A Workspace for Beauty and Sustainability
Stepping onto the broad tiled floors of the new Atelier de LaFleur, visitors are greeted with the scent of flower arrangements displayed across a wall of thin steel shelves, and in the center of the room a 16 foot work table awaits new creations.
“The work table is the essence of the Atelier,” explained Darci Hazelbaker of HA | RU, the design firm that created this space in the historic train depot on 410 N. Toole to house a combined downtown flower market and workshop for LaFleur Plantscapes. “In the morning Colleen may use it to assemble arrangements for walk-in patrons, in the afternoon may use it as a work space for creating all the center pieces for a wedding, in the evening she may host a class for eight to ten people on orchid care, and on the weekend she may throw a farm-to-table dinner party for 15 or more close friends.” The worktable is symbolic of the visions and collaboration of Hazelbaker, Dale Rush, Jason Gallo and Colleen LaFleur, owner of the Atelier. The piece started with reclaimed oak beams found at a Tucson salvage yard, which were then milled locally at Picture Rocks Mesquite and built by the designers into an indispensable centerpiece. “We’re told these beams are close to 100 years old and I believe it,” Hazelbaker added. “It’s the densest wood we’ve ever worked with.”
“We see the ideas of sustainable design as the way architecture should be executed as standard protocol,” she wrote. “We regularly source local materials and craftsman as much as possible, reuse and reclaim materials when appropriate, use products made from recycled content or products that are easily recyclable, as well as employ passive energy strategies, and new green technology when the design and budget allow.” This philosophy is visible everywhere in the Atelier, from the slim steel shelves that can be recycled to the custom steel office desk and vintage rug and lamp purchased locally.
It’s a philosophy that rings true with LaFleur as well. Colleen’s plantscape designs revolve around native low-water flora and her floral arrangements always include a living plant “that can go from the event to the garden,” as she described it. “Our firm’s sustainable operations focus on re-purposing planters and containers, propagating and recycling native plants and succulents from prior event work, encouraging the use of live plants, supporting local artisans and farms and purchasing all of our landscape plants from local Tucson vendors.”
“The concept of an atelier grew out of the idea that if we offered classes and workshops on garden related topics we would provide the downtown urban gardener with a place to network and meet others who shared similar green interests,” LaFleur explained. A traditional atelier is an artist’s studio, where a master and assistants work together, and the idea has been decanted in the downtown Tucson space to a flower shop where customers can work in petals at the bar and learn from the professionals. Classes every week give apprentices an opportunity to learn something more about sustainable growing in the southwest, balcony gardening, or working with design elements of beautiful blooms. December brings workshops on holiday succulent arrangements and “homemade living gifts” that can be planted and enjoyed for years to come.
But perhaps the most important feature of the new flower shop is its beauty. “We wanted the space to have the feel of an old European artisan workshop but also showcase the natural beauty of the living plants and floral arrangements much like an art gallery,” LaFleur noted, and along one wall the squared-off shelves create dark, minimalist frames around splashes of color from the flowers. The two designs complement each other. Of HA | RU, LaFleur wrote, “They shared my passion for sustainability and delivered a space that uses hand crafted, beautiful natural materials.” But in this gallery, Hazelbaker added, “The art is Colleen’s living compositions.”
Atelier de LaFleur is offering special December classes on Thursday evenings, 6-7pm: 12/6 Holiday Succulent Arrangement, $30 (includes an arrangement to take home) and 12/13 Forcing Bulbs & Homemade Living Gifts for the Holidays, $15.
Atelier de LaFleur, 410 N. Toole Ave., 548-1338. Visit LaFleurPlantscapes.com for more information.