Flowers, Photography and Magical Realism by Doan Ly

Floral arrangements come to life and inspire design at a.p. bio’s studio in New York City. Founded by Doan Ly, a.p. bio combines the entire art of floral design and visual storytelling under one creative atelier. Ly tells me, “It was floral design that gave me a camera, the tool, to tell that story.”

Read the interview below for more about how a floral designer became a cult Instagram follow known for her dream-like photography and surrealist floral arrangements.

Did your passion for floral design lead to your overall passion for a design and photography studio?

I had to teach myself photography to document my work and create a portfolio when I started my own floral design business. In doing so, I discovered a visual form of storytelling that’s been a lot of fun.

Your art direction and photography are just as stunning as the floral arrangements. Where does your inspiration come from?

Inspiration comes from whatever makes my heart skip a beat —a ray of afternoon light, apricots for sale, music, vintage films, paintings and more. There’s also the inspiration right in front of you trying to reveal itself, how do we grab it?

There is a sense of beauty and surrealism in your work.

I am drawn to the non-literal when I make images, so maybe that reads as surrealism? Or magical realism? I’m interested in what could be. And of course, really pretty things, even when commonplace.

And sometimes 80s glam?

I like shiny, reflective things and the 80s had a ton. I’ll take glam from any time period; every decade comes with its own dose.

What’s next?

I’d love to make videos next. Right now, I’m creating the stills. It would be amazing one day for it all to spring to life, like Esther Williams’ classic Hollywood aquatic musicals.

Photo credit: Doan Ly

Written by Heather Picquot