Words by Sommer Brugal Photos by Eric Morales
Austin native Antonio Bond finds beauty in combining found objects and Earth’s natural décor.
It’s not too often you’ll find a floral arrangement laced with bones, wasp hives, or animal skulls. When you do, you might question its beauty; you might even think it strange. But for Antonio, founder of and florist at Transplants Floral, combining weird, uncommon objects with something delicate (like flowers) seems obvious. Doing so, he says, allows him to tell a story.
“I’ve always liked dark things,” says Antonio. “There’s something to the dark floral I like. It’s more emotional, and a little more moody.”
Antonio’s edginess was apparent from the start, when he began creating floral arrangements for friends’ weddings. At first, working with limited budgets, Antonio simply turned to natural elements like coral to fill gaps in his arrangements. As he became more confident, he began to push boundaries by including manmade objects in arrangements. He wanted to inspire a certain reaction in people.
“I don’t want to do safe art. I don’t want to do art that everyone likes,” Antonio admits bluntly. “I want people to pick sides. Because if you’re not pushing somebody’s buttons, what are you doing?”
To evoke that emotion, Antonio strays away from modern day props, like glass vases. Instead, he opts for an antique welding face shield or an animal’s skull to hold his flowers. Sometimes, he doesn’t use flowers at all but arranges random trinkets he’s collected over time.
Bond’s design process differs from most other florists. He says he never begins assembling flowers with a preconceived plan in mind. Instead, he lets the flowers speak to him.
“I like the spontaneity of each arrangement being different, but still looking like they belong,” smiles Antonio. “That’s why you’ll never see the same arrangement twice. Each one of [my designs] is different from the others.”
From his dark floral combinations to the eclectic collection of knickknacks he pairs with them, Antonio is anything but your typical florist. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t consider himself one. Instead, he sees himself as an artist and his arrangements as sculptures.
Unlike other artists, a florist’s creation has a predetermined lifespan. While it’s the one aspect about his medium Bond visibly dislikes, he’s working on projects that can make his work eternal.
He began experimenting with photography and recently released a limited edition series of prints. He also just wrapped up a coffee table book, which features images of Bond’s arrangements and photos from inside his studio. The book is scheduled for release this November.