Jamalouki Magazine
February Issue

Interview by Joey Ghostine 

What is the story of FLOR:ISH?

 

I come from a graphic design and fashion background. I worked as digital communications manager at Maison Margiela Paris and both of these disciplines have played a role in me wanting to work with flowers as an artistic medium. FLOR:ISH was born from an urge to return to my creative roots. I had spent months obsessing over the works of a new wave of floral designers that are modernizing and redefining the craft, especially in New York. It was kind of a light bulb moment. I took a big leap of faith and jumped right into it. My goal was to approach floral design as an art form with a more serious creative merit. I take on the projects that are the most interdisciplinary, with the hope of repositioning flowers by taking them out of their traditional context.

Isn’t the flower the most vulnerable creature to work with? Is the art you create considered difficult?

 

Working with flowers is very stressful, because your medium is actively dying. So much has to be taken into consideration, from storage, to transportation, to climate conditions, to whether or not your installation will have a water source etc.

 

It’s a race against the clock, all the time.

 

People’s first question is always: How long will it last? And while this is a fair question, that’s something a floral designer cannot really control.

 

I think the most difficult part is not just in the logistics but also in people’s attitudes towards flowers. Many feel like it’s a waste of money because the flowers will eventually die. I wish we’d learn to live more in the moment, and enjoy flower arrangements as a time-based art piece, almost like a performance. Once it’s done, yes it’s over but you’ve enjoyed it while it was happening.

Is what you do considered art or fashion?

 

I don’t think that people view floral design as an art form, and that’s part of the challenge I’m facing. Many consider themselves buying just a product, a commodity. Maybe part of my role would be to change the client’s perception. So much work goes into a floral composition, from the time of an enquiry, to the point when you are actually arranging the flowers, so much thought, research and actual physical work goes in between. If I had to categorize it I would say it’s a form of applied arts.

 

For centuries, flowers and fashion have had an endless dialogue - partly, because flowers have always been associated with beauty, sensuality, femininity etc.

What really inspires you throughout your creating process?

There are lots of constraints in every project such as flower availabilities, budgets, logistics etc.. so I cannot always promise a specific flower, but I can guarantee a mood and a color palette. That’s why I always look at paintings, photographs, fashion, fabrics, anything outside the realm of floral design so I can stay fresh in my work. All of these inspiration triggers translate into my work in strange and interesting ways.

 

Instagram is a big source of inspiration: I look a lot at interior design spaces, or product design, and try to visualize something to goes with the space or the object. Some vases I use can inspire a shape or a movement. It really all depends on every project. I mostly enjoy the exchange with my client, sometimes they have a color in mind, or a flower in mind, and we build around that, and sometimes a client would say: “do whatever you want, I trust you”, and that’s a huge responsibility.

In the fashion industry, designers tend to create their own trends. What about your world?

 

Absolutely. When I first got into the world of flowers, I was surprised to see how much it is influenced by trends.

 

2018 was the year of the anthurium – a flower that has always been one of my favorites. It is not the most lovable flower out-there because of its waxy plastic-like nature, but it has been given a re-birth by floral stylists who are not so much concerned by beauty but instead by pushing the limits and ideals of good taste.

 

Tropical palms, exotic flowers were also all the rage this year, in contrast to the very romantic Dutch masters compositions of previous years. There was a big return to the decadent 80’s in floral trends in 2018. Similarly, in fashion, in the wake of the Time’s Up and the Me too movement, the most prominent trend of the fall 2018 was also 80’s inspired. So there’s always been an inextricable link between fashion, flowers, and society.

Do flowers and roses have significant powers or symbolic meanings like crystals and stones?

 

Some people think they do, I personally don’t. I use flowers based on what they look like. I don’t concern myself so much with their meanings, but rather by their connotation. Some flowers have an erotic connotation, others are more sensual, more graphic. I’m concerned by shape and color a lot more than by symbolism. But I do think that flowers have the power to make people happy, or intrigued, and those are really the only powers that matter to me.

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SYBIL LAYOUS

2018 FLORISH STUDIO© - FLORAL DESIGN STUDIO, BEIRUT