Mayesh Design Star: Pilar Zuniga

Mayesh Design Star: Pilar Zuniga

Does anyone want to tell us how we're halfway through the year?! We can't believe we're announcing our THIRD featured Design Star of the year,  so without further ado, we give you...




Pilar Zuniga is a California Native and Cal grad, who developed a strong urge to grow, design and just be around flowers. Her first career was in public health and education, but all along was a full-fledged art maker, designer, and creator. She bridged her two worlds in 2008 when she started Gorgeous and Green, with the sole purpose of offering a more sustainable approach to weddings and events, gifts, and flower deliveries.

She blogged in the early years about avoiding floral foam and sourcing locally, using alternative support for designs, and showcasing the beauty you can create with more sustainable business methods and floral practices. She eventually opened two sustainable boutiques in Berkeley that offered her flower designs but also many local and sustainable products, jewelry, plants, terrariums, and art. She has tailored her business to an online shopping platform and still offers some local gift deliveries as well as designs for small and large events. She has been highlighted by Energy Upgrade California, Shopify, Design Sponge, The SlowFlowers Journal, Wedding Sparrow, Square, The Florist's Review as a Sustainable Florist and just named a Top 50 Wedding Florist of 2023 in North America.

Pilar is an energetic, warm and educational public speaker and has spoken at numerous garden groups and floristry groups, including the Slow Flowers Summit, started by Debra Prinzing. She is currently an ambassador of the Sustainable Floristry Project (ambassador #2) and has always been a CA Green Certified business. 

To expand on that, we have a few questions for Pilar below!




What is your philosophy towards sustainability within our industry?

My philosophy has always been about making the most sustainable business and florist decision I can at the time it is being made. I have never used floral foam, I have never used spray paints or glues etc. But there were times I used floral food before I got a chance to really look at the ingredients and I leaned heavily on floral tape. Now I try to avoid tape or use it very sparingly since it's a plastic product and ditched the flower food long ago.

I always go back to the idea of staying as simple as possible. Offering hand-tied bouquets for those who have vases, or don't want to waste a vase since it carries a heavy carbon footprint. My business has evolved and continues to evolve, and I find that as it does it gets simpler and simpler. The great thing about making things simpler and less complicated, it eventually offers less stress. If I can't offer a specific design because of seasonal availability or avoidance of glues or floral foam, I offer something else that is beautiful and that I feel comfortable and practiced making.

The issue has always been about getting comfortable with what sustainability in floral design and business looks like. The answer is practice. With practice comes comfort, ease, and eventual behavior change. Floral Design Behavior Change takes 1. the desire to change 2. the education and tools and methods needed to make the change 3. practice 4. and more practice until it's comfortable and the method you turn to first. Once I started thinking about sustainability in every direction and decision, it became my practice. It isn't perfect, but I'm consistent and I get better at it every day.


Where do you hope to see the industry in the next 5 years?

We have made a lot of headway in the last 5 years! When I first started Gorgeous and Green in 2008, people were still using plastic floral foam like crazy. 
Then there was a movement to chicken wire and curly willow (which have been used for decades but just recently became the designer's choice), and now we have small companies making things like Oshun pouches, bio glues, beeswaxed twine, Agrawool and even biodegradable foams (yet to be released). It's been a long time coming, and I think it's exciting, because as practices change and awareness increases, more folks will be supporting alternatives and healthier design methods.
What I keep coming back to, and hope florists will continue to see as the foundation: the relevancy of staying simple and using simple products and materials. I always pull the compostable straw comparison. It's great to have compostable straws, but they do have a carbon footprint: materials grown and harvested, shipping, processing and more shipping, and maybe even more shipping. Paper may be a less processed option, but again, paper straws require processing and raw materials harvesting. What doesn't require those things? Drinking from the edge of your cup. So finding great containers that offer support, using foliage and natural local branches for structure, that is where sustainability in design is the most tangible. I'm all for less plastics and chemicals obviously, but we also have to look at resources and carbon footprints, and I hope this part of the conversation continues and grows stronger over the next 5 years.



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Stay tuned for Pilar's first video! 


Connect with Pilar:

Gorgeous and Green 



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