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Big events - a source of inspiration

emc designer floral design floral education Aug 30, 2022

Learning on a different scale

Floral project designed by Tomas De Bruyne for PWC Belgium

This short clip was taken during the execution of a floral installation designed by Tomas De Bruyne. The client was PWC Belgium on the occasion of the inauguration of their new headquarter building, a spectacular concept of non-offices office building. 

Initially I wanted to delete the clip from the phone as it didn’t focus right. 

However, seeing it again I suddenly remembered my first day on Foundation Class in EMC and what Tomas said to us: “floral design is not about flowers”. The accidental blur presented the opportunity to visually argue the truth of those words. Flower design is not about the flowers, but about what flowers can do for you.

Flowers are the medium we work with, yet the purpose of our job as floral designers is not to focus on the flower itself. We use flowers as a mean of communication, we use them for their ability to convey emotions, we use them to funnel the message of the client and to create an experience. Floral design is not about the one flower, it’s an about the overall outcome we have to deliver. And still, every detail matters. Every details is part of the whole, it contributes to the end result and influences the way your work of art is perceived. That is why every detail, from choice of botanical to implementation of each technique, every mechanic we use and every product we purchase greatly influences the end result. The added value of your work in this metier is not lying in reselling the one flower in it self, it is relaying in your ability to explore and ‘exploit’ the full potential of the flower, in the best way possible. That is what really adds value to your work and, ultimately, on the way you are being rewarded for your work. The clients should approach you for what you bring to the table with your creativity, not for the sole purpose of purchasing a floral product. 

I am lucky enough to be part of an amazing educational team at EMC and along side that, every now and then I get the opportunity to join Tomas De Bruyne on one of his large scale design events. The first time That happened I was definitely overwhelmed by size! The immensity of the entire project was just bigger than anything I have ever seen and I was wondering: how can one mind comprehend everything that is happening? How can one person keep track of the whole project and pay attention to every detail at the same time?
It was through those projects that I have truly started to understand all of the things I have been taught during the EMC classes, when I was a student. The EMC learning experience is as great as you decide to make it, as it is really written with focus on the student, not on the flowers. I realised that when Tomas says in class “floral design is not about the flowers” he speaks from the actual experience of working with clients and real projects. Surely, flowers are our medium, but our medium only serves us if we have the ability to explore its potential to the maximum. 
It is through these large scale projects that I join that I saw how much one decision can affect the overall project, how sometimes the flowers get chosen with colour in mind, and they have to serve a size and colour story, therefore their texture is less important. Or other times, the focus has to go to lines and then our approach as a designer should be towards the stems, the non-floral part of botanicals. Little details like that are the ones that make the difference, it is through those decisions that one manages to grow the impact of the flowers. That is how clients understand that you really have their story in mind and that you don’t just sell some flowers put together. That is how design works.

Surely, in large scale designs effects are instantly seen. When a small mistake is repeated to achieve a big size installation, the mistake itself becomes as big as the work. If you create a small piece, like a table arrangement or a bouquet your mind might say, oh… I’ll fix that later. But when the project is big, really big, then you surely cannot work with that mentality. There won’t be time to fix anything later, not to mention that the mistake will be so visible, it will take a huge amount of work to fix it. 

I believe many florists who work everyday in their small or bigger shop, who do regular size events from their atelier or just deliver floral services in their nearby community may think they don’t really need to work in educating their mind to think different. Because on a daily basis, when working small pieces with flowers, fixing something last minute is always an option. It’s always ok… for the moment. But I would challenge those people to consider their work and their business as the equivalent of a large scale event. It’s the same thing, the only difference being that the big events happen in a very condensed timeframe, while your business enfolds over years, sometimes decades. A mistake you make for every piece you design only gets multiplied in years. 

The cost of trial and error is always underrated by florists, as often times you don't perceive it on a daily basis. It's too small most of the times and you feel you can ignore it, right? However, the size of that cost increases gradually as time goes by. Avoiding that cost is possible by investing in yourself and your education. As the money one spends in education is surely an investment seeing that you pay once and you will benefit out of it for your entire life. Education has changed my perception over things and I have had the opportunity a few times already to experience live how knowing what you do and understanding floral design is important and how that translates into designs on a big scale, while working with the EMC lead instructor, Tomas De Bruyne, on his designer business projects. It's so amazing to see how everything shifts and changes around you as the design implementation is enfolding, yet if you know the outcome you are working towards, you are able to quickly make the decisions that keep you on the right track to that outcome. 

In a large scale design everything matters, yet everything is guided by one outcome which is focusing on creating and experience, on showcasing that flowers are indeed ... emotions. Floral design is not really about the flowers in themselves. It's so much more than that, it's about designing with emotions and communicating them through flowers. That is where the beauty truly lies and it's also the one factor that adds most value to your services. That defines your signature style and it will shape your future client base as well. That way of working with flowers, by designing concepts, is how you set yourself apart, on your own unique individual way. 

by Diana Toma, EMC

all images were taken during the Tomas De Bruyne installation at PWC Belgium new headquarter inauguration

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