The creative behind RZY Florals says that the impermanence inherent in her work is what makes it so unique: ‘When people connect with the work I make, we are linked by a very specific and short window of time, and that just feels so special to me.’
Rosalie Villanueva missed working with her hands. In 2016, she had a gig at a media production company, but she yearned to return to making art. The medium that gave her the most joy? Blooms. So, she got a job at a flower shop and started taking workshops in floral design — a lot of workshops. After a few years working weddings for event design studios and freelancing for local floral designers, she opened her own studio, RZY. Now RZY is sought after for its bold, modern arrangements, and Villanueva creates installations for clients like HGTV star designer Tiffany Pratt and helps to raise funds for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and the Breast Cancer Society.
Villanueva is influenced by ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, and draws a lot of inspiration from architecture and sculpture. “I like to think of my style as teetering somewhere between fantasy and fever dream,” she says. “My goal is to find the sweet spot between playful and menacing, something that invites a bit of a closer look. I always want there to be an element of surprise and delight.”
Villanueva wants to help other budding artists provide that delight and supports a number of social programs that provide accessible arts education. Last year, she sold bouquets as part of a flower-therapy delivery service, donating the proceeds to Nia Centre for the Arts and VIBE Arts for Children and Youth, and she even volunteered while she was on vacation in New York, working with Bloom Again Brooklyn.
The non-profit repurposes unsold inventory from local partners and donated flowers from event studios into floral arrangements that are handed out to local nursing home residents, homebound seniors and families in shelters. “What I love most about my job is knowing that the work is impermanent. When people connect with the work I make, we are linked by a very specific and short window of time, and that just feels so special to me,” she says. “Flowers are so inviting to our senses. We lean in closer to get a whiff, we want to inspect them and touch them. There could be so many memories that are activated when we indulge those senses. My career is so humbling, because who wouldn’t want to be a conduit for that energy? It’s amazing.”
She would like to do more editorial work and transition to floral design and set styling for film and television, but, for now, she’s happy to use her skills to make Torontonians’ pandemic existence a little brighter, doing retail orders for Valentine’s and Mother’s Day and offering more flower-therapy bouquets for delivery. “I’ve found that, now more than ever, people desperately want to stay connected with loved ones, so they’re sending mail or flowers,” she says. “And, luckily for me, I help make that happen.”