Your name: Christine de Beer
Your Business name: Christine de Beer Floral Lifestyle Design (design demonstrations and skills development) and My Creative Workbook (online floral craftsmanship design projects and tutorials)
Your Location: I live and work in Vancouver in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.
How did you start your business?
I was invited to enter a high profile floral art competition in my final year at college (studying Flower Arranging and
Retail Floristry). I did well in the competition and a few floral art clubs asked me to do design demonstrations for
them. The audiences at demonstrations are usually experienced and talented floral art enthusiasts and I loved the
challenge of coming up with unexpected concepts that will captivate the interest of such an accomplished group of designers. One invitation led to another and another and another and I gradually became more involved in designing with the focus on skills development.
How many years have you been in business?
I have been demonstrating since 2007 but it was only after I attained my Advance Florist Accreditation from the World Association of Flower Arrangers in 2010 and won a floral design innovation award that I started to work as design skills developer and industry consultant.
My Creative Workbook website started as a place for me to capture my research, design projects and techniques. In 2011 I took part in the WAFA International Flower Competition in Boston, USA and was awarded a silver ribbon for my Zipper design. After the competition My Creative Workbook became a way for me to stay in touch and share my designs with my flower friends and members of the World Association of Flower Arrangers. Since then it has grown into a floral craft resource for floral artists, florists, floral designers, flower arrangers, floristry students, teachers, hobbyists and flower enthusiasts from all over the world. I post a new design with related photograph tutorials every week.
What is your design aesthetic?
I am a meticulous and deliberate designer. I enjoy details. I enjoy research. I actually enjoy fretting over my work to get things just so. My work takes time. That is probably why I appreciate designing for publications and competitions. Every tiny detail is significant. After spending days building a single delicate floral structure it will naturally start to fade but a photograph of the work lives on.
How do you create your style and where do you draw your inspiration?
I have studied traditional floral design and techniques both at college and as a post graduate apprentice for many years and even though my design style is contemporary I often use ancient, cultural and traditional craft techniques that craftsman would have used centuries ago. I am inspired by the dedication these tradesmen had to really master their craft. My floral art is the result of trying to bring these two ends together. If you remain curious you remain inspired.
What are the trends, flowers & colors that are unique to your region?
Vancouver is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Our seasons are pronounced and can easily be described as a calendar cliché if it wasn’t so spectacular. It is also a cosmopolitan city with fascinating influences from all over the world. Both the seasons and world influences definitely effects the choice of flowers and trends that dominates but above all Vancouverites appreciate the beauty of nature and it shows in daily life and in all forms of design work.
Are you a retail shop, studio/warehouse or home based?
I have a design room, which is somewhere between a flower workroom and a photographic studio.
Do you offer any services in addition to floral designs?
I write a bi-monthly article for the Canadian Florist Magazine discussing floral craftsmanship, am a regular contributing designer for DIY Weddings Magazine, work as an industry consultant exploring design possibilities and promoting innovative high quality flower arranging supplies and equipment and work as a floral craftsmanship instructor and demonstrator.
How do you balance the desires a modern bride when purse strings rest on the shoulders of traditional parents?
Designing for a wedding is no different to any other design project. There are always limitations and expectations and invested emotions. My guiding rule is to play nice. Make sure everyone has realistic expectations of what can be achieved. Be fair to the bride, be fair to the parents and don’t forget to be fair to yourself. And invite the individuals you work with to do the same.
What tool in your toolbox can’t you live without?
Drinking straws. I prefer not to design flowers dry and always include some sort of a water source even when I glue flowers into a fragile armature. If a regular test tube will be too big and bulky I place the flowers in tiny drinking straw “test tubes”. Cut then seal the drinking straws at one end and fill with water. It’s particularly suitable for slow drinking flowers. One tiny straw tube will keep an orchid hydrated for days. I always carry a handful of these in my small tool bag.
What’s your favorite flower?
A green lady slipper orchid. I use a lot of plant material in my work. I love using thorns, grasses, roots, seeds, mushrooms and twigs to set the right tone for my flowers. I can see my native South African roots showing in the way that I tend to use what I have at hand.
Anything else you’d like to share with Flirty Fleurs followers?
If you have perfected a skill, teach someone else how to do it. If you meet a designer who has perfected a skill, learn from them. This keeps design skills alive and it also cross pollinates expertise between craft and art forms creating a stronger skill set that will ensure that floristry stay relevant, continue to develop and even thrive in challenging times.
You can buy flowers anywhere but it is only from a skilled designer that you can buy a floral design that perfectly translates your emotions. It is our skills that set us apart. It is floral craftsmanship that will keep floristry flourishing.