OPUS is the Cape Town-based floristry that specialises in ‘potless gardens’ as well as innovative flower arrangements and floral installations. Started in 2011 as a passion project by Marissa Pretorius, OPUS has blossomed into a fully-fledged and awarded design brand in just these few years. We chatted to Marissa to learn a little more about her path leading her to where she is today, and whether it’s true that some are born with ‘green fingers’ whilst others not.
How does your background in photography and graphic design influence your current work in floristry?
Not having any formal training in floristry my background in photography and graphic has had a strong design influence on my work. It has taught me the basics of design, conceptual thinking and problem solving as well as having an eye for detail. While working in the advertising industry I worked allot on store-front designs which I think have contributed in how I view and think about a space. Most of my plant knowledge and floral arranging skills I have learned from my mother who has great experience in this field.
Where did you learn the art of kokedama and what attracted you to this?
I stumbled upon Kokedama while doing general research on floristry and plants. I started experimenting with our first hanging plants on my kitchen table. I had a small launch on a range of Opus ladies jackets, I suspended a few of the hanging plants purely as decor. The hanging plants were a greater hit than the jackets and became our main business offering till this day. The dream was always floristry and I never expected such a great demand for Kokedama.
What do you love most about what you do?
Working for myself. As hard work as it is, it is very rewarding to build your own brand and not having to make any sacrifices or compromises. It has allowed to me add bits of myself into the Opus brand… almost like an extended version of myself. I am also completely in love with my shop!
Please tell us about your creative process for creating a new project…
Most project are driven by briefs or client requirements that I will then further develop based on visual reference or ideas that I have gathered over time. I am inspired by architecture, international florists and local flora.
What’s your favourite flower or plant?
My current obsession is Ficus Lyrata because it is so hard to get hold of. Favourite flower …. orchid flowers.
When you were little, what did you want to be?
What was the hardest part about starting Opus, and what have been some of the highlights since taking that step?
I started Opus part-time investing every freelance penny I had. Opus moved into a studio that was open to the public Fridays and Saturday. Even when I opened the shop I was still freelancing 3 days a week. I think the hardest part was to get past having to freelance and to do Opus full-time. I have managed to achieve this and in a short period of 2 years the list of clients and the exposure we have received is incredible.
What are some of the projects you’ve enjoyed most and why?
In 2013 we were asked to do plants for all the Weylandts Stores countrywide with roughly 30 – 50 plants per store in a timeline of a month. It was a great challenge, but it also showed us what we were capable of and how we have grown. Some of my favourite weddings have been Karin & Craig’s and a recent wedding for Wedding Concepts.
Does everyone have innate ‘green fingers’, or is this something that only the lucky are blessed with?
I don’t believe in ‘green fingers’, it is all about reading the caring instructions and following through.
What is the OPUS floristry style and aesthetic?
Classical techniques juxtaposed with contemporary design aesthetic.
What can we look forward to from Opus in the future?
I have two exciting projects on the horizon. The one is a collaboration with a local sculptor and the other a new Opus product range.
See more of Marissa’s beautiful floral creations on the OPUS website.