Valentine’s Day – Courting a romance

Centuries ago lovers wooed their sweet hearts by writing messages on tree trunks. We don’t suggest that you vandalise trees in this way but do recommend our collection of flowers, candles, cards and bark hearts to set the scene on Valentine’s day or any romantic occasion.

Whether you have a young or established romance your beloved will surely appreciate the most simple of gestures such as cooking their favourite food, setting the table with lighted candles and placing petals or flowers as a centre piece.

Sending Flowers to a loved one doesn’t have to be restricted to standard red roses, commonly associated with love and romance. We love to be creative with colours, textures and styles. Purple’s and pinks can be equally romantic; where as cream’s and white’s suggest love with purity and preciousness.

An illustrated card with a meaningful message can also demonstrate the depth of our love to that special person in our life. We have designed a beautiful collection of floral and heart themed cards for this purpose; with blank pages inside for writing that romantic poem or prose.

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The art of floral decoration

Floral decoration can enhance or overwhelm the ambience of one’s surroundings. For example, we were briefed to decorate a dinner party setting where the host requested just a few secondary colours, toned with white to avoid clashing with the bold patterns that decorated the dining room.

Purple and white sweet peas were used to decorate the dinner tables, low level of course for social ease.

The corner tables had taller arrangements of agapanthus, mixed with hydrangeas and sweet peas, to accentuate the full height of the room.

The decorative mantlepiece was brought further to life by a pretty pink, purple and white arrangement of sweet peas, stretching the length of the mantle and cascading down towards the marble fire-place.

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The joy of colour

Today all of our Christmas displays were taken down and in place of the bright reds, the contrasting greens and whites we wanted something cheerful to fill the void of colour.

Winter doesn’t have to be dull when there are so many other colours available from pinks, to purples and various shades of cream and white.

And so on this blustery and damp afternoon in late December we created some colourful displays that remind us that the warmer months of Spring are just around the corner.

Judging by the smiles on the faces of customers and passers-by we feel that this vibrant floral collection has cheered and inspired them too.

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Christmas Pop Up Shop at Craft Central – hosted by Creative Clerkenwell

Preview night, Tuesday 11th December 2012

This evening Creative Clerkewell gathered together a diverse group of designers to launch the 2012 Christmas pop-up shop at Craft Central, St John’s Square. We demonstrated how to create a door wreath, using natural Norman stems with berries and pine-cones to decorate. The audience were very appreciative and asked a range of questions about the creative process and the technical skills required to make this traditional decoration.  

Jo Davies, who makes the most elegant ceramic vases allowed us to display our flowers in in her new collection. We also loved the ceramics crafted by Ikuko Iwamoto, and the funky floral designs for fabrics and china by Kate Clarke.

Jewellery by Amanda Li Hope attracted a lot of attention, her Fair Trade collection is both unique and stylish; and we loved Laura’s Loom Howgill range of gorgeously soft and luxurious woollen garments direct from the mills of Cumbria.

A big thanks to Charlene of Creative Clerkenwell for making this all possible. Your industrious planning and presentation really paid off.

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Christmas Decorations for 2012/13

The Flor Unikon collection of Christmas Decorations

The materials

Working with natural materials makes up the fabric of our design work. For this season we gathered a variety of twisted bark and twigs to decorate the windows and ceiling of our workshop. All provided a magical backdrop for our handcrafted decorations such as stars made from silver birch bark and curtain like panels for our windows.

The Star of Bethlehem seemed to be an appropriate flower to decorate our windows. It has a long stem and star-like flower – making it feel very majestic and delicate at the same time.

Christmas table decorations

We create the majority of our decorations from a variety of Christmas tree species, selecting the finest branches that are both durable and lush, to ensure the longevity of each creation.

The voluminous blooms of the Amarylis flower and the curly stems of willow are ideal for decorating grand displays.

Advent Decorations

Our Advent decorations are usually a sell out and so to keep up with demand we have now started production of our new collection.

Christmas crafts at Flor Unikon

The variety and volume of work we produce in our workshop in Clerkenwell is truly amazing. At this time of year our work bench contains an array of materials used for decorating, anything from nobilis branches to nuts and berries. And all to produce something beautiful such as our famous nobilis wreath, candle arrangements, and hand-crafted Christmas trees.

