WESTMONT – Joe Lesczynski loves a good challenge.
Lesczynski, a floral designer and general manager of Phillip's Flowers & Gifts Design Center in Westmont, will be one of nine competing in the eighth annual Iron Designer competition June 9 in Chicago.
He has been in the floral business more than 40 years and has owned three floral shops, but now focuses his time and attention on the center in Westmont. Lesczynski, of Willowbrook, believes competing at Iron Designer will benefit the center and his employees.
"I feel in my heart that I will win this competition, and if I don't win I look forward to learning from new people," he said. "I'll be able to take an aspect of floral design and turn it into something new. I can take those ideas and bring them back to my shop to improve upon designs."
Iron Designer is part of the annual International Floriculture Expo. The expo features vendors displaying floral products and designs in order to spark new ideas and communication among florists. It is making its Chicago debut June 8 to 10 at McCormick Place south of downtown.
For the first time, the expo will partner with United Fresh, a produce association, and FMI Connect, a food marketing institute. The collaboration is intended to unite the floral and fresh food industries, according to a news release about the event.
The theme of this year's competition is "Fusion of Produce and Floral," and the Iron Designer contestants will be incorporating fresh produce into their arrangements.
The designers will not know what type of produce or flowers they will be working with until the start of the 30-minute competiton.
"The inclusion of produce adds a new twist to the competition this year," said event manager Christine Salmon in the release. "The designers are top-notch, so we know their arrangements will be one-of-a kind and the epitome of fresh in all that it represents."