In this season of shorter days and longer nights we probably need the sight of flowers more than ever. Perfect timing for Ben Tracy's "Postcard From Tokyo":
The mornings begin shrouded in fog and surrounded by color. Yellow, red, pink … a forest of flowers begins to grow.
The Tokyo floral studio of Makoto Azuma looks more like a laboratory, and his team more like a Japanese rock band. Azuma barely speaks as he works. His focus is unbroken, as his fingers perfect each petal until his creation is complete.
Tracy asked, "When you look at a flower, what do you see?"
"I see flowers as symbolizing life," he replied. "When a flower is cut and removed from the soil, it begins a new life."
So nearly nothing is left on the cutting room floor. Trash becomes treasure locked inside a bottle.
"I can put flowers inside a vase but they would look nothing like what you do," Tracy said. "Where does the inspiration come from?"
"The flowers themselves are my inspiration" Azuma said. "It tells me how to make it look more beautiful."
And he's always looking for interesting locations to plant his work -- captured with stunning photography.
Azuma's talents have also been on display at fashion houses such as Fendi and Hermes, and even lined the runway at fashion shows.
To watch Makoto Azuma's "Burning Flowers" installation click on the video player below.
And while you've probably already realized that he's not your average florist, Makoto Azuma destroys any preconceived notions of what that word even means.
He and his team have created elaborate videos of their larger-than-life botanical adventures.
They've planted a bonsai tree in the middle of a blizzard, and frozen flowers inside giant blocks of ice.
They've sailed a floral armada out onto the open ocean, and sunk a giant arrangement down to the bottom of the sea.
And then there was the time a bouquet boldly went where no bouquet has gone before -- into space.
Tracy asked, "Does that bring attention and therefore you sell more flowers? Or is there something you are trying to communicate?"
"I like to push the envelope" Azuma said. "An arrangement of flowers on a table is nice, but I want to find new ways flowers can move people."
It's also part of his near-obsession with the science behind how flowers live, and how they die.
Inside a room at his studio he conducts detailed experiments, documenting how much water different types of flowers need under various conditions, and how long they survive. He says that informs how he makes the most of a flower's 10-day lifespan.
"These three [flowers] won't change much" he said, "but these will, so this bouquet will tell a story."
"What you're doing by the very nature of it is temporary," Tracy said. "These will die. Do you struggle with that?"
"No," Azuma replied. "The flowers will continue to live on brilliantly in people's hearts… long after the real flowers have faded."
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