Friday, 31 October 2014

Fabulous flora

Modern flower design is redefining beauty, and the latest creations are magnificent

Written by Olivier Dupon
Of all the fascinating trades that have long been practised, floristry must count as among the most special. I remember being enraptured by the sumptuous array presented in Jan Brueghel the Younger’s A Basket Of Flowers, an oil on wood painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Witnessing, among other things, the current renaissance of the Old World touch – young florists seeking out heirloom varietals and designing with a Dutch master’s flair – is therefore a particular joy. We may have lost the significance of the iconography of flowers in today’s arrangements, so prevalent in still lifes of flowers and fruits in the late Middle Ages, but what we have gained is limitless artistry. I believe the English language captures the essence correctly when it speaks of ‘still life’, whereas the French nature morte (dead nature) could not be more anomalous for a pictorial celebration of life. Who can resist the inherent beauty of flora? It is confirmation that nature is perfect.

House-Oct31-01-5901. Contemporary trio combining both drama and romance. La Belle pink roses, pink hydrangeas and Sarah Bernhardt peonies are all featured 2. Using a mix of materials, this arrangement references the past without being stuck in it. The plants here include white roses and Silver Dollar eucalyptus 3. This arrangement is all about movement, with the curves of the tulips and the Queen Anne’s lace reaching up above. See how the cut glass reflects light

Long hours, physical hardship and low margins are often the florist’s lot. But is there anything more noble and honourable than crafting with a living material? It is also heartening to witness the effort an increasing number of floral artists have been making to source their stock responsibly. Some even manage their own flower farms.

House-Oct31-02-590Playing with colours and  owers, and the clever grouping of the vases, led to this striking display

Even more beguiling has been the discovery of talents who are forging their own path and working with flowers in totally unique ways, irrespective of trends. Working on my new book has had a marked effect on me. Once a week I now rush to the best local flower shop, engage with the florist, ask the names of flowers and experiment with how the blooms work together. I defy you not to feel the same urge.

House-Oct31-03-5905. Inspired by the Garden of Temples in Kyoto, Japan, this arrangement includes fresh moss, anthurium, hydrangea, cymbidium orchid, chrysanthemum, amaranthus, camellia leaves, teasels and honesty 6. For this ‘Collapsible Leaves’ creation, thousands of leaves were folded and positioned individually
House-Oct31-04-5907. Installation of mixed flowers hanging from a chandelier 8. Tulips stand upright in a cup of water, while hydrangeas trimmed with scissors form a sort of vase around them 9. The ‘Fish Flowers’ series combines two aesthetically pleasing life forms – fish and flowers. The flowers are arranged in a water tank filled with swimming fish; both elements in shades of blue

Floral Contemporary: The Renaissance In Flower Design, by Olivier Dupon, is published by Thames & Hudson, priced £45.

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