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The Affordable Art Fair, Autumn Season – The build and opening

The Build

Take one marquee to an open piece of land, in this case Battersea Park and Hampstead Heath, lay carpets and electric cables, plumb in water and toilets, and create long corridors of gallery space. This is the recipe for creating the art space, the Affordable Art Fair that we have come to love. And of course it takes a lot of people to get this project off the ground, some are keen volunteers, others are sponsors and the rest are part of Will’s Art Warehouse team, the founders of the Art Fair.

Many of our external creations transferred to Hampstead directly from Battersea. The careful storage and handling of each creation meant there very few minor repairs and adjustments. The feedback from the visitors has been tremendous; they particularly love the glamorous magical bed and the wacky spotty chair.

Floral and Plant Decoration

For Hampstead we decorated the ticket office to great effect with flowing and curly stems to create an interesting and inspirational set of artistic arrangements.

For the wine bar we created decorations that were elegant but natural to represent the sophisticated but very organic Laithwaites brand.

The Opening

Will of Wills Art Warehouse shared the opening of the Hampstead Fair with two celebrities, Journalist/TV presenter Melvyn Bragg and impressionist John Culshaw. The latter was highly entertaining, cleverly mimicking the posh tones of Boris Johnson, who in character announced the opening of the second Hampstead Affordable Art Fair.

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The Artists at the Affordable Art Fair – Hampstead, November 2012

Autumn Fair at Hampstead

This is the second fair at Hampstead and it is proving to be as equally as popular as its sister fair in Battersea. It was great to re-discover artists from last year’s show and meet a few new people too.

The Works

David Gista’s, ‘Pipe Hats’ appears to be a representation of Victorian men, some taking isolatory refuge in the mists and others casting momentary glances at each other, passing time. We were pleased to re-discover the work of Sophia Derrick and interestingly the painting that struck us most was ‘Re-found’.

It was also a pleasure to meet up with artist Martin Langford again. Represented by the Kaleidoscope gallery he is exhibiting some new and familiar works. The ‘Frown’ is particularly striking for its monochrome and comic strip appeal.

The dreams of Abigail Whittacker feature quite heavily in her art work. Most certainly her ‘You are not only something that is mine, you are me, myself’ feels very Jungian in its dreamlike/nightmare state. Also intriguing is the sculpture ‘Grounded’ by Patrick Haines. Traditionally the ‘Dragonfly’ has taken on the meaning of a deeper discovery about life. Does this fairy-like creature resting on the bible represent the spiritual discovery/development of mankind??

The entertainment

The Halloween season is of course upon us and this was reflected in the entertainment on preview evening.  Zombies, Mythological Greek figures and a large than life (on stilts) Miss Haversham, wandered the gallery corridors, shocking and amusing us in equal measure.

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The Artists at the Affordable Art Fair – Battersea, October 2012

Autumn Fair at Battersea

As usual there was a fantastic collection of works, some from artists we have come across from previous art fairs, and others completely new to the scene and to us also. Here is a selection of artists and their work that touched us and in most cases inspired us.

The works

The people featured in these two paintings by Tristan Reid ‘Butterfly III’ and Carl Melegari, ‘Varinius’ appear to be in a deep reflection. For us they evoke a strong sense of isolation in each character that is enhanced by the choice of stark colours.

In contrast the works by Claudio Castelo, ‘Ladies and Gentleman’ and Ray Caesar, ‘Night Call Study’ appear to be frivolous and sexy – the former seems to illustrate a undercurrent of resentment and malice amongst polite society; where as the latter, a sex siren, appears to be charged with attitude and not afraid to express who she is.  We also adored the comical tryptic, ‘Silvia’ by recent graduate Esmerelda Dominquez Pueyo. We look forward to seeing more from this expressive artist.

There were plenty of contemporary delights, including the oil painting, ‘Progressive Love’ by Tamara Robinson that we presume captures the dynamics of love, highs and lows etc; and then the incredible elementary physical structure,’Histos v’, by Lucy Carty made from nylon stockings, resin and acrylic lacquer. Lucy is truly passionate about her artistic process and we felt privileged to meet her.

