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Quiet beauty of ikebana showcased at Cranbrook House

Erica Hobbs
Special to The Detroit News

A new exhibit at the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research will offer visitors the chance to experience some of Japanese culture up close. This weekend, the center is presenting “Ikebana / 生け花: The Art of Japanese Floral Arrangement,” which will showcase a variety of floral designs and demonstrations at the historic Cranbrook House.

Ikebana, translated as “living flowers” or “giving life to flowers,” is the Japanese art of flower arranging, known for its harmonious use of asymmetry and empty space.

Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Director Greg Wittkopp said it’s a subtle beauty.

“Ikebana / 生け花: The Art of Japanese Floral Arrangement” will showcase a variety of floral designs and demonstrations within the historic Cranbrook House.

“It’s not like walking into an over-the-top wedding arrangement where there is just color everywhere,” he said. “This is going to be something that will unfold in a much more quiet way.”

The exhibit will include more than 30 arrangements from Michigan floral artists, placed throughout the first floor of Cranbrook House. The arrangements will vary in scale and design and represent different schools of ikebana practiced by artists throughout the world. Guests will also have the opportunity to watch the floral arrangements being made in person, with live demonstrations from certified ikebana instructors Cheryl Linck, Janet Knowlton and Leslie Rosinski, who each practice from a different school.  

Visitors can also enjoy guided tours of Cranbrook House as well as its Japanese Garden, which is a beneficiary of the event. Dating back to 1915, the garden is one of the oldest in North America and currently undergoing a multi-phase rejuvenation that will both restore its features and add new ones, including adding Japanese pavilions as well as new bridges and pathways.

“It’s a way that we can restore the historic features of the garden but then augment the garden with new features and new elements, that will make it even more authentic,” Wittkopp said.

Tours and demonstrations will be timed, so Wittkopp recommends visitors arrive early to guarantee availability.

An exhibition preview and wine reception Friday night will feature music performed by Harumi Omitsu on a traditional koto, the national instrument of Japan.

Wittkopp said the weekend is an opportunity to relax and enjoy simple beauty.

Cranbrook House

“We live in a very fast-paced, busy culture,” he said. “To be able to experience these ikebana arrangements, it’s really an opportunity to slow down, to look carefully at what is in front of you, to notice the spaces in-between. It’s a very quiet, poetic art form.”

'Ikebana / 生け花: The Art of Japanese Floral Arrangement'

noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Cranbrook House, 380 Lone Pine Road, Bloomfield Hills

Tickets: $25 for adults; $10 for full-time students with ID.

Friday’s preview will take place from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $125 for one or $225 for two. For more information, visit