Montclair Magazine Holiday 2021 - Page 34

SAY IT WITH FLOWERS Merritt planned and contributed floral arrangements to awedding in Tivoli , New York .
solver . With many other designers , you can tell that it is their party because they always go back to the same look and style . With Rebecca , it is always unique and different .”
A top position for Singer at media company Alkemy X brought the family to the New York area in spring 2016 . Twelve days after moving into their Montclair home , Merritt ’ s brother-in-law connected her with a colleague who was getting married in Manhattan ’ s Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center , and she handled the floral designs . “ Our first floor became a production studio ,” she says . “ We had to rent refrigerated trucks , and ittook an hour to get from security at 30 Rock to the loading dock at the Rainbow Room .” Her husband called the experience “ Flower Grad School .” She loved every minute of it .
Ruthie Perretti of Ruthie ’ s Bar-B-Q & Pizza , during a dog walk around Edgemont Park , suggested that she do design work for Jazz House Kids . The nonprofit ’ s 330-person gala at NJPAC in 2017 , which Merritt
designed , from the signage mounted on columns to cocktails of choice , was a joy to arrange . “ My favorite thing to do is to transform a space ,” she says .
She found another opportunity to do that for the Montclair Art Museum . “ After we moved , we would pass the tent on the museum lawn every day ( for the annual gala ), and I would say , ‘ I ’ m going to do that tent one day ,’” she recalls . As a sweetener , she offered her services at a steep discount , and ended up designing a table for MAM ’ s biennial Art in Bloom luncheon . This led to the job designing the museum ’ s 2018 gala . Merritt , who was brought in to the project weeks before the event , reimagined it from the ground up , arranging for custom art to be projected on the ceiling , ornamental 15-foot trees to line the walls and 6-7-foot trees to look as if they were growing out of the tables themselves .
Design work for the 600-attendee St . Joseph ’ s Gala followed , as well as food events in the city staged by Jeremy Steindecker , the grand opening for the MC Hotel on Bloomfield Avenue , and a wedding ceremony at
The George . She even branched out into TV production design , when Singer was involved in a show on the TLC Network called Dragnificent . “ There were four of the most famous drag queens in the country on that show ,” she says .
While the pandemic brought a hard stop to live events , Merritt was used to working around entertainment challenges , and came up with a new business : Zoom & Bloom Virtual Floral Workshop . Clients receive seasonal flowers overnight , along with care instructions , bud vases and a tool kit . After the flowers have hydrated for a few hours , recipients join a live virtual floral workshop and learn how to make professionallooking arrangements at home .
Merritt continues her work with Zoom & Bloom , even as in-person events have come roaring back . At present , R . Merritt Productions has an all-woman core crew of four regulars , including a freelance floral designer and a fine artist who handles projections and backdrops . “ If I imagine something crazy , she can create it ,” says Merritt . “ We share a brain .” ■