Book review Blooms contemporary floral design Phaidon Roomy Home UK

Book review – Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design by Phaidon

Book review Blooms contemporary floral design Phaidon Roomy Home UK

Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design by Phaidon is all about floristry as a changing (and boundary-pushing) art form.

Inside, the curated works of more than 80 contemporary florists illustrate what the editors call a “wildly changing art form”. The book showcases the rapidly blurring lines between floristry and other arts – sculpture, fashion, painting.

Although there are plenty of bridal bouquets and hand-tied arrangements, this book is all about florists who push the boundaries in their work.

“It demonstrates just how far innovative designers have extended the limits of floral design today.” 

Phaidon

*This post contains an affiliate link. Roomy Home was given a review copy of this book by the publishers, with no obligation.

What’s new in Blooms?

The answer is lots of interesting and innovative ways with blooms, from styling to context.

I loved reading about Lewis Miller Design and his trademark Flower Flash, where leftover event flowers in their thousands are transformed into street art in New York.

His trashcan flowers are beautiful too – such a symbolic reminder of avoiding waste.

Bold flower and fruit combinations are centuries-old – just look at Old Masters’ still lifes. Blooms presents an upgrade on this timeless theme, where flowers and fruit combine in the name of art and (often) fashion.

I saw a variation on this theme recently in Bar Abaco in Palma de Mallorca, which stages a petal shower on Friday evenings, in a slightly surreal space that overflows with blooms and fresh produce. You can read more about it here in my city guide to Palma.

Roomy Home UK book review Blooms Phaidon Bar Abaco Palma Mallorca
Bar Abaco, Palma de Mallorca, where flowers and fruit collide

flowers & fashion

The trend for wearable flowers is growing, and this book includes “corsage ambassador” Passion Flower Sue. This pic shows a stunning beaded bridal necklace, adorned with Nigella “African Bride”.

The space where floristry meets fashion is a strong feature of Blooms.

I loved the survey of surreal storytelling from Parisian florist Eric Chauvin, alongside the images from various haute couture fashion houses he has designed for. He once used 400,000 blue delphiniums to create a floral mound in the Louvre courtyard for Dior.

Likewise, Flora Starkey in the UK designed a miniature meadow for Paul Smith and a floral carpet for Preen.

Flowers have moved onto the models’ bodies too. Jérémy Martin, working in Australia as Les Ephémères, is a “florist turned couturier”. The couture he creates is temporal, fading as the blooms decay, giving a wry beauty to the flowers.

The #grownnotflown floral movement has gathered momentum lately, although Blooms also includes an innovative type of flown flowers.

Did you know that one florist sent his flowers into space? Azumo Makoto filmed his bonsai tree and floral arrangement on their botanical space flight in 2014. Since then, he’s encased bouquets in ice sculptures for fashion designers and Sotheby’s.

Best stylists’ takeaways from Blooms?

The floral trends in the book will continue to become mainstream, even for amateur/at-home florists.

In my opinion, the main takeaways for the professional and interested amateur are –

Go Local & seasonal

That means all four seasons too, not just focusing on spring. There’s a quiet beauty in the foraged flowers used in Blooms, and that’s a very accessible trend for us all.

The rise in flower farms also back ups the trend for locally grown, seasonal blooms (#grownnotflown). It’s more sustainable and makes for interesting variations in the type of arrangements we see online from around the world.

Feel free

Much of the floristry in Blooms is more naturalistic and looser in style than we’ve seen previously.

This seems partly due to the open vessels used for arrangements, which lend themselves to a more sprawling shape. It’s definitely worth experimenting with scale and width, for dramatic arrangements that feel a bit more free-flowing.

treasure the fallen petals

I loved seeing the unconventional and fantastical displays, particularly those that revealed the various stages in the life of a bloom, even showing flowers approaching decay, fallen petals and all …

It reminds me of the move to embrace ageing that we see in the skincare and beauty industry. I wonder if we’ll see floristry focus more on this in the future?

It’s certainly more sustainable not to discard a bloom when it’s passed its peak. And there’s always beauty to be found in the stem that’s bending under the weight of its bloom, or casting petals below it. As culture leans more towards slow living, enjoying flowers at every stage of their incarnation tells a more authentic story.

Who are the florists?

One big bonus I took from this book was discovering lots of new florists, then exploring more of their work online.

You can’t ignore the huge role that social media plays highlighting these floral artists’ work. While many of them have physical stores, their shopfronts are now also our screens.

Specially commissioned text for each artist is accompanied by stunning images. While I thought I followed many contemporary florists online, it was a joy to discover many new ones.

For example, new to me were these two Canadians – Coyote in the east and Cultivated on the west coast.

Coyote Flowers

Lauren Sellen of Coyote Flowers produces dramatic, storytelling floral vignettes, often with just one type of flower at a time. Her model wrapped in pink gauze bandages, with an armful of baby pink hydrangeas, particularly struck me – soft and edgy at the same time.

Cultivated

Cultivated, in BC on the Canadian west coast, combines floristry with photographic expertise, as seen in this asymmetric pink and purple cocktail against a dark backdrop.

Flower Appreciation Society

A knitwear designer and a midwife joined together to create the Flower Appreciation Society. Featuring many local and seasonal blooms, they were early innovators of the floral crown. They also teach workshops and training courses – attending one is definitely on my wishlist.

Flowered by Thierry Feret

The joyous madness of the Parisian shop of a self-taught florist – Flowered by Thierry Feret – caught my eye. It’s full-on maximalist floristry, impossible to resist without smiling.

Green and gorgeous

Green and Gorgeous is an Oxfordshire-based team founded by Rachel Siegfried, growing flowers and running classes. Their arrangements are full of locally grown, seasonal, sustainable blooms like this.

Simply by arrangement

Another UK-based florist, Simply by Arrangement, combines exquisite floristry and photography by a former criminal lawyer.

Blooms are garden-gathered, and often have lovely movement in the arrangements, whether they’re stretching their heads high or trailing onto the surface below.


Inspired by Blooms & need a copy now?

Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design was published in 2019 (£35, Phaidon).

Click the cover image to find out more.

Blooms front cover book review Roomy Home UK
Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design (affiliate link)

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