Extraordinary transcends beauty

Michael and Darroch Putnam are Putnam & Putnam, a New York City floral design company that uses natural flowers to create imaginative experiences for clients ranging from weddings to high fashion. With every project, Putnam & Putnam works to disrupt a staid industry with museum-worthy pieces that transcend the possibilities of floral design. Michael and Darroch share how they got their start, what makes their partnership so successful, and why sharing their expertise with others is an Extraordinary thing.

Putnam & Putnam began with us doing little projects for our friends, small dinners, weddings, things like that. Back then, our apartment was our studio — we even kept branches in the toilet! We finally set up a proper studio space when our business started to take off, specifically

No matter the job, the GOAL is always the same: Evoke an EMOTIONAL RESPONSE. We want people to FEEL something from our work.

via support from the fashion world.

Designers who were into our work gave us the freedom to play around and create stuff for them. People like Jason Wu, Adam Lippes, and Linda Fargo were early champions of ours. They helped put our work in front of the right people and turn what we do into a viable business.

Since then, we’ve continued to build the brand together. Michael handles the creative side, and Darroch covers the business logistics. What’s so Extraordinary about our partnership is that we’re always here for each other; we honestly couldn’t imagine doing this on our own. We’re partners in work and life: We’ve been together for almost ten years, and spent our entire twenties together, so we’ve been through it all. Whatever comes our way, we know we can count on one another.

One of the best things about co-owning a business is that we’re able to bounce ideas off of each other. At the end of the day, we sit down at home, have a glass of wine, and talk about all the things we want to do. And then we get up and do it. We live in such an incredible city; if you have the talent and drive, you can really do whatever you want. Everything we’ve wanted to happen we made happen, including all the ways we bring our creativity and imagination to each project.

There’s a romance to what we do; it’s almost of another era. In the beginning, our primary inspiration was old art. There’s such liveliness and energy to it. Everything has movement and is perfectly disheveled — we love that. We still create based on the philosophies of old art but also get inspired by contemporary art, what’s happening on the runways, the spaces we create for, and the projects we take on.

Sometimes we’re doing weddings. Sometimes it’s fashion. No matter the job, the goal is always the same: evoke an emotional response. It’s important that people feel something from our work.

It’s also important for us to share what we’ve learned along the way with others — honestly, we have no secrets. We recently got back from Korea where we taught workshops on floral installations and sets. The students there showed us so much love, and they left feeling inspired to create their own designs. It’s incredible to think that we can actually change people’s lives by sharing our skills.

Someone who is Extraordinary is always learning, whether it’s from themselves, the people around them, their environment, their last job, their mistakes. One thing we’ve had to learn is to say no to projects. For so long, we said yes to everything. But we can’t take on five projects at once and then give each 20 percent. We’ll never let it get to a point where our hands aren’t touching everything because that’s when the quality goes down. No matter what we do, we’ll always obsess over the details. The details are what set us apart.