Meet the Maker
FLORA STARKEY

Flora Starkey is the ultimate bespoke designer of unconventional blooms. Known for her beautiful compositions with a delicate touch of dark romance, her wild and bounteous arrangements of rare, home grown flowers and foliage have captured the eye of clients including Alexander McQueen, Freize London and British Vogue. This Christmas season, Flora Starkey has created two unique natural wreaths exclusively for House of Hackney; handcrafted from precious flowers and winter berries. We caught up with the London based florist to discuss inspirations, her design process and the beauty of all things floral.
What led you to where you are now?

My mum was a florist so I’ve always been around flowers, but I did work in fashion for a long time. I had my own label and was designing clothes for years, but when I had baby number three, I decided that I wanted to stop travelling and do something that was more focused around home that could work with my family, and flowers just seemed like an obvious choice.

 

Do you think there’s a strong correlation between the design work you were doing in fashion and your floristry?

Absolutely, I think design is design and the principles are the same. It’s a very instinctive process so I don’t find it wildly different. I find it more spontaneous and instant, it’s a bit more like painting than making clothes, but the design process is very similar.

 

And do you think your work is similar to the work that your mum did?

In some ways yes because she is a very keen gardener as well, she grows a lot of stuff and arranges everything from the garden. I might be a bit wilder than her, my style might be a little louder than hers..

 

On your Instagram you use the hashtag ‘from the garden’; do you grow plants as well?

It’s something that I’m starting to take a lot more seriously. I plant things specifically that I can use in my work rather than just purely for my own pleasure. It’s really the things that you can’t buy, the wilder plants like vines, creepers, rambling roses that make arrangements more interesting.

Your work has such a strong atmosphere to it, where does that come from and what are you inspired by?
I’m a very visual person so I love going to exhibitions and reading books, and a lot of my references are probably quite old fashioned, although I take a lot of inspiration from interiors, wallpapers and prints.

 

 

 




 

Does some of it come from the Dutch masters?
I’ve always referenced those pictures, long before I did floristry as a career. I think they’re just so captivating and beautiful; I love the darkness that underpins them. I guess because flowers are so transient and a lot of the beauty comes from the fact that it’s quite fleeting, that it doesn’t last forever, and there’s a lot of beauty in the decay as much as the life. I love the imperfections of things, I love flowers as they die, and I think they’re so symbolic of the whole life cycle.
That captures it perfectly because looking at your work - you really do capture that sense of the delicacy of the flower and its fragility.
I think that’s just going back to the garden again, there’s so many flowers today that are cultivated and bred to last for a long time and I think so much of their beauty has been bred out of them , for example, fragrance is bred out of a lot of flowers to make them last longer, but I think the most beautiful things are the things that don’t last so long; a rose from your garden is not going to last as long as one that’s been cultivated and imported but it’s going be ten times more beautiful while it lasts.

We’ve already touched on the dark romance of your work, whose work from the world of literature and music do you think this mood aligns with?
A lot of the old romantic British ¬writers. I love the old classics, but I also love Patti Smith and Robert Maplethorpe and their relationship; how her writing is so poetic and beautiful, and touches on such sad, powerful subjects the same way that his photographs are beautiful and sad all at the same time. The beat poets, I love the book ‘Perfume’ by Patrick Suskind, it’s very dark but all about incredible, overpowering beauty.

 

What’s your playlist while you’re working?
It’s so varied; today I’m listening to Stone Rose and Primal Scream - having a bit of a 90s revival! But quite often there’s a lot of soul music, I have some disco days - there’s always music in the studio.

 

So how do you start embarking on a new project? What’s your process?
I treat every project very differently; it depends if I’m working with someone or if I’m working in a space and what it’s for. I love a theme and I love to run with that, so it’s an instinctive sense of what’s appropriate for that occasion. If I’m working in a space I usually get quite a strong sense of what would work, and then it’s a creative journey, depending on how long you’ve got to plan and work on something.

 

How did it work when designing your wreaths for House of Hackney?
I created the colourful one with a sense of what I felt the brand was about, which is a lot of colour and pattern, and translated it into what I like to do at Christmas. And then the green one; I love the print on print thing that you do, the complete image of your designs, and you just max it out so I thought it was appropriate to have one that was quite purist in the fern one, with a little bit of gold for Christmas.

Do you have a favourite flower, and why?
I think the most I can narrow it down to is an English garden Rose; I couldn’t choose a specific variety. I love peonies too but roses just have the edge because their scent is so incredible, I guess they remind me of my childhood. To me that’s the most beautiful flower at every stage, from bud to rosehip. But I have to say I’m not that moved by the cultivated, imported ones, so it would have to be a garden rose.

 

 

Which flower do you think is most versatile to use?
The things I use the most of are the finishing touch flowers like astrantia or paperwhites, ones that pull everything together, but I don’t know if they’re the most versatile. Every group of flowers has a different role to play in arrangements. Tulips are great, I love them on their own because that’s another one that changes and keep growing even after they’re cut; but hydrangeas are great as a base flower, roses are a focal flower and then you’ve got all your little ones that finish off an arrangement.

 

Do you have a favourite garden in the UK?

It’s hard to choose between Sissinghurst or Great Dixter, I love those two because of the houses and their story, and the history of the whole environment. They’re beautiful places to be; there’s just so much in the fabric of the atmosphere.

What is it that you love about Christmas the most?
I think it’s a time to reconnect with people. Christmas day is always family orientated but I think we’re so busy these days that it’s nice to just make the time to see people and be together and cook - sitting down and eating together, and it’s all about the kids for me.

 

What’s on your wish list from House of Hackney?
The Palmeral wallpaper to go with my Palmeral curtains in my dining room. I’m going to go all out and have my garden dining room.
 
 

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House of Hackney now offers an exceptional in-house bespoke curtain and blind-making service tailor-made to our customer's requirements.

Our service offers you a wide choice of headings, fabrics and styles to create a truly bespoke window dress. All you need to do is supply your window measurements and follow the easy instructions on screen.

To receive a quotation simply follow the 5 steps below and a member of the team will respond with a quotation within 24 hours:

  • Step 1

    Choose your fabric

  • Step 2

    Select your
    mechanism type

  • Step 3

    Enter your
    mechanism pully

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    Enter your blind size

  • Step 5

    Enter your lining type

For any queries or if you would like to talk through your needs with the team please contact the customer services team on + 44 (0) 207 739 3901 e-mail : bespoke@houseofhackney.com.


STEP 1 Choose your fabric

FOR ALL FABRIC OPTIONS PLEASE SEE HERE

STEP 2 Select your mechanism type

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STEP 3 Enter your mechanism pully

STEP 4 Enter your blind size (cm)

STEP 5 Enter your lining type

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