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February 03, 2017
Zita Elze is an award-winning floral artist, designer and teacher. She is also creator of the Living Embroidery Collection – incredible gowns and accessories adorned with fresh flowers, berries and other natural materials, which won her a silver-gilt at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2009. Her shop in Kew is also absolutely charming, like a little woodland nook! I’m delighted to introduce Zita here, and discover some of her inspirations.
I began working in floral design by accident really. After graduating in Garden Design at the Inchbald School of Design I set up a shop in Kew and created some floral displays for outside. I had more and more enquiries and before long the flowers took over from the gardens. I still design gardens though, and still love working on interiors, which I studied earlier at the KLC School of Design. Everything works together.
There is no typical day in floristry, there is always a new challenge. I always get up early and try and start each day with some meditation to clear my thoughts for the day ahead. Then I check and respond to mail. Some days I am off to New Covent Garden Flower Market very early, other days will be preparing for teaching, a wedding or a special event. Every day is different just as each project is different. I always work on fresh ideas, never repeating any design.
Each fragile flower, each strand of greenery, each new project, each day being different, the changing seasons. This is what I find most inspirational about floristry.
I had a great teacher at the Inchbald School of Design (Andrew Wilson) – when I proudly showed him my first design, he told me to start all over again; I couldn’t believe my ears and got very worked up with a mixture of anger, wounded pride, humiliation and despair. It took me a while to understand what he wanted from me: not to stop at a first pleasing result, but to take the design to its full potential. This has shaped my attitude of always going the extra mile and to relentlessly explore any further improvement potential. Some of my students have as hard a time with this attitude as I did at the beginning!Every living flower dress that I work on is immensely important to me – they come from the soul. Last year it was Sleeping Beauty and this year I created a larkspur gown called Shadows, handmade with fresh flowers for British Flowers Week. There have been 10 so far.
My approach to life is to work with dedication, have meticulous organisation, find the space to tap into my emotions and find new depths in my creativity, enjoy time out from work, to value personal and professional relationships. I love art, music, walks, the countryside, gardens, architecture, travelling, good food and most importantly time spent with my family.
I am hugely inspired by many designers, but some have really touched my heart in some way or other, among them Christian Tortu, Piet Oudolf and Tage Andersen; among the renaissance artists I like Piero della Francesca above all othersIf I were to get on a plane tomorrow, I’d go to Japan somewhere outside Kyoto away from the tourists, to find inspiration in nature and gardens.Creativity, art, spirituality and sensitivity comes naturally to me. Small moments make me smile, kind gestures, interesting people, the beauty of nature, seeing my students flourish and happy clients of course.
When brides receive a bouquet or floral design service from Zita Elze Flowers, I want them to know that I have put my soul into their project, and have understood what they want, -perhaps even when they haven’t quite yet grasped that themselves. I love it when they say that I’ve surpassed their expectations. I also want them to know that they are special and that I design everything from the heart, each time something original and just for them.
Most of all, I hope that clients value my naturalistic style. Some clients – my favourite ones – give just a simple brief and leave me to design, based on sometimes just a few key words. My work is often described as ethereal and am known for designing from the soul. I also think clients come back because I’m very organised and pay meticulous attention to every detail, not just the creative aspects but the organisation too, so they know they’re in safe hands. With every job, it is in my perfectionist nature to deliver more.I want to convey something magical, from the spirit, naturalistic, original and made for that special moment, creating a mood that will illuminate and be remembered for its quality.
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