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Meet the EMC Team

Nov 20, 2021

Francisca Pérez EMC

A conversation with an EMC Teacher, by Sara Marie Andrews

This lovely, bubbly, enthusiastic and yet very down-to-earth floral designer who lives and works in Chile is Francisca Perez, our very own EMC Teacher. She continues to stretch and challenge herself to further develop her conscious creativity, always wanting to gain more knowledge and insight, whilst encouraging others to follow in her wake. The distance that she has had to journey to gain the knowledge that she wanted so strongly is made even more remarkable when you learn that she is very allergic to pollen and lactose intolerant but cannot live without flowers or chocolate!

Francisca came across flowers by chance over fifteen years ago, and from that moment on it became a passion for this charming Chilean mother, who leads a very busy life balancing her work as a wedding and events designer and a teacher for EMC, whilst bringing up three small children; all of which has been made more complicated by the effects of the pandemic on all areas of her life. She comes from a family of teachers, so it has been a natural progression in recent years to want to transmit to others and instil into them, her enthusiasm for the wonderful word of florals. Having developed her own conscious creativity through experiencing the challenges, encouragement and inspiration from those involved in the EMC family, and finding her own signature style, it has been a natural progression for her to want to pass this on to others, especially in her own country and around her in other countries of South and Latin America, where it is difficult for florists and designers to tap into high level training and knowledge of the international world of floral designing.

Living in the centre of Santiago, the capital city of Chile, she has always been a creative and busy person, with an artistic ability that expressed itself in multiple ways. When she left school, her intention was to study theatre, but as she was very young. Having had excellent academic results, she started studying law at the best University in Chile, as it was what was expected of her. She feels that it was the world of floral design that ‘saved’ her, allowing her to rediscover her passion and creativity, immersed in the amazing beauty and perfection that only flowers have.

She says that In Chile not only do they ‘seem’ to be at the end of the world, but indeed they are! Seeking to gain a wider knowledge of designing with flowers which she could not find in her own country, she was forced to travel so that she could learn more about floral design from designers such as Gregor Lersch and, ultimately, EMC; completing her Foundation Course in Mexico, followed by the Self Practicum online and finally graduating in Brugge, Belgium in 2018.  She rightly vindicates her decision in that it was inconvenient at first, as it meant a strain financially and on her family, but it allowed her to train with some of the best floral designers in the world and to discover her conscious creativity.

I did ask Francisca how she had felt about the Foundation course being conducted in English. She realized that there had to be an international language for all the students, and it had been very hard at times, but it had made her even more determined to work hard, to check her understanding and strengthened her resolve to complete the course. Although I found her knowledge of the English language to be excellent, she feels that her experience has enabled her to understand what other students, for whom English is a second language, may find challenging within the course and can help them to overcome any difficulties they may have. An interesting comment that she made was about the determination shown by some to overcome an initial difficulty with the language so that they can gain as much knowledge and expertise through the EMC experience, to become fabulous designers, and, I am certain, this summed up her attitude and ability as she progressed through the system too.

Knowing that students must source botanical materials for the self-practicum section of the course, I asked Fran about the availability of flowers and foliages for floral designers in Chile, something that I admit I had not considered before.  Knowing that there is now a very successful floriculture industry in Colombia and Ecuador, I wrongly surmised that Chilean florists and designers would have this available to them.  The range and quality of flower available is limited, which means that the designers must be very flexible in the way they use what is available to them. This revelation led to a discussion on ‘foraging’, which is something that many of us do and benefit from the results of our efforts.  Unfortunately, this is something that is not possible in Santiago but Francisca goes on holiday with the family once or twice a year and relishes the possibilities for collecting shells from the long shoreline, wood, and other much treasured items, which she takes back to her home in the city as welcome additions to her designs.

Her trip to Brugge for the Advanced course was a great experience and she has made lasting friendships with fellow students. She cannot speak highly enough about the way she was encouraged to experiment and challenge herself, not being forced into a set pathway but to follow her own instincts and creative path; something that continues to this day.

A great believer in the power of online education, Fran says that the pandemic has changed so much of what we all considered to be normal, and we must learn to be more flexible in our attitudes to the way we work. She has been teaching and demonstrating online during lockdown and feels that it is very successful, especially in the current restrictions, when she has wanted to maintain her connections with the students she values so much.  She also commented on how the trade for floral designs had grown during lock-down in Chile, with clients wanting to cheer themselves up and tell others that they care about them during the difficult times, something that seems to have occurred right across the international floral world and which has helped greatly to compensate with the downturn in the wedding and event business. 

I have learnt that her favorite flower is the Helleborus, in all its colors and varieties. She is convinced that they are the flowers that ‘dance’ most of all, a comment which refers to the words used by Gregor Lersch when he told her that her designs always had flowers dancing in them.  This, she feels, is now her signature style and is very happy to be known for her light, transparent touch.

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