New Kid on the Block: Mel Furukawa

Mel Furukawa bouquetThere’s something a little odd about calling Mel Furukawa‘s flower shop a “New kid on the block,” given that he has lived and worked on that particular block of Duane since 1975. But the shop is new, inside a 140-square-foot nook accessed via Capital Audio Electronics. “I wasn’t looking for a store,” he says. “But one day I noticed that the room wasn’t being used, so I asked about renting it.” Because Capital closes on weekends, the shop is only open on weekdays—but that works out, since he tends to be seeing to events on weekends anyway.

Furukawa had been an illustrator whose work appeared on the New York Times op-ed page, and he spent year in Tokyo working with fashion designer Hanae Mori, before he turned to flowers, inspired in big part by the counterintuitive centerpieces—involving piles of dirt—at a fancy dinner party in France. While he was studying ikebana, the Japanese art of flower design, a friend asked him to do the flowers at Paradis, a restaurant in the American Thread Building.

“One day, someone from River Café came in, and they asked if I’d do their flowers. I didn’t know what to do, so I asked my ikebana teacher, who said, ‘Say yes. I’ll be your partner.’ And we did that for five years.” The roster of clients only gets more impressive: Aureole; the Pierre; Tavern on the Green (he tells a great story from those days); the Palm House, the event space at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden; Daniel Boulud’s catering outfit, Feast & Fêtes…. And there are plenty of private clients, of course.

At the store, you can buy plants and herbs, order centerpieces or hand-tied bouquets (even at the last moment), and talk to Furukawa about event-related needs. He says he loves having a store because he gets to interact with people more and display his work in the deep window: “It’s satisfying to have an audience.” When you pass by and/or stop in, be sure to check out his wonderful mobiles; the crossbars balance on the tips of thorns taken from honey locust trees.

Mel Furukawa is at 120 Duane (between Church and Broadway), 212-349-3225, melfurukawa.com.

Mel Furukawa facadeMel Furukawa shopMel Furukawa potsMel Furukawa flowers in caseMel Furukawa sana sanaMel Furukawa mobileRecent New Kid on the Block/First Impressions articles:
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10 Comments

  1. What a gorgeous arrangement and I LOVE what Mel Furukawa has done with that space. I can’t wait to stop by!

  2. My Spanish is near nil, but the sign is kind of wonderful.

  3. It was a pleasure to meet you today on the street! I wish you success in your new-found space.

  4. Good luck Mel! Nice to have another Mom and Pop shop on the block!

  5. What a nice understated treasure, what makes NYC (and more specifically TriBeCa) special–talented artisans sharing their passion and craft with the world. Truly beee-autiful!

  6. @ David,my Spanish is less than nil, what is the translation of the sign?

  7. @Sheila: I asked Mel about that when Interviewed him. Here’s what he said…

    The plant is an herb called ‘rue,’ or in Spanish ‘ruda,’ believed to have healing powers, and used to ward off or remove evil spells. The little saying on the card is usually recited to a child in distress from a minor injury. Translated, it means:

    Heal, heal.
    Ass of the frog.
    If you don’t heal today, heal tomorrow.

  8. Thanks Erik, that is kind of wonderful…

  9. Mel created a beautiful table boutique for me last week. Truly gorgeous and his shop is delightful.

  10. I stopped by the store today. What a wonderful place! Lots of unusual plants as well as orchids (my favorite). And a custom orchid arrangement just being wrapped for delivery — absolutely luscious! Mel, you are a genius!