If there’s one aspect of weddings we love here at Polka Dot Bride, it’s flowers. There’s something about the gorgeous colours and shapes and then there’s the perfume – such beauty in one little bundle. Lucky Sydney-siders have this creative florist right on their doorstep! So without further ado, we are thrilled to introduce you to Helene and Max of Blond Flores.
Please tell us briefly about your backgrounds.
Helene: I was born and raised in Sweden. After an initial (and stressful) stint as a nurse I turned my attention to floristry and did a 3 years course in one of Sweden’s most recognised schools of floristry.
In Sweden you are required to do a fulltime 3 year university degree to become a florist. It is very involved and you learn the science behind the varieties and multiple techniques and how to arrange them to a very high standard. This training really gives you a great understanding of your craft and what is required to get each variety to perform at its best.
I worked and competed as a florist in Sweden while also pursuing my other passion: sailing. It was due to the sailing that I came to Australia in the late nineties. I briefly worked as a florist consultant in Sydney until I met my soon to be partner (and husband) Max, who convinced me to open Blond Flores in 2002.
Image of Helene Karlsson by Erik Karlsson
Max: I was born in Italy and migrated to Australia with my family in the late eighties. I have a professional background in textiles and fashion. I worked with some of Europe’s most recognised fashion designers and helped establish some of these major brands in Australia in the early nineties. I also worked with some of these brands on the development of the Designer Home Textile market in Australia.
How long have you been passionate about flowers? What led you down this career path?
Helene: I grew up in a very creative family, my grandfather was an artist, my dad is a photographer, my mother dabbled in garden design so it was only natural that I would fall into a creative line of work. My parents’ house in Sweden is set on 4 acres of beautiful gardens so my love of flowers started from a very young age, I guess growing up in such a setting my career picked me.
Max: I never knew I was passionate about flowers. For decades I had the very common (amongst men) “kill-a-succulent-itis” and only looked at flowers through windows or if I wanted to impress….
Image by Erik Karlsson
What is it about flowers and nature that inspires you?
Helene: I come from a long line of artists. I guess flowers to me are like art and they give me the ability to create a feeling that will compliment any design. A wedding is all about trying to recreate the feel that the couple is wanting, being romantic, stylish, classic and elegant or country. All weddings have a theme if you look hard. Maybe we have two cultures that is being brought together with marriage. I love doing research and matching two together. I love colours and shapes of flowers and still get amazed when I see what the world of flora can create naturally.
Do you both have input in the design process?
Max: Helene is definitively the creative genius; I sometimes watch her while she’s on the phone to a new bride and I can see the cogs turning inside her head as she processes the information and starts to create a vision. It takes creativity and in depth knowledge to be able to quickly steer a bride away from a choice/design that may not be attainable and towards a concept that will achieve the same look with what is seasonally available and within budget.
What do you love about designing with flowers? What is your design philosophy?
Helene: Our design philosophy is to highlight the natural beauty of the countless varieties flowers, with minimal “artificial” intervention. With every arrangement we want to recreate what you may find naturally in a garden often including quirky features such as mossy branches or interesting foliage you might expect in a wild garden that has developed organically and in perfect symbiosis.
Image by Evoke Photography
Do you work closely with the wedding stylists to create the perfect wedding decor for the couples?
Helene: Good wedding stylists and decorators can really transform a loose idea into a stunning visual concept. We work very closely with stylists spending many hours brainstorming an initial concept into a creative brief that reflects The Couple.
Max: We also spend considerable time sharing our knowledge with the stylists to ensure they have at least a basic understanding of seasonal flower availability and what type of flowers/arrangements may suit a certain look. We find this process an invaluable asset in relaying a knowledgeable and professional approach to every wedding. It also minimises the changes of having to rework a design or reschedule countless meetings when brides have so much to take care of. We want to make it easy so they can worry about other things knowing that we have it under control.
What ideas should brides start with when they’re planning their flowers with you?
Helene: Over our 10 years of business we have come across so many different brides. Some have a very precise idea of what they like and want they want; others have come to me and said: “Helene, I don’t know anything about flowers can you please guide me?” Our approach and advice is to always get to know the couple; their likes and dislikes and their personalities. Ultimately and always, your choice of flowers (and design) will always reflect who you are; you may think you know little or nothing about flowers but you do. Our job is to listen, understand and then suggest what we think will best symbolize the couple on their most important day of their life.
Do you usually plan the floral design for every aspect of the wedding as a whole and then pare back according to the couple’s budget?
Helene: We do. We love this approach as it allows for freedom of expression in creating the initial vision and design. It is an opportunity for the bride and groom to understand all the aspects of the design and absorb some details and features that they may not have considered initially but that can turn out to be important to them or to the overall look they dream of.
Max: By fully itemising all costs, it is fairly easy to modify or cut and find solutions that will fit in the budget.
How can a bride still have a gorgeous ‘floral look’ if her budget is limited?
Max: By far, the most cost effective way is to take advantage of flowers that are in season; there is always a wonderful alternative to an “out of budget” flower.
The addition of texture and colour using interesting and quirky foliage, berries, or lace and ribbon to vases can easily “lift” the look.
Image by Angelica Peady
What are some unusual or new ideas you’ve seen that brides could use?
Helene: I like a challenge, so things like ceiling decorations to create a feeling that you are surrounded by flowers and foliage. This doesn’t always work, it has to be the right venue but when it’s done it can make a whole room look different.
Many of my brides try to incorporate something that is meaningful to them: this might be a old picture frames as table number holders or crystal vases from family members. Simple things like a small pendant, pearls from a loved one are amazing and meaningful details to be added to the bridal bouquet.
Tell me about your dream wedding? What sort of flowers would you use and how would you use them if money was no object?
Helene: My dream wedding would be to create a complete wonderland wedding. I would have things hanging from the ceiling, A base of magnolia branches and bamboo, use different vines like Jasmine, Ivy, Smilax and Phalaenopsis Orchids cascading off it. Lots of tea-lights hanging at various heights that would flirt at night.
For the tables I would love to see long tables with a complete moss and floral table runner with tea lights and crystal candle sticks along the length of the table; as if it had been growing there for years. Tulips on the bulb, Lilies of the valley all in small clusters: around the edging, feature trees with lights and floral growing at the base and in the tree crown.
Yum this would just look so amazing!!! One day, maybe.