Once the preserve of the ladies of the Women’s Institute, floristry is now enjoying a new – hipper – lease of life. You can barely last five minutes on Pinterest or Instagram without spying a snap of an incredible floral arrangement; whether it’s a wedding bouquet, a dinner table centrepiece or simply a vase on the mantelpiece. We meet Helen Dyson, joint Founder and CEO of the new London Flower School in King’s Cross to discuss this blooming revolution.
Is it fair to say that floristry has had a bit of an image overhaul in recent times?
Social media has played a huge role in changing the image of floristry, but floral design as an art form has existed for many years prior to the advent of this. Consider the paintings of the Golden Age of Dutch Art, where many of the still-life paintings focused on floral arrangements, or the work of Constance Spry in the 1930s (a celebrity florist of her time), whose beautiful floral designs are an inspiration to us today. But, as a visual product, social media has certainly expanded both the appeal and reach of floristry.
Have you noticed a different demographic now showing an interest in floristry?
Yes, floristry is appealing to a younger audience in part due to social media but, also, because floral design is now seen as a recognised art form. This new demographic are creative and experimental, and are happy to challenge the traditional role of floristry.
Do we now have access to more exotic flowers than we used to, or are we just more aware of them?
A little of both. Holland has traditionally been the home of flower growers, however globalisation has created new centres of flower production. These are typically developing countries like Columbia (the second largest exporter of flowers), Ecuador, Ethiopia, Kenya and India. This open market has not only led to a growth in production, but also a wider availability of what were previously seen as more exotic types of flowers.
What are the most on-trend blooms of the moment? And what flowers are underrated and deserve more attention, in your view?
Peonies are always on-trend; they are a simple, beautiful bloom that don’t require any addition. The carnation is the most underrated flower; the variety available today has expanded way beyond what was once seen as the traditional ‘garage flower’.
What is it about the art of floristry that first drew you to this profession?
Wagner Kreusch – joint Founder and Managing Director of London Flower School – is a graphic designer and an artist, and views floral design as a graphic project. His mother was a florist, so he spent his early life in Brazil around floristry and exotic flora. Floristry was therefore a natural media through which to express himself. I, on the other hand, came to floristry later in life. I have spent most of my working life as a teacher, and when I decided to leave teaching, I was drawn to the creative aspect of floral design. Ultimately, however, I found that I enjoyed the educational side of floristry the most – once a teacher, always a teacher!
What makes a great florist and what are the essential skills needed to succeed in the industry?
What makes a great florist, as opposed to someone who can make floral arrangements, is creativity, and we emphasise this at the London Flower School. We provide our students with a ‘safe space’ to experiment with different styles of floral design, and encourage them to be creative and fi nd their own style. Commercially, it is also important that a florist has an understanding of floristry from a business perspective – it is a very competitive market and succeeding in the industry requires an understanding of marketing, social media, business management and so on.
londonflowerschool.com; 020 8181 4154