Fit and Flower-y
By Casey Arasa
For four years, Roberto Gonzalez was the go-to floral designer at Oprah’s Harpo Studios.
Since the show’s end, Roberto has launched his own company, Robert James Events, where he has designed flowers for the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Julia Roberts, Barbara Walters, Shania Twain, and President Obama.
“Designing the floral pieces for President Obama’s birthday was probably the highlight of my career,” he says. “On a personal level, working for Julia Roberts was special. As a gay kid growing up in Venezuela, Pretty Woman was secretly one of my favorite movies.”
His most recent project was creating all the floral for the movie Joyful Noise with Dolly Parton and Queen Latifa.
What are Roberto’s keys to success? Whether designing floral arrangements for a movie or an event, Roberto starts with the initial client consultation, his favorite part of the process. He has his clients close their eyes and dream up their wildest ideas for the party. He then uses his creative tricks to deliver a spectacle on budget. “You know how some women can make costume jewelry seem as if they are wearing the Hope Diamond? That’s what I do. I turn simple flower designs into masterpieces!”
Speaking of masterpieces, Roberto has turned himself into one. Under his floral smock, Roberto is an incredibly muscular fitness model. “I think I am giving new definition to the idea of flower power,” he laughs.
What draws you to flowers?
Flowers are perfect. Flowers create an emotional experience that people don’t forget. They’re magic; they are art. They don’t talk back. What’s not to love?
If you could compare yourself to any flower, which would you choose?
A rose because roses are very dangerous if you don’t know how to handle them.
Is there a particular flower that you love to incorporate into your designs?
I use tons of roses and hydrangeas. I love the classic look and nostalgia of a rose and the fullness and lushness of a hydrangea.
Are clients surprised when they first meet you?
Perhaps, but it’s 2017. Time to break stereotypes. My goal is to make everything around me beautiful. I have a passion for aesthetics and I carry that belief throughout my life.
In your home, too?
My friends say my home is very cozy. I have oversized furniture and a large coffee table made out of rescued wood. Everything is very neutral and in natural tones.
Do you incorporate flowers into your home?
Oh, yes! Flowers add great energy to an environment. I always have large arrangements on the center coffee table with lots of flowers in jewel tones of super brights like yellows and oranges. I love the feel of peace and serenity they bring. I also love white lush bouquets of hydrangeas: like fifteen to twenty stems, overflowing the vase.
Do you take on events outside of Chicago?
I do events all over the country. I’ve done parties in New York, Miami and Atlanta. Geography doesn’t matter. The idea is to deliver an experience. I’d love to come out to Palm Springs!
What is the hot flower of the moment?
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