Austin | February 23, 2023
Meet Leah Pipes Meltzer: Serracina Founder & Designer
Meet Leah Pipes Meltzer, Austin-based artist and floral designer behind Serracina (…and Austin Proper’s very own florist, responsible for all the beautiful botanical arrangements throughout Austin Proper). We caught up with Leah to discuss her journey to floral design; how the variety of spaces inside Austin Proper serve as a muse for her creations; and how she collaborates with designer Kelly Wearstler to craft distinct arrangements with both point of view and a sense of place.
- Tell us a bit about yourself and what sparked your journey into floral design and creating Serracinna.
I definitely wasn’t always a florist, but I have worked in and around creative practices since I was 18. I studied photography, sculpture, and performance art when I was in college at Parsons School of Design in New York City. I’ve worked as an artist assistant and then in film for several years, and was in-house with a few small fashion brands before branching off as a freelance prop stylist. Florals always made their way into my commercial work. One day a friend connected me with Kelly Wearstler and that was it! Serracinna was created in tandem with my collaborations with Kelly Wearstler and the Austin Proper Hotel.
- How has Austin influenced your design style and creative process?
Austin is the biggest inspiration for what we do with Serracinna. The farmers here and their flowers are the backbone of how we develop our creative process. Farming is like theater, an ultimate art form. The farmers pour themselves into their work. They really live their values and aesthetics. After moving to Austin, and meeting my business (and life) partner Josh, I developed a deep passion for working with local flowers. The varieties that grow here in Austin are incredible — did you know we have a native lisianthus? With Serracinna we maintain a deep awareness of the seasons because we want our work to mimic what’s happening in nature, to bring the outdoors inside in an artful and elegant way, and to constantly find new ways to experience the simplest flowers.
- Can you share with us your experience of collaborating with Kelly Wearstler? In what ways do you your visions align?
Kelly is an absolute dream. She is one of the loveliest people I’ve ever worked with in my life. Kelly showcases people who are making art. When we are doing a shoot together and designing a new floral scheme for the hotel, Kelly prompts you to tap into this other dimension. She wants it to be exclusively focused on creating a vision of art and aesthetics, which carries over to every corner of the hotel.
- How does Austin Proper’s interior design influence your creations for the space? What factors come into play when you are designing?
All of the arrangements at Proper are designed specifically to fit the space. We want to highlight the architecture, certain art pieces, certain tables, or chairs. I love it when colors become mimicked — Kelly really likes things in the space to echo each other. It’s something I think about a lot when working in the hotel, like how the florals sometimes match the design on the rug or the fabric color of a chair.
- Tell us about your floral designs at Austin Proper and what kind of displays to expect while visiting the property.
We outfit every space differently. Goldies has a very feminine, lush garden party feeling to the florals. We do pinks and lavender, pale yellows, and greens. The lobby is very graphic and bold, and we will favor warmer colors and go sculptural with shapes. I love picking artworks to play off of and draw your eye in. At the Peacock we have colorful blue and yellow vases where we do sculptural dried arrangements. As much as possible we are highlighting what is being grown here in Austin and surrounding guests with flowers from Texas.
- We are thrilled to carry on our partnership with Serracinna. What are you most excited about for the future of floral design and creation?
I am truly excited about the movement of floral design existing outside of the wedding world. It is just now starting to become recognized as a creative practice. It is incredible that Kelly Wearstler and Austin Proper have been ahead of the curve in recognizing floral as equal to paintings, or akin to other interior design elements. Austin Proper is such an immersive experience—there’s no better place to showcase floral arrangements!