At one time it was quite popular, yet it fell out of fashion in the wake of emancipation: the art of flower arranging. In New York and London the creative scene has discovered this craft for themselves and they’re almost gleefully breaking the rules of traditional florists.
In the Freunde von Freunden apartment Marsano, Berlin’s gorgeous flower and interior business and one of the pioneers of this approach in Germany, lead their first flower workshop, just in time for spring. Founders Andreas Namysl and Katrin Jahn along with their assistant Elena lead a small group of handpicked flower enthusiasts in the basics of tying a bunch – and what a wonderful bunch they were!
Anyone who wants to understand a culture should first look to the gardens. The finest specimens in antiquity flourished in arid regions – flower and plant diversity is a sign of wealth, but also decadence.
What works on a large scale can also be observed in micro. Balcony plants, bouquets and succulents beautify any home, regardless of the level of commitment or budget. Deciding factors are taste and skill. That’s why flower arrangements communicate something about the owner and their time.
“There are no ugly flowers, only ugly contexts,” says Andreas Namysl, co-founder of Marsano. In plain English: while in the past rows of small cacti peeking out from behind lace curtains were scorned as corny, today succulents and palm leaves have reached an almost iconographic status, in particular for fans of minimalism. Today you can find crop plants, wild flowers, berry and fruit plants in the range of open-minded florists.
The rigid rules of yore, where flowers were confined to specific occasions, declarations or seasons, are broken with floral arrangements of ivy, cornflowers, rosehips, peppers and pineapples. “Thick, fat, fully blooming parrot tulips combined with coral-hued peonies, dahlias, fragrant English garden roses and pink hydrangeas and germaniums too – that’s fantastic,” raved Marsano co-founder Annett Kuhlmann in a Freunde von Freunden interview about the boundaries broken by their craft.
A trend that doesn’t want to be a trend, spilling over from England and the US: The professional flourist’s creative awareness is changing. No longer seen as just a simple service, it’s been understood as artistic work for quite some time in other cities like London and New York. These protagonists ignore the rigid rules of their conservative colleagues and teachers with relish. For the last few years Marsano has attempted to pave the way for this imaginative, open and intoxicating flower trend.
What’s been taken for granted in other fields is slowly blazing a trail in flowers as well. The “don’t touch” and “no self service” signs have disappeared. Anyone really interested in flowers wants to enjoy and preserve their beauty – they don’t blindly pluck stems from their vases before placing them in a bouquet. As customers, we’ve long wanted to do more than just watch the florist as they stoically bind the bouquets of bright yellow hyacinths embellished with gypsophila and lace cuffs.
To take flowers into your own hands, placing them next to other flowers, to try out the effect, color, shape and form, to enjoy their texture and fragrance, to free them from leaves and thorns, to see how they fall when draped into a bouquet: All of this was, of course, a part of the flower workshop from Marsano which recently took place in the Freunde von Freunden Apartment.
Flowers and the art of arranging them or: the basics of bouquet binding, that was the call from the Marsano crew, that a handpicked number of Berliners couldn’t resist on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Once practiced by daughters of the so-called “high houses” it disappeared in the wake of emancipation, and was rediscovered again in a culture of knowledge transfer and do-it-yourself and justifiably started appreciating it again. Next to the women, men also took part, guided by Andreas Namysl who led the afternoon with his expert explanations and tips.
Although Marsano provided all 15 participants with the same flower selection, the resulting bouquets couldn’t have been more different. Architect Sigurd Larsen revealed his confident handling of forms: a heavy element in an arrangement receives a counterpart on the other side, so that the arrangement doesn’t tip – both visually and literally. His bouquet was one of the first to be completed. Alexa von Heyden’s flowers seemed as open and attentive as the author and jewelry designer herself, the rosy garlic and poppies in her display came across as almost cheeky. Fashion designer Hien Le worked calmly with his flowers, binding them much tighter than other participants – giving his flowers a reduced look, perhaps to correspond to his own fashion designs.
The reason the invited Berlin creatives could be good friends with the flowers on offer is due to Marsano’s playful relationship to design. Bouquet one consisted of garlic roses, poppies and tulips; bouquet two of birds of paradise, French tulips, cockscomb (baptized by the participants as brain flowers), branches (Monstera) and two palm leaves (Anturie). Colors, forms and materials carry the zeitgeist further: At the beginning of a season the team creates mood boards on which there are no flowers, rather motifs from fashion, art and design. With these images in mind they head to the flower market to buy the right pieces for the store. This includes seasonal and sustainable design.
Last but not least is the quiet happiness of creating something with your own hands and the overwhelming beauty of the flowers themselves, which contributed to the success of the seminar – before the end of the workshop a few images of the beautiful flower arrangements were already on Instagram. Anyone who wants to understand a culture must also look to their gardens, vases – and social media.
Thanks to Andreas Namysl, Katrin Jahn and their assistant Elena from Marsano for the expert advice and encouragement to follow the newly learned rules loosely and for the the beautiful flowers, too. And many thanks to Rauch for the delicious fruit juice during the seminar.
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