to be able to celebrate, with great joy, their own identities and lives.
This community has fought so long and so hard, alongside their allies and Pride represents that hardship, that fight and that resilience that comes from pure commitment. Through change, equality and progress the joy only grows. Pride is one of only a few spheres in our world that effortlessly encapsulate all of those feelings of the human experience and I love that.
Can you describe the visual and conceptual inspirations for the Pride installation?
Inspiration around the Double Rainbow installation was a desire to give New York City (after being dormant for so long) a gift of color, life and love. In the true spirit of Pride, resilience, representation and joy, coming out of the pandemic hardships was an opportunity to reflect and celebrate. With the simultaneous timing of New York Flower Week and Pride, it was important to us to honor that story with a rainbow.
From there the idea of infusing downtown NYC with bold colors, optimism and vibrancy through an interactive, aspirational visual moment was born.
What were the nuts-and-bolts of this particular installation process? Was there anything that made it stand out from other installations you’ve done in the past?
Every creative concept is, in large part, dictated by the logistics of the space we are working in. We always start there with our planning. We knew due to this specific location at the Meatpacking District we would need a strong fabrication builder in order to create the arches for the Double Rainbow.
Ultimately, the most important part of any installation is safety. This was a public, interactive piece that hundreds of thousands of people were going to be walking in, around and under so making it safe, secure and sound was essential. From there, we move right into selecting our florals (fresh and preserved) that we will design with on top of the safe foundation we created.
We were thrilled with the level of dimension we achieved and feel like that made it unique and dynamic. Additionally, we were blessed with the gift of someone being proposed to underneath our arches and that is just the ultimate compliment!
Besides this project, are there any other ways you’re commemorating Pride Month this year?
Of course there are! We are thrilled to launch our first ever Forever Florals Pride Collection named after the LGBTQIA+ activist, Brenda Howard. Brenda was a Bronx native, who was dubbed “The Mother of Pride” for her work organizing the first ever LGBT Pride March in 1970. She was a proud bisexual polyamorist who founded the New York Area Bisexual network, was a pioneer, advocate and a legend. This limited edition collection is full of life, love and color just like Brenda herself.
Additionally, we are donating 10% of our Pride Collection sales to the Trevor Project. They do impactful work toward the prevention of suicide in our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, asexual and questioning youth and we are proud to support them in any way.
Are there any upcoming East Olivia projects that you can tell us about?
Absolutely, yes! We have a lot of exciting projects coming up alongside our Summer Collection of Forever Florals. We are lucky to have partnered with Poppi and Beyond Meat on some exciting work in the Hamptons. Follow along @eastolivia to stay up to date with all our happenings!
Our Summer Collection is launching soon and it is sure to epitomize the exhilaration of a sunny day well spent at the beach with the added bonus of enjoying sunshine-y vibes all year round. Check it out at www.ShopEastOlivia.com
Finally, just for fun: what do you feel inspired by today?
Today, I am inspired by the beautiful clear blue sky and warm New York City weather — as well as the most insane purple-and-white variegated Japanese Lisianthus blooms I saw at the flower market this morning.
We are so thrilled that we could partner with East Olivia on their tribute to the LGBTQ+ community. How are you using your creativity to celebrate Pride this month? Let us know in the comments!