Scent is serious business for Maurice Harris. From the way he uses fragrances on his own body to the combination of aromas in his Los Angeles home, the florist, artist, and founder of Bloom & Plume is super conscious of how scent can create or enhance an experience. He notes, "It's the exclamation mark, the thread that connects the garment, the harmonies that make a song sound really beautiful—it's just connecting all the dots." Maurice is one of five makers and creatives we are partnering with for our new Sense of Home campaign, which examines experiencing our spaces through each of our five senses: smell, sight, sound, taste, and touch. The floral designer is self-described as "scent-obsessed," so we were beyond excited to be invited to discover how he curates the scent story of his home.
Harris is an artist at heart, though he admits that for a long time he had a hard time labeling himself as such. When founding Bloom & Plume, the florist wanted to make floral designs and arrangements feel like an art form. At both the floral studio and its namesake coffee shop, Maurice makes sure that aesthetics are at the forefront. That consideration extends to the rest of his life as well. "I approach everything I do as an art project. From how I dress to how I express myself to how I decorate my home to the business I operate." We witnessed his approach firsthand on the day of our shoot.
"Each room is its own instrument, and then together, it makes this beautiful bouquet."
Resplendent in a green-and-white checkered knit set while resting upright in bed, Maurice Harris explains how every room in his house has a scent, creating this wonderful symphony. "Each room is its own instrument, and then together," he motions with his hands, "it makes this beautiful bouquet." Walking through the artist's Echo Park duplex, we experience that story: the living room which features cannabis and cedar notes, a very floral dining room, a kitchen that has hints of citrusy aromas, a bathroom with clean and sage notes, Harris' bedroom which is a bit mintier and a bit sexier. Tying it together, Maurice sprinkles incense all around—in hallways and at the top of his stairs—allowing the fragrance to waft between spaces.
Maurice's practice of utilizing scents in his home started years ago, before becoming one of the most renowned florists in Los Angeles. It began with a desire to curate the way his long-time apartment smelled precisely because it was the most unexpected thing for guests and loved ones visiting. "You start with the visual; you have living things—plants, for example—that activate the space and bring it to life, and then scent makes it complete. It's the thing that always tends to surprise people, and I love the element of surprise. I love engaging people in a way that they didn't expect." Harris laughs, "It's all very experiential when you engage with me."
What is also true is that experience lingers. Maurice notes that his assistant, who he communicated with mostly via video calls during the pandemic, visited recently. She happily announced, "It's just so comforting—the scent of your home hasn't changed. I love it here." His brother also mentioned he hadn't been in his living room in a while but lovingly noted that he could still smell it. Similarly, Maurice explains that certain smells trigger happy and deeply emotional responses in him to date, affecting not only his home but also his work.
The smell of cedar, for one. "I think about my mother's cedar chest. It makes me think of really fond memories of being a curious little kid and imagining what my mom was like when she was young." That woodsy scent also pops up when thinking about his grandmother's home, with its mix of "mothballs, cedar, and potpourri," noting that it was so distinct and good that he still wants to bottle it. Harris' grandmother was also influential in his journey into floral design, as he grew up with her making flower arrangements.
The artist beautifully notes the connection between his creative medium and his familial history, "We are what we see. And so when you can imagine a different existence and insert yourself into that existence, I think that's really powerful and moving. And it makes a difference in people's creativity and how they see themselves." Maurice's work, both as a florist and visual artist, is so compelling and profound because it takes the idea of beauty and uses different elements to bring something magical to life and challenge our status quo on beauty.
When we thought about the stories we wanted to tell in our Sense of Home campaign, we wanted to explore what it means to bring beauty into one's home. We want to ask what is considered beautiful and how do we reclaim our spaces for ourselves. As Maurice states, for him, "My house is a direct reflection of my brain and my heart. It's the bouquet of myself, I guess. It's filled with all the different scents that I love and all the different objects that I've collected. My home is such a special place to me."