Yukiko creates only unique floral designs.
Yukiko Neibert 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
more often?
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
garden.
"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
natural fit."
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. "My
just a flower arrangement," she
says. "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
for color."
classes at the College of Marin and
for various organizations; given
group and private lessons at her
studio; served as an invited
participant in San Francisco's
Bouquets to Arts for five years;
and has developed a clientele that,
because of her Web site, has
attracted business from across the
United States.
For the past six years, 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
Homes.
The photographs, produced on
acid-free, museum-grade paper, can
be ordered unframed in any size up
to 13 x 19 and cost between $85
and $115. Up to 25 images are on
display on her site.
key to ikebana is designing the space between flowers
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
visit www.neibert.com

P.J.Bremier writes on home, garden,
design and entertaining topics in the
Marin IJ every Saturday.  She may be
contacted at P.O.Box 412, Kentfield
94914 or pj@mindspring.com  
.

Yukiko Neibert Floral Design Studio in Marin, 46 Berens Drive, Kentfield, CA 94904 Tel: (415) 456-6763
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