With Centerpiece, Maurice Harris enters full bloom

A man smiling in front of a purple background while holding flowers.

The Los Angeles member’s new floral masterclass Quibi show is a joyful celebration of Black artists

By Shannon Mahanty   Images by Taylor Rainbolt   Friday 19 June, 2020   Long read  

Centerpiece is a show like no other. The brainchild of Maurice Harris, founder of LA-based floral design studio Bloom & Plume it’s a visually stunning examination of the creative minds of today’s most exciting Black artists.

Combining Harris’ passion for floristry and the art of conversation, his guests (which include actor Tessa Thompson, musician Moses Sumney and director Melina Matsoukas) are interviewed by Harris about their creative process. He then interprets their talk as an original floral composition. Once the centerpiece is revealed – purple odyssey for Rashida Jones, a subversive explosion of colour for fashion designer Kerby Jean-Raymond – Harris and his guest explore the creation, before ending each episode with a celebratory dance.

With cameos from his sister, and his mother soundtracking the show by organ, Centerpiece is a true family affair. Last year, he kept things in the Harris clan again, launching an LA cafe, Bloom & Plume Coffee, with his younger brother Moses. Although the doors have been forcibly closed by COVID-19, Harris is finding ways to innovate and adapt, and already his takeaway service is flourishing. 

As Centerpiece hits the app Quibi, Harris speaks to Soho House about creativity, protest and the pure power of flowers. 
Neon lighting shaped like a hand holding a flower.
In the midst of Black Lives Matter protests and a global pandemic, how are you and your business doing? 
‘We’re hanging in there and getting it done. We’ve been trying to get people to engage and come to the coffee shop. It’s been really challenging, but with the protesting, people are pledging to support Black businesses. The outpouring has been absolutely insane – we can’t even keep up with it. I’m hoping this is the new normal and not just a trend, but we shall see.’ 

Online spaces feel particularly heightened right now, but why did you want to make a physical space with Bloom & Plume Coffee?
‘Bloom & Plume is an extremely luxurious business; I didn’t realise how luxurious it was when I started it. But insurances, pay roll, taxes and rent have to all go into the cost of my flower arrangements, so the price point for it to make sense is really high. I wanted to figure out a way to bring a community together and have more engagement in the brand, because I think people really like it. But the flower shop is not financially set up for people to be able to do that. 

Coffee shops are historically community-oriented spaces, and so I thought it was a beautiful idea to create a space where people can come together. I wanted to bring our design magic to a public space so you can experience it, but it doesn’t cost the same amount as our installations. I think it’s the dose of joy, love and sense of being seen that a lot of people have been craving. It’s a space for everyone to enjoy that, specifically people of colour. I think, in general, most spaces are from a White vantage point where White is centred. And this was considering everyone, but specifically Black people and people of colour.’ 
A hand holding two red flowers.