WHEN DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER YOUR LOVE FOR FLOWERS?
I was born and raised in Saigon, Vietnam, a tropical country with abundant sunshine, rainfall and vibrant flowers. My father’s family owned a tea plantation, and he would often infuse green tea with the delicate fragrance of jasmine. When I was just a young child, I vividly recall the mesmerizing ritual that unfolded in the tea room each morning when my father would receive a shipment of hundreds of pounds of freshly hand picked jasmine buds, brought directly from the local farm. The moment those boxes arrived, the air in our tea room would transform into an enchanting symphony of scents.
I was captivated by the allure of those delicate blossoms and couldn’t resist sneaking into the tea room whenever I had the chance. The petals felt soft and cool against my skin, and the fragrance enveloped me, transporting me to a world of pure tranquility. Sometimes, I would even fall asleep amidst the sea of fragrant blooms, feeling embraced by their ethereal beauty. That initial fascination with jasmine blossoms in our tea room sparked a lifelong love affair with flowers. As a kid, I became attuned to the scents and colours of flowers in every house I visited, and dreamed of making my own perfume.
Eventually, my passion for flowers led me to pursue studies in architecture and interior design. I found myself drawn to the artistry of floral arrangements and their ability to transform spaces. Working with interior design publications, I often sought out flowers to enhance the ambiance of photoshoots, ensuring that every composition was imbued with the enchantment that flowers bring.
WHAT DID YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT SHOWCASING YOUR WORK AT A FLEURS DE VILLES SHOW?
One of the most enjoyable aspects was the opportunity to come together with fellow floral designers, flower brokers, farmers, and generous sponsors, all collaborating to serve the public community with our designs. The camaraderie and shared purpose of bringing joy to others was palpable, and it was a delight to witness the smiles and happiness our creations brought to the attendees of the show.
Moreover, being part of Fleurs de Villes allowed me to be a part of something larger than myself - not only showcasing our individual talents but also about nurturing and inspiring new generations of talented individuals. By sharing our designs and experiences, we hoped to spark a light of inspiration that would guide and empower future designers to surpass our achievements and continue pushing the boundaries of floral design. It was an enriching experience that reminded me of the profound impact we can have when we come together and celebrate the beauty of flowers.
WHO INSPIRES YOU FROM THE WORLDS OF ART, FASHION, ENTERTAINMENT OR DESIGN?
During my time working at a furniture showroom and factory, I was drawn to the opulent floral designs of Madama De Rococo and the intricate artistry of Art Nouveau. As I delved deeper into the realms of fashion, two iconic designers captured my imagination: Jean-Paul Gaultier and John Galliano. I marvelled at their visionary approach to haute couture, and how they seamlessly incorporated the essence and beauty of flowers into their designs. Their ability to fuse the worlds of fashion and flora inspired me immensely. Their imaginative interpretations and artful craftsmanship showcased the boundless creativity that can be found at the intersection of design and nature. It ignited a passion within me to explore the ways in which flowers can be infused into various creative endeavours, from interior design to event planning and beyond.
HOW DO YOU INCORPORATE FLOWERS INTO YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
Incorporating flowers into my personal style, both in fashion and at home, revolves around a simple yet bold approach. I find beauty in the elegance of simplicity, and enjoy the challenge of designing with one single type of flower to create a cohesive and impactful statement. This allows me to explore the unique characteristics of each blossom, like discovering the individual personalities that reside within them. By embracing the natural essence of the flower, I create dramatic and striking floral sculptures that let the flower shine and express its inherent beauty. It's a constant learning experience as I observe how the flower interacts with its surroundings, adapting to the light, temperature, and atmosphere of my home.
WHAT IS YOUR TOP FLORAL TIP FOR OUR FLEURS DE VILLES GUESTS?
My top floral tip for guests would be to take lots of photos and videos to capture the beauty of the show. Not only will these serve as a visual reminder of intricate floral arrangements and breathtaking displays, but they can also provide ideas and inspiration for your own floral endeavours!
IF YOU WERE A FLOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I would undoubtedly choose the tulip. Around 30 years ago, Saigon was still recovering from the ravages of war. Imported flowers were a rarity, and catching a glimpse of tulips was a true luxury. One day I saw some stem tulips that had been placed in an ice bucket to preserve them from the scorching heat. This seemed peculiar to me, and I couldn’t fathom why they were being treated this way. Little did I know that this encounter would become a turning point in my connection with flowers.
