Today I’m delighted to feature an interview with Amber Redman of Amber Persia | Flowers & Events as part of my Florist Friday blog post series.
Could you tell us what prompted you to become a florist?
I’m definitely a creative person. I think the flip side of being dyslexic is the ability to see things in an innovative and imaginative way. So I was always going to work within the worlds of art or design. I love working with colours and textures, no matter what the medium. But I guess what really made me choose floristry was that no two days are ever the same in this industry. I also absolutely love the whole design process, taking something from concept all the way through to installation.
Could you tell us how your floristry career has progressed?
For six years, whilst at school and college, I spent my holidays and some weekends working for a renowned wedding florist. As well as gaining invaluable experience and a real insight into the wedding flowers industry, it also reinforced my belief that in due course I wanted my own company, allowing me the freedom to design and work in my own way.
Whilst studying for my degree in Textiles, I took my first tentative steps on my own, providing house flowers for a number of clients and my first wedding for the friend of a friend. However, never one to be fazed easily, that wedding included an extravagant floral arch, porcelain jugs (commissioned especially for the event) brimming with English scented garden roses, a tree-lined avenue of silver birch trees leading guests from dinner to dancing, and huge hanging floral globes over the dance floor. I haven’t looked back since, and I guess that was the beginning of Amber Persia | Flowers & Events.
When did you start your business and where are you based?
I launched Amber Persia | Flowers & Events in the winter of 2013. Our studio and cutting gardens are based on the Somerset Levels, although we’re delighted to travel the length and breadth of the country, and indeed beyond, for weddings, parties and events.
What kind of floristry services do you offer there?
Whether an event is small and intimate or grand and lavish, we offer bespoke wedding and event floristry and styling, with an emphasis on personal service and meticulous attention to detail. We’re happy to do as little or as much as a client wishes, from simply bridal flowers (a beautiful bouquet and a handful of buttonholes), to the entire look from table linen through to focal displays.
Following an initial enquiry, we create floral mood boards to give an insight into which flowers should be available in a chosen colour palette at a particular time of year. To help illustrate my design ideas, I often include pen and ink line drawings or watercolour sketches. I find a sketch generally makes designs so much easier to envisage than a description. Then, as the design process continues, we collate colour swatches, ribbon samples, etc. to keep the clients fully involved in the design process and abreast of plans. Another service we offer our couples is to hand dye bespoke ribbons and table linens in-house (one of the advantages of having a background in textiles) and these finishing details can make such a difference to the final look of the day.
We also have an extensive and ever-growing collection of props, amongst them original Art Deco cocktail trolleys and huge antique French mirrors, cut glass hurricane lamps, elaborate candelabras and miniature hand-blown stem vases (and much else besides), all of which are available for our clients to use. If we don’t have what’s required, then we’ll go out and source it, whether that’s from the UK, Europe or further afield. We also enjoy working with artisan British craftsmen and makers, and in the past we’ve collaborated with ceramicists, candle makers and blacksmiths to create one-off pieces for specific events.
Where do you get inspiration for your floral designs?
Firstly, I’d say that my inspiration comes from my clients; unravelling their stories, loves and dreams to come up with designs which are original and personal, and which reflect them as a couple.
On a personal note, I take inspiration from an eclectic collection of sources! I’m really lucky to live and work on the beautiful Somerset Levels, so the natural world around me is a constant source of ideas (and the hedgerows a fabulous place for foraging!). However, I also love nothing more than a day in a city, be that London, Bath, Paris or Venice, moseying around galleries, museums and interesting shops surrounded by beautiful architecture, art and design. I always come back inspired, fired up with ideas and ready for the next project.
How would you describe your style?
I would say that my natural style is relaxed glamour; garden-inspired, feminine and romantic. I love layers of textures, not just flowers but also branches, berries, fruits, and foliage, all paired with elegant props; cut glass, masses of candles, beautiful linens. Design wise I enjoy contrasting rustic with formal, sophisticated with laid-back, antique with contemporary. Having said that, as a floral designer, I love interpreting my clients’ briefs, staying true to their vision whilst translating their ideas and style to create something unique to them.
With regards to colour, I guess if left to my own devices I’m definitely drawn to white. Lily of the valley, clematis, ‘Spring Green’ tulips, foxgloves, all in pristine shades of white, are some of my favourite blooms. And yet, one of my favourite weddings from last year was a riot of colour – apricot ‘Coral Charm’ peonies contrasted against rich purple clematis. I absolutely loved the combination!
What are your plans for 2015?
Where to start? We already have a raft of interesting projects in the pipeline and it’s really important to us that we continue to build on our reputation for personal service, innovative design and attention to detail. We’ll also definitely be expanding our props collection. Beautiful and unusual containers, candleholders and linens add interest above and beyond the flowers; they’re the finishing touch which elevates the entire design of an event.
There are lots of purchases on my ‘wishy-wanty’ list for the spring. So I’ll have the perfect excuse to visit shows such as Maison & Objet in Paris, trawl around antique shops and auction houses, visit my favourite concept stores (particularly Merci, Fleux and Astier de Villatte), and keep an eye out on Ebay!
We also plan to launch a hand-dyed ribbon collection. As I mentioned, this is something we’ve been offering our clients, and in the spring we will be launching an online, limited edition collection available directly to brides and designers.
What is your favourite flower?
Am I allowed four, one for each season? If so, in spring it would have to be lilac with its wonderful, evocative scent. I think scent is such an underrated sense and yet it can transport you back to a place and time. That’s why I always try to introduce scent in our arrangements, not only with fragrant flowers but also with an abundance of herbs. Rosemary, mint, sage, fennel, and purple ruffled basil are some of my favourites, and we grow all of them in our cutting gardens. During the summer, it would be a close run thing between scented garden roses and flamboyant peonies. In autumn, it would be ‘Cafe au Lait’ dahlias; our gardens are full of these from July until the first frost and I love their subtle variations in colour ranging from rich cream through palest cappuccino to soft apricot. No two are ever the same! Finally, during the winter months I adore the classic, understated elegance of hellebores with their wonderfully muted shades.
I know you asked about my favourite flower but some of my favourite elements of our designs are not flowers at all. We have a wonderful local fruit farm and their boughs of cherries are sublime in relaxed arrangements, whilst last year we grew wild strawberry plants. Their delicate fruit are perfect tumbling from summer table arrangements or beautiful antique urns.
Thank you so much to Amber for all her help in compiling today’s blog post. I adore her floral designs and you can see more of them on her stunning website! Social media wise, you can find her on Instagram and Pinterest.