It may be a while before we get to see Kanye West on Carpool Karaoke, as James Corden recently revealed that West has canceled his scheduled appearance on the show—twice. But the Late Late Show host told GQ that West made it up to him by sending “about three dozen white roses, of course. Arranged in the shape of a cube. What could be more Kanye than that?”
If this sounds familiar, it’s because West has sent similar, cuboid floral arrangements in the past, including to his on-again, off-again, currently-very-on nemesis Taylor Swift. West’s florist of choice for his these creations is the Empty Vase in Los Angeles, which also created the legendary flower wall that Kanye once gave Kim as a Mother’s Day present. Slate spoke to the shop’s director of operations, Annie Wonderlich, to learn more about Kanye’s go-to arrangement: the flower cube. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Tell me a bit about the Empty Vase.
We’ve been here for 30 years, since 1988. The location that we have in West Hollywood is 15,000 square feet with 60 employees. We do a lot of high-end events, and we have a lot of high-end clientele.
Including Kanye West.
Kanye West is definitely a customer of ours. We have amazing designers. Saeed [Babaeean, the owner] has a background in architectural engineering, so he comes up with a lot of the designs himself and he has the designers execute them.
Let’s talk about the flower cube.
It’s a custom frame that we build. We have a welder on site who makes all our topiaries, as well as that cube. It’s a metal frame that’s pre-made by the welder, then we have inside of it an oasis. An oasis is the green foam that you see sometimes in flower arrangements, and it’s filled with water.
Is it fair to say this is Kanye’s go-to, standard arrangement?
Oh yeah. This is, yeah. He does walls of flowers sometimes, too. Kanye’s very specific with what he likes. He likes a lot of white roses, he likes white hydrangeas with it, white orchids with it, so it’s kind of a variety depending on what he likes, but usually it’s all white.
How big are these cubes usually? How much does something like this weigh?
A 1-foot-by-1-foot cube weighs about 50 pounds, and that’s the water, the flowers, the frame, all that good stuff. That arrangement has around 250 flowers, give or take. Between 250 and 300 flowers.
How difficult are these cubes to make?
I would say this one takes about at least two hours to make, not including the welding time, because the welding is done in advance.
Do you make other shapes besides cubes?
We do a lot of really crazy stuff. We do anything. We do topiaries that are as tall as buildings that are giraffes. We do a lot of different things.
Let’s say I wanted to order a cube like the one Kanye sent to James Corden to apologize for backing out of Carpool Karaoke. How much would that cost?
For the 1-by-1-foot, it’s $1,600, and that’s all white roses. It depends on what kind of flowers you use, because we charge per stem. But if you wanted to order one today, we could have one ready by the end of the day or tomorrow.
Update, Aug. 3, 2016: Wonderlich replied to a message from Slate asking whether the flower cube was an original Kanye design. It was.