Since I began working with flowers, my love of different blooms has continued to evolve, but the tulip has steadily emerged as my favorite and holds a deep meaning for me. What fascinates me most is their ability to grow even after being cut from the ground. To me, this symbolizes resilience and the indomitable spirit of life.
So, as a tulip, I find solace in the knowledge that, like the flower, I can continue to flourish and evolve, no matter the circumstances or hardships I may face.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF THE PERFECT FLOWER ARRANGEMENT TO RECEIVE?
For me, the perfect flower arrangement to receive is one that is created with passion, love, and respect for nature. Whether they are simple or elaborate, they are most beautiful when they are thoughtfully crafted, reflect the unique creativity of the florist and resonate and bring joy to the recipient. It's the thought and sentiment behind the gesture of giving flowers that truly matters, as flowers have a way of brightening our lives and conveying heartfelt emotions.
WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS WHEN DESIGNING AN ARRANGEMENT?
My creative process involves tapping into an inner voice and using sensory perception combined with past floral design experiences. It begins with an initial idea or concept, influenced by how I envision the design and the emotions it evokes within me. The next step involves experimenting with different types of flowers, comparing their colours, shapes, and how they harmonize with other elements. It's a process of exploration and discovery, as I seek to find the perfect combination that brings my vision to life. Each flower becomes a unique component, contributing to the overall visual composition.
Through this process, I strive to create cohesive and captivating pieces that are not only visually appealing, but also resonates with the viewer on an emotional level - conveying a story or evoking a specific mood. It's a dynamic and ever-evolving process that allows me to bring my creative ideas to life.
WHO INSPIRES YOU FROM THE WORLD OF FLORAL DESIGN?
I find inspiration from all floral designers. Working with experienced designers provides me with insights into past design styles, classical beauty, and practical applications. On the other hand, younger designers showcase innovative approaches that challenge traditional norms. These interactions offer me a fresh perspective and encourage me to explore new directions in floral design. Digital platforms and resources have also allowed me to learn from a diverse range of designers from around the world, and using AI as a tool to generate image ideas has inspired me to push the boundaries of floral design in unique ways.
CAN YOU SHARE ANY TIPS FOR NOVICE FLORAL DESIGNERS LOOKING TO IMPROVE THEIR SKILLS?
As someone who has transitioned from interior design to floral design, the advice I’d like to share is based on the teachings of design mentors and the lessons I've learned from working and learning alongside talented people:
1. Observation is key. Pay attention to the world around you, immerse yourself in nature, and study the beauty and structure of flowers. Take inspiration from various sources, including art, fashion, and architecture. The more you observe, the more ideas and inspiration you'll gather for your designs.
2. Be true to yourself: Embrace your unique style, ideas, and creative instincts. Learn from experienced designers and mentors but don't let others shape you entirely; instead, seek guidance while staying true to your own vision.
3. Continuous learning and unlearning: The world of design is constantly evolving, so it's essential to remain curious and open to new knowledge and techniques. Embrace a growth mindset, be willing to unlearn previous approaches, and adapt to new trends and styles. Take courses, attend workshops, and learn from fellow designers to enhance your skills.
4. Embrace the realities of the industry: While floral design may seem glamorous from the outside, it's important to acknowledge the realities of the profession - be prepared for the hard work, perseverance, and dedication required to succeed in this field.
5. Practice and experiment: Practice makes perfect - experiment with different flower varieties, color combinations, and design techniques. Keep refining your skills, push your creative boundaries, and don't be afraid to take risks.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON SUSTAINABILITY AND ECO-FRIENDLY PRACTICES IN THE FLORAL INDUSTRY?
It’s great to see more people involved in the floral industry showing concern for the environment, like making efforts to minimize the use of harmful materials such as reducing plastic wrapping for bouquets, however there is still more to be done. For example, some farms may rely heavily on synthetic stimulants, fertilizers, and pesticides, which can have adverse effects on the environment and pose risks to the health of florists and, importantly, to customers who come into contact with the flowers.
It is crucial for the floral industry to continue to prioritize sustainable practices such as sourcing flowers from responsible growers who prioritize organic and sustainable farming methods, reducing waste through thoughtful packaging choices, and exploring alternatives to harmful chemicals. Embracing eco-conscious practices is an ongoing journey of improvement that requires collaboration, awareness, and a collective commitment to creating a greener and more sustainable floral industry.