Artist Interview: Design by Nature

As you may know, our workshop is based in Florentia Clothing Village in North London, a lovely district of studios full of independent brands and artists, including the wonderful Design by Nature.

Working with both individual clients and brands, founder and designer Emily creates both fresh and dried flower bouquets for events - everything from weddings to showrooms and photoshoots, as well as offering a home delivery service.

Here we’ve spoken to Emily about the impact of the pandemic on their small business, their artistic background and tips on where to find inspiration.

Read the interview below.

Where do you find inspiration for your bouquets and what are your favourite ways to hone your creativity?

Inspiration for my bouquets tends to start with a colour reference I’ve found or seen. This can be from a painting I love or an outfit I’ve seen someone wearing. I love to colour block with my bouquets creating interesting combinations, it allows me to explore usual flowers. The best way to hone my creativity is when I have a clear run of a few days in my studio, I work by creating the bouquets and then photographing them, I always believe any sculpture of artwork looks different once its been photographed, you can study the image and the form of the flowers in a different way, so I make adjustments to the design from this until I’m happy.

Flower arrangements by Design by Nature.

You studied Fine Art Painting & Sculpture, how does that feed into your floral arrangements?

Studying at art school influences my work in so many ways, it allows me to think outside the box of what flowers and floristry can be. After graduating from university I worked in some of the most creative art studios in London. Days were spent with lots of organising but also discussing art, the process of creation and building form within the objects and this has undoubtedly fed into my own work. I see each bouquet or arrangement as a mini sculpture thinking about the negative space as much as the flowers themselves.

Have you got a favourite or most memorable project you have worked on?

I’m really excited about some of my more recent flower artworks I’ve been creating, its the first time I’ve really been able to indulge in my art practice of botanical elements rather than it being entirely commercial clients. Its a slower way of working allowing me time to enjoy the process of making. If I was going to pick one project it would be a wedding (or now 2 weddings) at St John’s Bread and Wine restaurant in Clerkenwell. The brief was to create weddings flowers that were nothing like wedding flowers and this excited me. The result was a very simple but effective design of hanging dried flower clouds. I’ve now recreated the same wedding in the same venue in a white and I love it just as much.

Flower arrangements by Design by Nature.

The pandemic has affected us all in so many ways. Did it impact your business, and if so, how? Have you learnt anything valuable during this time?

The pandemic changed everything for me. In March 2020 I was working entirely in wedding and event floristry and when the pandemic came my entire calendar emptied, it was really scary. For those first few months I felt completely lost as to what to do. When I felt ready I would go to my studio and just start making little floral sculptures with the dried flowers I had or I would forage flowers. I then started to photograph what I created, I brought a new camera and that new creative element just kept me going.

In the early stages of the pandemic fresh flowers were harder to source and I had literally no money after paying rent and bills. This time was definitely the start of working more with dried flowers in a whole new way. Dried flowers meant I could hold stock and I could take my time over my creations. I also loved documenting the decay of fresh flowers, the beauty of them as they dried and this really fascinated me. The camera created interesting images. Flowers are only seen as “beautiful" when they are perfectly open, perfectly straight and perfectly placed and that's just not true. Flowers or any botanical have much longer life than this and I believe this should be celebrated.

What I’ve learnt from the pandemic is to focus more on your genuine passions. Chasing jobs you think you should have because it's a big name or brand doesn’t mean success. Success comes from a love of what you do, a work life balance and success like this shows in the work you produce.

What do you like most about working with dried flowers?

What I love most about dried flowers is all the oddities and strange shapes they create. It means I can offer the customers something totally unique and something that will work in their space or home. I dry a mixture of my own flowers mainly through experimentation and these are definitely my favourite arrangements. I also love surprising people with what dried flowers can do, removing the stereotypes of what people think they are.

Flower arrangements by Design by Nature.

Do you have any tips for drying flowers at home?

Best tips for flower drying is to hang the flowers upside down in a space that has slight breeze, not in direct sunlight and where there is no water or humidity i.e a bathroom.

Dried flowers need to be cool with dry air to work.

Have you got any exciting projects coming up that you’d like to share with us?

I do actually, this is something I’m really excited about. I have a very small exhibition of my new sculptural dried flower pieces being shown at the Glasshouse salon on Mare Street in London. The large installation I’ll place will be made entirely from reused flowers from my fresh flower wedding work over this summer, its way for me to think about how I reuse flowers as they can be very transient, take up a large carbon footprint and this way I’m offering the flowers a longer life and creating a more sustainable and longer life span. The residency with the Glasshouse Salon will run for the month of Sept 2021. There will be bouquets for sale, ceramic vases with dried flowers and sculptural pieces.

Flower arrangements by Design by Nature.

See more of Emily's work over on the Design by Nature Instagram and shop products or enquire about events over on the website.