Interview: LISA  DARBAN

Our ‘Tropicana’ editorial for this issue features the work of florist and accessories designer Lisa Darban. Rhiannon D’Averc caught up with her to find out what it’s like to work with a living material.

How did you get into working with flowers?

I actually got the flower-arranging bug when I was very young from my dad. I grew up in a horticulturally-based family business, often working events like The Chelsea Flower Show, which was quite an inspiration.

As an adult I had resigned flower-arranging to the category of ‘hobby’, as the prospect of starting my own business felt daunting. Since 2013, creating the floral tributes for several personal family funerals, it really hit home just how much flowers can mean on those significant days. They are an integral part of how we celebrate and commemorate the milestones in life, and make a big difference when they are designed specifically.

So, I realised life is just too short not to do what you love, especially when it can also make such a difference to the people around you.

When did you start to bring flowers more into being accessories, instead of doing floral arrangements for display, and what made you start?

I just love being creative and working with colour, and I knew I wanted to work in a bespoke way. I was commissioned by an international haircare brand to provide florals for a new product range launch, designing leis and headpieces with a Hawaiian theme. The research I did for that sparked my interest in wearable florals, it was a brilliantly fun three-part project where I could push my creativity.

How is it different to create a headpiece as opposed to a more traditional floral arrangement?

It’s a totally different skill, it is very intricate and delicate, and far more time consuming than you would imagine!

There are various different methods of constructing flower crowns and headpieces, so it’s a matter of choosing the best one for the style I am making each time.

Of course, the major difference between wearable flowers and traditional arrangements is that there is no water source for the flowers, so while an arrangement can be made in advance, floral jewellery and headpieces are much more time sensitive and more difficult to care for.

What kind of flowers are your favourite to work with?

Oh gosh, I wish I could give you a straightforward answer to this… but I honestly love all flowers! A few of my favourites would be Eustoma ‘Alissa Champagne’, the Allium family, the Avalanche spray rose, and I do love a scented garden rose too. And hydrangeas, I can’t get enough!   What I really enjoy is being able to create meaning through flowers, so using a specific bloom that the client loves, or that has a traditional meaning. And of course, creating corporate and event work too. One of my favourites to date was a ‘Pink Ribbon’ design for a Breast Cancer Awareness fundraising event.

What inspires you to create the designs and select which flowers should be used together? I really like to make everything as individual as possible, so the colour palette and flower selection reflects the client, the event or occasion. I’m also interested in working more with seasonal and UK grown flowers, moving towards being as eco-friendly as I can!

I managed to carve out a little time to make myself a floral neck piece for a Remembrance Day ball, very simple but it felt great to wear something of my own!

How do you go about making custom arrangements and tributes?

Being able to relate to a client is so important, taking the time to get to know them, and often helping them to figure out what it is they want, when they can’t quite put it into words. Having an emotional connection helps me to focus the design and provide sketches and options which interpret the meaning and feeling behind it. I find it incredibly rewarding, particularly for sympathy tributes. Being able to support someone at such a difficult time, even in a small way, is really special.   How would you describe your personal style? Hmm… I would say my style is quite eclectic. It kind of depends on my mood really, generally I tend toward elegant, classic styles, but I definitely enjoy a statement trend from time to time, and also have a hippy/boho side that makes an appearance! I like to be comfortable, (especially when I’m working), but I’m equally happy in a ballgown or jeans!

Why is it important that customers go to a florist, instead of buying flowers from a supermarket?

Lots of reasons! I would say that it’s important to find a knowledgeable florist that you trust, especially for special events. Having that personal touch makes all the difference. For me, receiving a gift of flowers is an absolute joy, and if they are carefully chosen, and beautifully arranged just for you… well, that is incomparable.

The quality of flowers is generally quite superior from a good florist, and they will be able to advise you on flower care, how to get the most from your purchase, and help you to create a beautiful combination.

Lastly, I think it’s SO important that we all try to support small/local businesses. If we don’t, we all lose out to the big corporations.

When you are sending flowers, ensure you call a local florist. Google often throws up the number for ‘middle man’ companies who then order your flowers for you, but take a cut and have no control over the quality of the end product.

It’s a really tough industry and good floral designers put their blood, sweat and tears into their work, so choose someone whose style fits with yours!

What do you think the next floral trend could be?

Well, of course I think everyone should be wearing flowers all the time! Floral jewellery is really trending now, and I think that will continue to grow and evolve.

My most recent creation has been ‘bump belts’ for baby showers, such a unique gift to make a mum-to-be feel really special.

For me, I will continue on my quest to be creative and to personalise floral art for as many people as possible, because the end result is always a smile, and what more could anyone want?

Find more from Lisa at instagram.com/bespokeflorist

Images via Lisa Darban

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