It could happen any day now. A really toasty, bone-warming day will finally dawn in downtown Schenectady, and when it does the doors at Anthology Studio will be propped open to catch the spring breezes.
“We’re itching for the first day that we can open our doors and let the air in here. Springtime is really exciting for us,” says Evan Euripidou, owner of downtown’s only florist shop, on State Street across from Proctors and the Hampton Inn.
Like the spring air, just about everything about Anthology is new, fresh and infused with youthful energy.
Euripidou, who opened the shop almost four years ago, is 28 years old and the chief designer. Kara Brunk, his design assistant, is 27. The three other employees are also in their 20s.
“We’re young, fun, creative. We like people to come in and see what we’re doing. Everything happens up front, in front of the customers,” Euripidou says. “It’s a different concept.”
Customers can watch a designer create their bouquet at a 10-by-4-foot table or they can sit and wait in a big, cushy leather chair and look inside the plant cooler, which like a giant aquarium could soothe jangled nerves with its tropical flowers and plants.
On a recent afternoon, there was the snip-snip sound of scissors and an aroma of green, growing things as Brunk clipped 24-inch stalks of white protea and arranged them carefully in a tall, clear glass vase.
“You have to arrange under pressure. We’re comfortable with it,” says Euripidou.
Near the front window, customers can select the color, shape and size of their floral container or gaze at jade-and-cactus terrariums and air ferns encased in glass globes that dangle from the ceiling.
Another clue that this is not your average florist shop is that what ends up in your bouquet or floral arrangement can be quite unpredictable. Each arrangement depends on the style of the designer and the flowers and plants that are in the cooler on that particular day.
“We typically don’t do a dozen roses by themselves,” Euripidou says. “There’s no set inventory. Everything is custom designed. Nothing is prearranged. Very rarely does something come out the same. We always put something new and special in it.”
Almost every day, their flowers and plants are flown into Albany International Airport. In the summer, they come from Long Island. In the winter, it’s Florida.
On this cold and cloudy day, a peek into the cooler reveals white hydrangea, spikes of yellow forsythia, tall plumes of Australian ferns and a spray of cream-colored cymbidium orchids.
Euripidou, who graduated from Parsons School of Design, describes his floral designs as “modern and contemporary, ... lush textures, garden styles, Asian. I studied architecture. My approach is more about the design than an arrangement of flowers.”
The temperature of the flower cooler, 54 degrees, is not typical either. Most florists’ coolers are set at 35 or 38. The warmer environment prevents shock when the flowers are removed and helps them last as long as possible after they are arranged, he says.
Euripidou and his young staff specialize in designing and coordinating one-of-a-kind weddings, and their business is growing.
In 2011, they put together a Peruvian-inspired reception for a couple from New York City who got married lakeside in Lake Placid.
“It was very organic, chaotic but elegant. We designed the whole space,” he says, describing tables with plants and grasses “growing out of them,” ceilings swathed in white fabric and personal memorabilia as decorations.
This summer, they are doing a wedding inside MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass., underneath Xu Bing’s massive bird sculptures in the contemporary art museum’s largest gallery.
Anthology has worked on weddings as far west as Buffalo, and in New York City and Boston.
“We did 105 weddings last year. We’re already close to that booking this year,” Euripidou says.
He designs the wedding spaces on computer or at a drafting table in a small office at the back of the shop, where the framed image of a Byzantine-Greek madonna hangs over his desk.
“That was a gift from a priest when I opened, a good luck blessing,” he says.
When Euripidou is not working at Anthology, he’s at St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Schenectady, where he serves as president and instructor for its traditional Greek dancers.
This September, for the seventh year, he’ll be chairman of the annual Greek Festival.
Euripidou, whose Greek name is pronounced “your-RIP-a-due,” grew up in Rotterdam and graduated from Schalmont High School.
Because he’s saving up money to build his own house, he lives with his parents in Rotterdam, where he has designed multiple flower and vegetable gardens.
Brunk, his assistant, also lives with her parents, on 5 1⁄2 acres outside Altamont.
“For both of us, our passion for flowers came from our mothers,” Brunk says.