Roses are red, violets are blue, when you put them together, what do you get? If you were Toni Yuan or one of her students, you would have created an intricate flower design.
When I accompanied my mother to Lucky Flower house thinking that we were there to pick up some flowers for home décor, I was pleasantly surprised by the flower design and arrangement class that was set up for us. The lesson began with design theory, diagram sketching and note taking centered around the “fan shape” we were going to create. Then we were given fern leaves to create a “base” for our flower arrangement. This was actually incredibly difficult as I clumsily stabbed my green floral foam in attempts to place the ferns in the right place. Afterwards, I added snapdragons and carnations to complete the design.The final product was unexpectedly beautiful and I was definitely overjoyed when I could take my creation home. You can see the before and after photographs below.
I also had the opportunity to interview the owner and teacher, Toni Yuan who is an experienced florist who aspires to open flower design schools in China and to bring artistry to the floral business in China. She opened her first flower shop in 1992 and has worked industry for 20 years. Her training as a flower design teacher took place at the American Floral Art School. Below are some of her designs.
How did you start getting involved in the flower business?
I did not actually start my flower business on purpose. A friend of mine wanted me to open a shop in his newly established shopping plaza. I had no experience in floristry at the time but he convinced me to open a flower shop because he said that his mother-in-law would help me set up. In the end, I did not get any help from him or his family but ended up going to flower school to learn flower design step by step.
What is your favorite thing about flower design and teaching?
I love seeing my students go from having no knowledge of flowers to creating their own styles when designing flowers. Floral design is not just a process for making commercial products, it is an art.
What brings you to Beijing?
I heard that the floral business in China does not use technical skills and wanted to change that. Almost all the flower arrangements I see on the market right now are big but not artistically, aesthetically pleasing. I wanted to improve the floral business here and make it more professional through teaching. I also think that working with flowers improves everyone’s appreciation for nature and art which are values I want to share with others. My interest classes are for fun and my professional classes are where students can earn beginner certificates, teaching certificates and even professor certificates. This set up helps me accomplish my goals because I can get many people excited about flowers. I will also be setting up flower design classes for children and children and parent classes so that little ones can join in on the fun. Flower design has also been increasingly popular with young people in other places as a distressing activity and I hope to develop that aspect of this art.
What styles of flower design are popular in China?
The two main flower design styles are Western floral design and Japanese floral design. Western floral design is very similar to the style you can find in the markets because those are the designs some florists attempt to copy. Unfortunately, many florists in China only know how to copy and do not have a good foundation of the principles and ideas behind flower design. It is important to have a foundation because that is the only way florists can really become creative and channel their imagination.