When design becomes floral

Interview with Maya De Roo, floral designer

A coloured revolution that transforms the rooms and atmosphere of our daily lives. The ancient tradition of decorating with flowers is now recognised as an art in its own right, with its own rules and style features - this is floral design. Flower arrangements become artistic creations ideal for major events and for more intimate settings, such as the home.

When it comes to kitchens and cooking, floral scenography always creates a special frame through the elegance and harmony of nature, regardless of what is used - edible flowers, arrangements inspired by gastronomy recipes or fruit and vegetables that become decorative elements. This is how it is explained to us by Maya De Roo, a Dutch floral designer of Indonesian origin, who has chosen Rome to be her home. “In terms of cuisine, edible flowers are used in recipes more and more frequently. Decorations for tables, for cakes and centrepieces  are part of the culinary stage. They are created in line with the menus recipes and are related to the style and colours of the mise en place. There are many floral arrangements inspired by dishes and recipes.

The winning card for an attractive cuisine flower arrangement is the sintony among the elements that make up the whole, such as the menu and the decorations. “I study the menu and use the same ingredients of the dishes to make a centrepiece. Many edible ingredients are used, especially fruit and vegetables,” explains Ms De Roo. The combinations of flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables are truly unlimited and the results are always surprising. “I once made a centrepiece using  tomatoes, artichokes and lettuce combined with Bordeaux peonies, yellow David Austin roses (English garden roses) and various small plants. I matched lemons and aubergines with a variety of orchids to make bright and festive arrangements that were elegant at the same time.On other occasions I rely on what I perceive - if the menu is delicate, spicy, exotic or traditional, I create a centrepiece in the same style. For a  menu with Mediterranean dishes I made a centrepiece with oregano, basil and tomatoes. Of course I never neglect the chromatic element - an Italianarrangement with tomato and basil is combined with flowers that are red, green and white, the colours of the Italian flag.

Kitchens are also rooms that like no other are suitable to be decorated with flowers. “Flowers are more and more often bought for the home and not just as gifts or decorations for events. So it is increasingly frequent to decorate a kitchen with a classic bunch of flowers. In particular I always like to prepare flower bouquets for kitchens to which I add chilli peppers, sage, parsley flowers, fruit and vegetables. Roses covered with chocolate and sugared almonds are now commercially available and I think they are pretty and perfect for sweeter settings... I always say that anything is possible!”  

Demonstrations of floral art, arrangements for showrooms and events, creations for books and magazines, providing consultancy to florists and making “simple” floral gifts -this is the truly multi-faceted profession of floral designers. They create a dialogue between flowers, rooms and furniture, always in search of new techniques and materials. “This professional figure must have a truly extensive knowledge of all plant materials and of all floristry techniques and theories, in addition to being well acquainted with theory and techniques of architecture, fashion and fine arts. A floral designer creates arrangements or scenography with plant materials, but also teaches florists and creates new trends in style and technique.” 

The demand for this kind of professional figure is rising internationally and the daily challenge is to create something new in a world that is already almost saturated, as Ms De Roo explains to us. She took her first steps in the world of floral design almost 20 years ago, working in a plant nursery in Holland while she was a university student.  

Mine has been a long road. Almost 20 years ago l found my first job in Holland, where I encountered plants and cut flowers for the first time. I really liked it and while I was in Holland I worked in many flower shops, where I learnt floristry techniques. My university studies took me to Rome next and here, once again, I worked for a florist where I discovered my talent for floral art. I then decided it to make it my main profession. When I left university, just before writing my thesis in science of arts and culture, I attended specialisation courses in floral design in Paris and Basel. I then set up my own business and started working as a floral designer, giving floral art demonstrations and creating floral arrangements in various parts of Italy, Portugal and Kuwait.” 


When in Rome do as the Romans do - this applies to floral design as well. But Ms De Roobelieves that the secret of floral art lies in personalising, in creating a tailored solution to every setting or event. There is only one exception - the pompous world of weddings.“Every country and culture has its own trends but I prefer to concentrate on my personal developments. I remain convinced that not all trends are suitable for all situations, just as fashion does not suit everybody equally well. In general terms the exception is the world of weddings, where the most popular style is the American style, hundreds of flowers in huge arrangements with a basic technique. The more the betteris the slogan.”  

Deciding to prefer a personal style in one’s own floral arrangements does not mean not keeping an eye on the trends proposed worldwide. Maya has revealed what lies in store for us in the near future.“The trend for Christmas 2016 is the colour copper and a linear style, clean and simple. With paper, a material that is being used more and more in floral art. Without forgetting that cinnamon and orange are frequently used to prepare dishes and therefore Christmas decorations as well. A winter or Christmas arrangement of this sort looks very good with roses or with Cosmos Black Beauty that smells of chocolate. Even if winter flowers are mainly Buttercups, Tulips and Amaryllis, all available in one colour. This one colour must of course be either orange or brown, the perfect match for orange and cinnamon.


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