A MetaFlora piece is a departure from floristry: neither the word ‘flower’ nor ‘arrangement’ seems quite right. Marisa Competello's graphically arranged materials – leaves reshaped with scissors, natural colours sprayed over in unearthly tints – are camera candy, which is only natural for someone who spent almost a decade in fashion styling.
The company's name is apt: when Competello first decided in 2014 to move away from creating other people's stories to focus on her own, ‘meta’ was being appropriated into self-referential New York parlance. There is always a parallel conversation going on in her compositions, and she has said that she most enjoys the moment when flowers stop resembling flowers.
Arguably, MetaFlora is more firmly rooted in popular culture than the world of horticulture. Collaborations with luxury brands have been rather meta too, since MetaFlora is a luxury brand. Shapes take flight when reacting to silver and crystal vases by Danish designer Georg Jensen.
Photographs are useful to Competello in crystallizing ideas. They might reference the subversiveness of Guy Bourdin's fashion photography, or the cool mastery of a still life by Irving Penn. More inspiring and propelling of her creativity than these, though, is Competello’s life in dance. As a dancer and teacher of dance, her sense of physicality is manifested in the contrasts of movement and stillness within her compositions.