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Is Studio Choo Poised for Bay Area Floral Domination?

There is a mutiny afoot in the world of Bay Area floral design. It’s brewing—or blooming, rather—inside an old garage space in South San Francisco, headquarters of newcomer Studio Choo. Though co-owners Jill Pilotte and Alethea Harampolis are quietly staging a rebellious uprising from their years of composing modern arrangements of super-pointy tulips wrapped in bare-grass loops for SF’s art gallery-cum-floral studio Rose & Radish, they consider their painstakingly meticulous training under R&R owner Cate Kellison among their most cherished work experiences.

“Cate’s style is sleek and modern. What she taught us about taking care of flowers and having an eye for detail is really invaluable,” says Harampolis, 36, a former estate gardener and R&R’s floral manager. “But our thing is designs that are a little more wild, more natural, more organic.”

“I was definitely ready to break out and go crazy,” says Pilotte, 29, who left her five-year post as R&R’s creative director in March to launch Studio Choo “All that training created the best foundation for what we’re doing now.” For the fall, the pair are expertly incorporating such bold elements as acorn-adorned twigs, otherworldly succulents and amaryllises—dirt-clung roots attached—into their unbridled creations. Their column on the Design*Sponge blog has piqued interest from brides and plant lovers in such locales as Australia, Brazil and Japan.

“Eventually, we’ll offer more wedding services like custom invitations and favors,” says Pilotte, who is planning her own garden-inspired nuptials next April at Pacifica’s Shelldance Orchid Gardens. For now, the pair is focused on composing the energetic arrangements that have quietly put them on the path toward botanical-world domination.

On Alethea: Harputs Own tweed swacket ($700) and maroon nylon three-hole dress ($310) at Harputs Market, 415-922-9644. Tights and boots, model’s own.
On Jill: Harputs Own charcoal cross dress ($350) at Harputs Market. Tights and boots, model’s own.