So sprung! Cape Town florists talk the art of contemporary flower design

September is the month of spring and often associated with blooming buds. When it comes to thinking about the art of flower arranging, often we think wedding bouquets, funeral wreaths and Valentine’s Day arrangements without giving much thought to whose green fingers are responsible for creating the works of art or the dynamic and groundbreaking floristry industry at large.

In the spirit of spring, we chatted to three contemporary Cape Town florists Cynthia Fan, Storm Ross and Chelsea Blakemore about the discipline and engaging or disrupting floristry traditions, plus more.

Storm Ross

Who: Founder of Holloway Floral Design
Signature style: English Garden-inspired arrangements

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Creative approach: I incorporate a lot of foraged material in my designs, which help me achieve a more natural style. I hope to achieve a sense of the wild unknown in each arrangement but where every bloom and branch has been considered carefully for its line, texture colour and proportion.

Arrangement style: I get to work with my hands. And spend my days rooting about for unusual and beautiful ingredients amongst the shrubbery, and then turn it into something different every time. No day is the same as no flower or arrangement is.

On contemporary floristry: My take on contemporary design is a balance between traditional techniques and a more lush and wild style, mostly influenced by the British florist Constance Spry, who puts it perfectly in saying, “Just be natural and light-hearted and pretty and simple and overflowing and general and baroque and bare and austere and stylised and wild and daring and conservative, and learn and learn and learn. Open your mind to every form of beauty.” Follow Holloway Floral Design.

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Cynthia Fan

Who: Florist at LUSH
Signature style: Ikebana-inspired arrangements

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Creative approach: I like to start by finding one special element — a branch/bowl/flowers — and complementing what I found most special about the element with additional flowers and foliage.

Arrangement style: The Japanese Ikebana-inspired arrangements are my favourite to create. I love that the minimalist approach allows a bloom, a branch and a bit of foliage to form a complete arrangement.

On contemporary floristry: Vases aren’t always necessary, gerberas — a popular cut flower — aren’t necessarily kitsch, and carnations are a necessity. I love that contemporary floristry values all types of plant material, not just roses and lilies. Follow Cynthia.

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 Chelsea Blakemore

Who: Founder of floral design studio Cosmia
Signature style: Experimental installations

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Creative approach: I spent some time working in theatre and that’s definitely spilt over into the work I do now; I’m really into fantasy, narrative and world-building.

Arrangement style: I enjoy making things at the intersection of installation, art direction and set-design that uses flowers as a medium, as opposed to traditional ‘flower arrangements’.

On contemporary floristry: I feel like the spaces, motives and contexts that contemporary florists are exploring and have the chance to engage with are really exciting, and that informs the work. While growing up, I thought cut flowers were just for weddings or Valentine’s Day — it’s still that but they’re also found in art galleries, runways and fashion magazines. It feels like it’s not just about the flowers anymore, it’s also about art, design, sculpture and evocation. Follow Cosmia Studio.

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