I’m delighted to feature an interview with the very talented florist, Robbie Honey, together with images of his stunning arrangements.
Could you tell us what prompted you to become a florist and when did you start your business?
Growing up in Africa, ‘florist’ was not on the tick list for boys of what you could be when you grew up. However, I have always loved flowers and as soon as I could walk, I requested a wheel barrow, some gardening tools and a flower bed of my own…
I left school at sixteen to study horticulture with the intent of becoming a flower farmer in my native Zimbabwe.
However, after gaining experience growing flowers on farms in Holland and Kenya, I decided that farming flowers was as about as interesting to me as farming cows!
After that I worked as a landscaper for a year and then went on to study interior design, followed by a year at art school studying photography in Cape Town.
At 23, I left South Africa and set off for the ‘bright lights and big city’ of London knowing that somehow I wanted to work in in the glamorous world of parties.
It was not my intent to end up working with flowers, however, a friend of a friend had a large event floristry company, an introduction was made and I was employed as a ‘junior’.
This apprenticeship served me well. I couldn’t believe that I was being paid to arrange flowers! I remain deeply grateful to Ming Veevers Carter, who threw me right into the deep end and had me arranging flowers for a shop on Bond Street on my first day.
After a year’s training at Veevers Carter, I started working as a freelance florist and a couple of years later set up my own eponymous company with Lulu Goodman. That was ten years ago.
Could you tell us about some of your recent commissions?
We created a flower installation down the centre of the catwalk for the show held in the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo. To complete the installation ready for the show, we worked through the night and used 12,000 carnations.
It was worth every minute of lost sleep! It looked incredible and it perfectly reflected the prints of Mary’s collection and I felt so proud of my team.
I’m working on a design using hundreds of preserved water lilies inspired by ‘Nymphéas’, the series of water lily paintings by Claude Monet which I’ve always loved.
How would you describe your style?
I always claim to be a bit of a style chameleon! One has to be able to fulfil the creative briefs submitted by clients, be they ‘bonkers bacchanalian’ or ‘minimal Hempel-esque chic’.
However, my personal design style is chic, simple, often mono floral and monochromatic. At the same time, I’m equally comfortable with a more eclectic approach to arranging flowers using collections of different containers and different flowers too…..
There we go…I’m hard to pin down stylistically and it has been said, more than once, that I’m consistently inconsistent! So let’s stick with me being a style chameleon.
What I most like however is getting the brief right whatever the style and this takes an eye for colour and design which I think is one of my strengths.
What is your favourite flower?
As a florist, this is the question I get asked most often and I generally bat it away with a ‘depends on what month it is!’ (I feel that this question is often asked out of politeness rather than out of genuine interest!)
However, as this is a flower blog and Flowerona’s at that, I will answer the question sincerely.
Of all the flowers I love most in the world it has to be wisteria. It’s not commercially available as a cut flower I know, and it doesn’t last in water but I utterly adore its gorgeous hanging racemes of flowers and I’m mad about its scent.
In the spring I go on ‘Wisteria Safaris’ around London. Edwardes Square is particularly good!
What are your plans for 2012?
At the end of 2011 I made some major changes to my business. I closed the Robbie Honey Studio and Shop to focus on other creative avenues.
In 2012, I plan to work as a consultant, to teach and lecture. I also plan to start working on my first book. Currently, I’m in Zimbabwe taking a sabbatical.
Many thanks to Robbie for all his help in compiling today’s blog post.
(Images : Robbie Honey)