He designed all the floral arrangements for Caesar’s Palace. He did Celine Dion’s concerts and homes, too. And back in Red Dirt Country, George Catechis was teaching little old me how to artfully arrange blooms for my kitchen table.
Inside a warehouse at 82nd and Western lies a modern-day secret garden, where 20-foot flower chandeliers, wholly unique floral compositions, and lots of learning come to life. Catechis and his team at Fleuriste create for major events and elegant restaurants, but few realize they also share the most basic—and essential—techniques in a large teaching space as well. Classes at Fleuriste accommodate complete beginners like me, and inspire with a range of topics that includes flower crowns and succulent bars. Hanging driftwood, buckets of blooms, wine and hearty snacks keep the creative fires burning.
That’s where Catechis seems most at home. With clients such as Vegas casinos and international pop stars, the floral designer could allow extravagant ideas to flourish. Catechis learned how to create utterly unique designs; he learned that floral design “...is not just a centerpiece, it’s how to make a room into an amazing feeling.” George smiled as he reminisced about some of his creations. If Celine wanted a wall of water, or exotic fish, he found them. If you could dream it, he could do it.
After working for Caesar’s Palace, Catechis became head of the floral department at MGM Resorts. In 2009, he designed the New Year’s Eve set for the ethereal Sarah Brightman. He used wood imported from Brazil to create a life-like forest, and carved trees to become chairs. George described the moment that it all came together. His palms were sweaty and his mind was running a million miles an hour. A friend forced him to pause and relish the moment as guests walked in. From the stage, George could see the wonder and amazement over the atmosphere he created.
George describes his job as more than floral design, but the chance to “turn a room into an amazing feeling.” He did that in the smallest sense, as well. I walked into my Fleuriste class with little concept of what arranging flowers truly meant, or what the evening would entail. I left feeling a lot more confident about creating and preserving my own creations during the season that blooms.
Fleuriste hosts its next arranging classes June 25th and July 16th.For more info, see thefleuriste.com/classes. 1020 NW 82nd St.;(405) 843-8700.