At Alden Biesen during this year’s edition of Fleuramour ‘Passion For Flowers’, Belgian Floral Artist Tom De Houwer transformed the Courtyard into a gorgeous and powerful depiction of the sheer strength of Mother Nature. The dazzling mega arrangement was an eye-opener with a deeper meaning under this year’s theme ‘Urban Roots’.
Flowerweb had an exclusive interview with Tom who reveals to us the message lay beneath the ingenious arrangement as well as his philosophy on floristry, some advice for budding artists and more. Tom is also currently involved in creating an intensive educational system for floral designers worldwide. Through this, they help people to become the best floral designer they can be.
Give us an overview of your project at this year’s Fleuramour event?
About a year ago the Art Director of Fleuramour Regine Motmans gave me the assignment to decorate the central court of the castle. I wanted it to be a design that involves most of our senses and would be able to evoke emotions. You never really know before it happens that it would be the case. From the reactions we got I can comfortably say that we successfully pulled it off. I also wanted a design that represented not only my floral philosophy but also my life philosophy.
The work is based on transformation. Connection and growth are the 2 most important values when it comes to floral design as far as I'm concerned. Connection you get by respecting the context, the material and the people. Growth you get by creating something that’s not evident and attracting the right people who are not afraid when the bar is raised a little bit higher than before. By creating clarity about your project you can trust in a good outcome based on understanding. It was an exhilarating proces to see the idea come alive. To see people grow through the process of creating is gives tremendous satisfaction to me as a designer and also to all who contributed to the end result. As floral artists or designers we are the servants of beauty and we have the duty to find ideas to bring out that beauty to the world through flowers.
Briefly take us through the making of process; And also tell us some of the floral design techniques you used in your creation.
We had to plan the build-up very keenly. First the dome had to be constructed and at the same time a team of over 10 people started glueing autumn leaves on textile. These were affixed on the inside of the dome. The base structure was also constructed on a platform that had wheels under it. This platform was rolled under the dome, being hauled using 4 electric pulleys.
We then created a gutter on a wooden base and water added. A stone cobble square was built and an illusion created where it looked as if the stones were being pushed away by the roses we put in the centerbase of the design. The elaborately shaped bio oasis served as the recipient. A base metal structure was connected with the dome using metal rods wrapped with rope. At the tips we connected nylon-wire to give it a nice and magical transition. Tubes were connected onto the rods and nylon wires and filled with water and Gloriosa. A pump was added to a water hose we fixed on the base circle of the dome giving it a constant rain effect.
The theme this year was urban roots; how did you capture this in your arrangement?
In our world, nature is being taken over by cities. In my story of urban roots the city is being re-taken over by nature. The 5,600 red roses push away the stones of the old cobblestone square to create space for a new creation. It is a call to awareness. Alerting people that we have to make very conscious choices and act fast in bringing nature back to the cities or one day nature will do it herself.
Do you have a signature style that defines you?
My style revolves around the concept of “Less is More” but not necessarily minimalistic.
Which flowers and materials did you work with?
3000 Gloriosa From Crown Jewels and 5600 Roses "Ever Red" From Deco Fresh Roses.
What do you like most about coming to work at Alden Biesen during fleuramour?
The ability to show my work to a flower-loving audience and meeting other designers from all over the world. Working together with a wonderful and enthusiastic team that becomes my flower-family. I refer to them as my angels, and it gives me a fantastic feeling and a lot of energy.
What's the most important trait that makes one a good floral artist?
Understanding the context he or she is working in and the creativity of creating something for that context that connects with all its layers.
Who were your assistants during the project?
A big crew from Hoogstraten with people from The Netherlands, Israel, India, Turkey,Germany etc. We started with 17 and ended up with 40 - 50 people gunning for a gorgeous final result.
Tell us about the new program you are involved in.
We coach floral designers of all levels to grow their skill, creativity and awareness so they experience more confidence and freedom to be the authentic creator they were meant to be. We hope to release our program before the end of the year.
More moments with Tom's team at Alden Biesen