Yukiko's Floral Design Studio in Marin
The Art of Ikebana
Marin IJ Home & Garden Feature Article
The art of ikebana sees the space between flowers
Feature article by P. J. Bremier in the Marin Independent Journal
Southerners have, in their past,
lagniappe -- a little token present
given to shoppers with their
purchase. Why do people like it
so much and why don't
businesses engage in the practice
I think we must enjoy the
unexpected surprise and the
personal thoughtfulness that
accompanies lagniappe. It's not
an extravagant expenditure, but
rather something simple and
more of a symbol of appreciation
Even though she's from an
island in Southern Japan, and
not the Southern United States,
floral designer Yukiko Neibert
has found a creative way to meld
today's technology with
Old-World thoughtfulness in
her version of lagniappe.
With every arrangement that she
designs for a client, she offers an
almost instantly e-mailed digital
photograph of it as a
complimentary token of
appreciation. That way, the
client gets to see -- and enjoy --
his gift. In a sense, Neibert's gift
completes the circle of giving to
include all three parties involved.
Her designs are ikebana or
ikebana-inspired and have
evolved from her childhood,
when she joined the nurses of
her grandfather's hospital who
would arrange flowers from his
"When I was growing up in
Japan) well-to-do families
prepared their daughters for
society by educating them in
flower arranging or tea
ceremony, or both, to the point
of formally certified competence,"
she says, "sort of a "black belt' in
high culture. In my case, I
avoided the tea ceremony and
pursued ikebana, which was a
She settled in Marin in 1970 with
her husband, Peter, and
practiced ikebana mainly as gifts
for her friends. A business in
floral design, based out of her
Kentfield studio, ensued 10 years
ago when people began asking
her how much she'd charge to
do an arrangement for them.
Her style, she says, is the reverse of
where flowers are added first.
"I put branches, berries, foliage and
seedpods in first and Her style, she
says, is the reverse of use the
spaces between them as the
Western style of arranging part of
the design and then add flowers
Yukiko has developed a clientele
that has attracted business from
across the United States.
She has created large-scale
arrangements -- 5 to 6 feet tall and
just as wide -- every week for
Smith Ranch Homes retirement
community in San Rafael.
At first, she admits, the residents
were ambivalent about her
designs. "They would ask, 'Why
are there so many branches? I
don't like them,"* she says with
an understanding chuckle.
"They weren't used to the style.
Now if I use too many flowers and
not enough branches, they ask
'What is this?' and so to please
every audience I promise to bring
an arrangement with more
branches the next week."
This summer, at the suggestion of
friends and students, she started a
new branch of her business
marketing art prints of her
arrangements. She launched it
with an exhibition at Smith Ranch
The photographs, produced on
acid-free, museum-grade paper, can
be ordered unframed in any size up
to 13 x 19 .
Meditation: Ikebana in two holders, "Heaven
connects to people on earth." The arrangement
includes magnolia, protea and lily grass.
"The Japanese arrangement can be
used in a meditation room; a
contemporary bouquet in a little
girl's room or someone from the
amaranth," she says.
For information, call 456-6763 or
P.J.Bremier writes on home, garden,
design and entertaining topics in the
Marin IJ .