Floral Designer

Raúl Àvila

Saul Taylor / April 30, 2019

Cutting his teeth with the great Robert Isabell, the event producer’s event producer, Raul Avila has worked his way to the top of the industry and now creates meticulous floral spectacles and interior design for the world’s greatest events. When the Tony Awards need a wall of white roses or Anna Wintour requires a dramatic backdrop of lush greenery for one of her speeches, it’s Raúl Àvila who gets the call.

How did you end up where you are today?

My passion for success encouraged me to move from Columbia to New York City in 1984. Although I had experience in modelling, I realised I had a bigger love for set design after attending a few NYFW presentations. From there, I was able to become an assistant to the legendary Robert Isabell in 1990 and begin my career in the events industry. During that time I learned all that I could and thrived in the position, eventually leading me to become the creative director of his company in 1998, where I worked for 14 years before deciding to venture out and start my own company.

Who has been the biggest influence on your work?

Robert Isabell. To many, he was described as the king of the event world, having coordinated many high profile events including Caroline Kennedy’s wedding, Christmas at the White House, the annual Met Costume Gala and so much more. He understood the passion I had, and continuously worked with me until I reached my full potential.

Pink Flamingos: In May, Raul Avila is in charge of the floral decorations at the Met Ball.

How do you kick-off the creative process?

We always begin with the client’s vision. We sit down to brainstorm, understand their expectations and brief the client on our abilities. We take their visual concept and use it to build mood boards and gain inspiration. From there we create mock-up designs and examples of what we can do. The preparation for events is all hands on deck. We work with every facet of the industry to produce the most visually pleasing concept.

How would you describe your creative style?

My style is very organic, natural and influenced by what I see everyday.

Who supplies your flowers?

My flowers are supplied from all over the world, although a majority come from Colombia because that is where I draw most of my inspiration. Flowers can make or break an event and while many people overthink flower arrangements, the most elegant and tasteful bouquets are only made up of one type of flower. As for my favourite, I love peonies.

What are your favorite kinds of events?

My favourite events are benefits and non-profits. I love anything that helps give back to the community or helps a cause.

Who make the best clients?

The ones willing to take a risk.

What makes New York so special for staging events?

New York is special within itself. It’s daring, bold, innovative and pushes you to be the same. Events spaces are endless, therefore the possibilities are endless and give you the opportunity to create the impossible.

What are your favorite locations in New York?

Museums, because you get to create art within art. Museums provide one-of-a-kind inspiration.

What’s your most memorable event recently?

It was Tory Burch’s wedding that took place in Paris and Antigua. It was a beautiful, private affair.

What’s your most memorable event of all time?

My first CIB event — “Poiret: King of Fashion.” I was really proud of my idea to outfit the Great Hall with an 18-foot-tall birdcage with live peacocks inside.

What makes a great event?

The people. Having the power to visually design something so beautiful and having a solid team to put it together makes every event great.