Finally, a selection of work from recent graduate, David Macadiarmid ‘Super Cosy Comos’ that we felt looks so cosy that you want to touch it; and the established Italian artist,Gelindo Baron. We feel very passionately drawn to his work; and finally Antonio Lopez Reche, whose work we have come across in previous art fairs. He continues to surprise us with his mythological and rather sexy bronze figures.

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Affordable Art Fair [AAF], Battersea Park, 24th-28th October

Season Seven

As in previous seasons we were given a lot of freedom by the AAF team to transform the external and interior spaces into a colourful setting for the exhibitors and visitors alike.

We drew inspiration for this event by the discovery of many domestic objects lying abandoned in and around Islington – a question began to formulate and put us in a creative spin of ideas and plans – “How would it be if we could transform these every day objects, that others have left for rubbish, into objects of beauty and works of art?” Here are the results:

Transformations

‘Berry tale bed’ a single bed, painted gold and adorned with autumn leaves, given a cosy mattress of ivy, and a hot duvet of berries.

‘Apple Tech’ a computer bursting forth with juicy polished crab apples and autumnal leaves, with the coating painted bright purple and blue; ‘The seat of autumn’ a soft chair furnished with a coat of seasonal coloured leaves/apples, with the wooden sections painted in a 60′s two tone effect; ‘Berries on the shelf’ an old office unit painted gold and stuffed with branches laden with red berries; and ‘Autumn fire’ an old oil fire, oozing blue and purple paint and stuffed with autumn leaves and apples.

‘Forest dining’ – a harvest of berries, grass, eucalyptus, heather, cyclamen and reflected by mirrors decorated with leaves, nobilis and twigs.

Finally, more chairs: ‘Spotty chair’ a tatty wooden seat given a painted make over with purple spots and blue background; ‘Cabbage prayers’ again two scruffy chairs, but with cute hymn book holders, painted shabby chic gold and planted with petit cabbage plants.

Whether you see the ‘live’ display at Battersea, or the retrospective array in this blog, we hope you enjoy them as much as we had fun making them.

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Scandinavia Show, Earls Court 6-7th October 2012

Now in its third year this is becoming a popular fixture in the Autumn social calendar for both British resident Scandinavians and their fans.

Scandinavia Show 2012 Scandinavia Show 2012 Flor Unikon

We really went to town with decorating our stand, using Chinese lanterns, delphiniums and agonitum, clematis and lots and lots of ivy.  This year’s best sellers were our hanging decorations made from silver birch bark and our lamp shades made from hydrangea petals.  We also created a much bigger display of our Christmas cards which in turn stimulated a lot of sales and wholesale orders.

Interview with Lars Tharp at Scandinavia Show Birch tree decoration for Scandinavia Show

On day two of the show we were invited on stage to do a demonstration of our floristry skills. It was hosted by Antiques Road Show expert Lars Tharp, who was very interested in the artistic process and the skills one requires to become a professional Florist. Pasi and Brigitte our leading Florists created a masterpiece of design and floral excellence using three long silver birch branches as a base. Each branch had been specifically connected together to create display pockets to accommodate a series of white and purple flower stems, e.g. avalanche roses, snowberries, agonitum and clematis. The finished result was an original forest themed table decoration that would make a stunning centre piece for a wedding party or some other celebratory event.

Many thanks to Yan Skates and Niklaus for their friendship and their willingness to share the demonstration stage with us.  Further thanks to our two students , Natalie and Jean for helping us set up, you were very professional and slick. We couldn’t have done it without your help.

Jewellery by Camali

Finally, a big thanks to the other Scandi designers whom we chatted to over the weekend, i.e. Akta, tailor made furniture designers, www.akta.uk.com ; Roots Living, www.rootsliving.co.uk ; Hus and Hem, www.husandhem.co.uk ; and finally our charming neighbours from Camali Design, who wowed us with their jewellery sourced from the shores of Cornwall, www.camalidesign.com We really hope to keep in touch with you all regarding future business and promotional exchanges.

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