Creative florist Jack Lucky chats with WL on the inspiration and logistics of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the College of Art + Design’s 56th annual ball.
By Melissa Henderson
One of Washington’s most anticipated event of the year is right around the corner. Hosted by the Board of Trustees and the Women’s Committee of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, chaired by member Tammie Collins, as well as the College of Art + Design, the 56th annual Corcoran Ball will once again dazzle. But, how can you make the event top last year? It won’t be easy. But Jack Lucky Floral Designs ,with the help of the Women’s Committee, will transform 15 rooms of the Corcoran into an enchanted, mythical dream world. In short, Alice and Wonderland meets Washington’s Victorian style. Every year this A-List social event attracts more than a 1,000 guests with individual tickets beginning at $500 a seat. From the custom-made invitations to the intricately embroidered linens, the event serves to raise proceeds to fund the Gallery and College programs, including scholarships for students and technology advancement.
With the help of 150 volunteers logging over 700 hours, Certified Green Restaurant Caterer Occasions providing the cuisine, and Phil McCusker and Orchestra and Radio King Orchestra providing live music throughout the evening, it will truly be a night to remember. In conjunction with the ball,the Corcoran College of Art + Design seniors graduating with a Bachelors of Fine Arts will host and produce their own exhibition at the Gallery of Art entitled NEXT at the Corcoran: BFA Class of 2011. Students will showcase their year-long senior thesis projects in design, fine arts and photography, emphasizing contemporary art. In celebration of their achievements and success, admission to the Corcoran will be free. To get you revved up for the extravagant event, WL chatted with Jack Lucky about the meticulously crafted floor designs.
Washington Life: How do you choose a look and theme for the gala each year?
Jack Lucky: The approach is usually an updated classical look with a bit of modern whimsy added where appropriate. Each gallery somewhat dictates the direction for us. The collaborative effort of myself, Eric Michael,of Occasions Caterers, and the ladies on the decoration’s committee all give input into how the ball will ultimately look and over the years it has always been a wonderful experience.
WL: How are you adhering to the sustainability and designing environmental friendly motto?
JL:Where possible, we source locally grown products, I even grow some of the flowers on my farm and we compost a portion of our waste. In addition, the caterer is certified green.
WL: What is something different your team wanted to focus on that bugged you about last years ball?
JL:Every year there are unique challenges presented by the museum that makes us have to be more creative to work out a solution, but it is never a nuisance but a wonderful opportunity to showcase our work. It is only natural that some people will love some rooms and some people will not care for others. That is part of the fun, there is something for everyone’s taste!
WL: I understand you have 15+ rooms to decorate. Do you employ the creative ideas of a team of floral designers or do you have specific designs in your mind and work off of a concentrated idea?
JL:It is an evolution for me from the inception of the table linens in conjunction with the artwork displayed to come up with fresh ideas. We begin choosing linens in December in order to have them manufactured in time for the ball, so I have lots of creative time to think each design through. I sit down with my design team and we brainstorm on each room to come up with the best approach and flower types, but ultimately the decision is mine.
WL: Do you use local vendors for purchase of the flowers, vases, baskets and other decorative props? Do you order from all over?
JL: In today’s world, the decorative elements come from all over the place. We go to markets in New York and Atlanta to source most of our decorative elements. As for flowers, some might come from my gardens and others from a little orchid farm in Thailand. We also directly import flowers from Holland and South America.
WL: How far in advance do you begin actual floral set-up and how do you keep all of these flowers looking fresh for so long?
JL: In the floral world timing is everything and getting the absolute freshest product is crucial in making sure you have the best look. We usually start designing on Wednesday but a finishing touch such as a very delicate sweet pea might not get added till one hour before guests arrive.
WL: What type of budget were you forwarded for the floral design and decoration per room and over-all this year?
JL: Let’s just say it is a “labor of love” for the most part. While the budget is fair, everyone that participates in this gala does it out of a total dedication to their profession. From the catering, lighting, décor, and flowers, everyone goes above and beyond to keep this gala the premiere visual event in D.C.
WL: I noticed large table arrangements of fresh, pastel colored, many, very tall and lovely flowers per table from the 2010 Corcoran Ball, so what happens to all of these flowers after the Ball? Are they donated to Hospice Centers, or Senior Living Apartments, or something of that nature?
JL: We donate what we can to Hospice Centers. It depends on the design and construction of the flowers and a lot of flowers are totally at their peak for the gala. The other challenge is we take 3 days to set things up and have about 6 hours to get the museum back in order to open up on Saturday morning.
The 56th annual ball takes place on Friday April 29th at 7pm at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. For more information on tickets, contact the Corcoran Ball Office (301) 951-3780 or firstname.lastname@example.org