By Design

The Maple Leaf Cup 2018

At the start of the Maple Leaf Cup, March 23, host Heather de Kok, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, announced to the 19 contestants some very big news. The winner of this year’s contest would have the opportunity to represent Canada in “the Olympics of floral design.”

In March 2019, FTD’s Interfloral-Fleurop World Cup Design Competition returns to North America for the first time in 34 years, occurring in conjunction with the Philadelphia Flower Show. Paul Jaras, AIFD, a floral designer in Kamloops, British Columbia, won the third annual Maple Leaf Cup and will represent Canada in this historic competition.

“Canada is going to be very well represented,” de Kok said. “Jaras is very architectural, very linear, and his grand opening piece was mind-blowing.”

Previously, Maple Leaf Cup winners had the opportunity to compete in the Florida State Florists’ Association’s Gateway to America’s Cup and the Society of American Florists’ Sylvia Cup, two other distinguished design competitions. De Kok said that she was “blown away” when FTD approached her with the offer to co-host the competition, with the intention of sponsoring the winner in next year’s World Cup.

De Kok has seen the number of interested competitors rise steadily over the Maple Leaf Cup’s history. This year, she actually had to turn designers away. Roughly one-third of this year’s contestants were newcomers.

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This year, de Kok hosted the event during the 50th anniversary of the Edmonton Home and Garden Show. The contestants occupied 1,500 square feet of the venue, and assembled their designs in front of 50,000 attendees. Many spectators told de Kok that they came to the show primarily to see the contestants’ designs at The Maple Leaf Cup.

“Consumers could see what the florists can actually do,” de Kok said. “The Cup really showcases floral design at its best.”

Spectators watched the floral experts design three different pieces throughout the competition: a Tropical Nouveau design perfect for a grand opening, a floral necklace, and a hand-tied bouquet. De Kok and floral industry sponsors distributed all of the necessary materials, including blooms and greens, to each competitor. Although all designers received identical supplies, each creation was unique and inventive.

“There wasn’t one table that was the same as another,” de Kok said. “Each designer used their different interpretations to make their arrangements intriguing. It shows that we are all so creative and so different.”

Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, EMC, and Neville MacKay, CAFA, PFCI, judged each arrangement blindly. They used a list of criteria, including elements and principles of design, creativity, and mechanics to score each arrangement.

Lea Romanowski, AIFD, CAFA, of Designing on the Edge in Calgary, Alberta was runner-up. Aniko Kovacs, AIFD, EMC, of Garlands Florist in Vancouver, British Columbia, won third place.

Mackenzie Nichols
Mackenzie Nichols is a freelance writer and experienced floral designer.
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