Today, I’m delighted to feature an interview with Australian based florist, Matthew Landers.
?Can you tell us about yourself and your floristry background?
I’m 29 and I’ve been working full-time in floristry since the day after I turned 15. I grew up in my mother’s florist business (Linda Landers). Playing with flowers from a young age, at 14 I knew that high school just wasn’t for me. So I started a weekend job at a florist outside the family business and started competing in regional competitions.
Finishing school at 15, I immediately started working full-time and several months later, began completing my formal qualifications. At 17, with several competitions under my belt, my mother helped me into my very first retail florist shop.
Where do you get inspiration for your floral design?
Modern art, homewares and interior design. My biggest thing is colour. I truly believe colour can make or break a design. You’ll often find me meandering in an art supplies store, aside from shedding tears for pantone shades of apricot and arguing the difference between white and pearl in my head, I find art stores have my eyes spinning with ideas. Looking at different mediums, textures, colours, how things look in different lighting. Interiors also play a big part in a conceptual stage.
For me, when I see a new style of furniture or a new homeware trend (whether it’s a metallic or fluoro), I start thinking about how my clients are going to be changing their house immediately and I’m going to be the first port of call to ensure it’s accessorised with the matching blooms.
How would you describe your style?
? A lot of appreciation for the materials. Attention-to-detail. Driven by colour. Ethereal and masculine. When I used to compete a lot, my style became really defined. I would travel interstate for national competitions and I would never pre-order flowers. I loved the challenge of arriving in a foreign city and working with what was available or what was put in front of me. This allowed me to appreciate the beauty of the materials, study their form, line, texture, colour and see what materials that I would perhaps not normally use could bring to a design. ???
What is your favourite flower?
This really depends which hat I’m wearing! I have three answers. As a luxury retailer and floral designer catering to large scale events – ‘Phalaenopsis Orchids’. They offer so much and can only look ‘expensive’ in a design. As an Educator – ‘Bouvardia’. Students always marvel at its unique and impressive prism form. How something so strong in microscopic form can be such a delicate flower. Personally – ‘Stephanotis’. I can never, ever get enough of it.
Could you tell us about your school and stores in Australia?
When I was 17, I bought my first business. That then evolved over the years into several retail stores. With the help of winning lots of competitions and getting constant media attention, this grew into a very successful overall business. In 2009 (aged 23), an opportunity was presented to me to live and work overseas. This was perfect timing as Linda (my mother aka business partner) wanted to retire and someone had offered to buy our business.
In 2012, back in Perth, I had itchy hands again and noticed there was a big gap in the market. Fortunate enough to have maintained my profile within the industry, it was a simple transition back into floristry. I decided to open a Matthew Landers store in Victoria Park (inner Perth, Western Australia) and run some little hobby classes on the side. Well, in 2014-15, the demand for classes got bigger and bigger and the school started to grow much quicker than I had anticipated. I decided to host an international guest and tour Australia and also host my own workshops outside of Perth. I also acquired a second location to cater for the evolving business.
In 2015, I knew it was time to expand again and in a big way. I opened a flagship store in Perth CBD, visually unparalleled to any other florist in Perth. I hosted Joseph Massie for an Australian Tour and again, conducted more workshops and demonstrations of my own outside of Perth. Then late last year, I moved the Academy into a new purpose-built premises almost 7 times the size of its original premises.
In conjunction with the expansion of the Matthew Landers Academy, I also launched the Australian School of Floristry. From what I originally imagined would be a few little classes here and there and a shop to keep me busy, has turned into a huge retail business. We are Western Australia’s largest floristry training provider, seeing over 300 students a year in a variety of Hobby, Industry, Advanced and Bespoke Courses. ??
What are your plans for this year?
I’m currently working on preparations for the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show competition next month. Then, straight onto my workshops with the UK School of Floristry (UKSoF) in the first week of April at New Covent Garden Flower Market in London. Following on from this will be a visit to the Europa Cup before rushing back to Australia to manage my stores into the busy Mother’s Day period. July will also see me back in the UK for some very exciting events, which I can’t reveal just yet.
Could you tell us a little more about your workshops with UKSoF at New Covent Garden Market?
On the first workshop day, we’re going to focus on incredible, detailed bridal designs – bridal bouquets, bridesmaids bouquets, floral accessories – the works – focusing on contemporary, commercial techniques, with an Australian edge. We’ll be looking at how tomake Australian native flowers and foliage ‘delicate, soft and feminine’ in a bridal design. Whilst the focus will be on commercial and couture bridal techniques, I will show how stunning bridal designs can also be accented with exotic, non-native blooms also.
Our second workshop, we’re going to work on something a little bigger – table centres, elevated and low, and how to think outside the box for event work, incorporating commercial structures and techniques. I’m really looking forward to showing the students how they can refine and adapt some basic techniques and create some truly unique designs with beautiful materials.
Who are the workshops suitable for?
I would suggest an intermediate level would be the minimum. Some of the techniques are quite basic, but some are somewhat more advanced and wouldn’t be suitable for a complete beginner. Of course, they would also be ideal for a florist who just needs a little ‘freshen up’ and to take some time away from the bench for some new ideas. The biggest thing I’ve learned from similar workshops I’ve participated in, is watching designers use material that they’re not used to working with. I’m used to these materials and have them growing in my garden. It’s like second nature.
How can students book onto your courses?
Bookings are available directly via the UK School of Floristry website. Simply click here. The two day course is £350.00 including all materials. Or both days can be booked singularly for £200.00 each if desired. Excitingly, they’re nearly full!
What advice would you give anyone looking to improve their flower arranging skills?
After you’ve booked into these classes, open another browser and start researching which classes you could do next. The more open you are to learning, the more you will learn and the more skilled you will become. You can’t just open social media, flick through other people’s photos and think ‘oh yeah, I can replicate that’. Being a designer isn’t about replicating, it’s about being inspired from others and conceptualising your own designs. In order to do this, you need to know how to put as many techniques into practice as possible. ?????
Thank you very much to Matthew for all his help in compiling today’s blog post. If you’d like to see more of his designs, do pop over to the Matthew Landers website. Social media wise, you can find Matthew on Facebook and Instagram.
Posted in partnership with Joseph Massie and The UK School of Floristry.
(Images: Matthew Landers)