With a love of all things flowers, it follows that Rachel of Lavande Designs is also aware of creating an impression of style and beauty with her work. Flower arrangements crafted with respect and care are her signature touch – they bring together the colour scheme, add softness and a celebratory atmosphere, and above all, make people happy. Add to that Rachel’s hire service of crystal candelabras, unique lanterns and vases and your wedding will sparkle with your dream vision.
How long have you been in the business and where did you train?
It’s been 10 years this coming September since I set foot into the New York Flower School. I was very lucky to be given the opportunity to start my career there, sitting amongst other students who have since gone on to achieve great success. From completing a master class series there, I began to intern at a design studio in New York before working my way up to Senior Designer roles. Upon return to Sydney, Lavande Designs was established and it continues to flourish!
Image by Liv Style Photography
Do you have any mentors whose expertise you call on?
I keep in touch with many people I worked with in New York. I follow a lot of designers I worked for and admired on social media so I feel I am mentored daily, inspired by their work and all the design projects they are undertaking.
How did your training in New York influence the floral designs you do today?
In New York and how I was trained in particular, the design aesthetic has a focus on an abundance of blooms. That’s how I tend to still design. I use beautiful colour palettes which may be mixed or monochromatic and a classic style of design.
Image by Blumenthal Photography
Do you have favourite flowers that you use time and again?
Of course…. sweet pea, peonies, hellebore, snowball viburnum, ranunculus, water lilies, large vanda and phalaenopsis orchids to name just a few!
Do you love putting together unusual combinations of colour and/or texture, or unusual elements in your floral arrangements?
Absolutely. Colour is everything! Getting the colour palette balanced is the key to designing a striking bouquet or arrangement. Beautiful berries, herbs, figs and lotus pods are just a few textural elements I love to use in designs to add interest. Those alone can change a design instantly.
What role do herbs and greenery play in your arrangements?
Foliage and herbs can absolutely play a starring role in an arrangement. A composition of all green toned flowers and foliage can be stunning and surprising. I love to include plants such as maiden hair ferns and pots of rosemary on tables amongst vases of flowers.
Image by Blumenthal Photography
Which flowers are most often requested by brides?
Peonies and David Austin roses are always a bridal favourite… I’m not sure if that will ever change! If I had to name one, I would say peonies.
What flowers would you like to use more of in weddings?
I love it when brides suggest a colour palette for their wedding flowers and don’t limit themselves by having their mind set on a certain flower type. More often than not, the result exceeds their initial expectation. Large, graphic blooms such as water lilies, lotus flowers and vanda orchids instantly tell guests this wedding is something special.
Do you prefer to work with seasonal blooms?
Of course, I think that’s what makes working with flowers so special is that we all look forward to the sweet pea, jonquils, blooming branches and ranunculas creeping into the market, as it’s a sign of spring!
Image by Studio Something
And what about Australian indigenous flowers?
I’m finding that brides enjoy the texture and the ability to create an unusual combination of flowers by incorporating native flowers into a design. At the moment you just can’t go past the sea of pink, ruby and coral flowering gum at the market.
You offer a styling service for weddings. Can you offer us some simple styling tips for maximum impact?
Think about the vase you use for your wedding flowers. Take an arrangement to the next level by having it designed in something different other than clear glass. Wooden vessels, antique mercury glass or glass lined are some of my favourites. Finish a table setting off by placing a single bloom on each napkin for the final touch and you can never have enough candlelight!
Are there any ‘styling rules’ – for example, does the styling have to match the style of the venue?
I think using your discretion about the style you use at a venue is key. Some venues are blank canvases which can handle any style of design while others have a very particular look. Traditionally these places call for styling which compliments the space and can look stunning but if it feels right to mix it up without going over board, than do it. Set your own rules!
Can you describe a day in your life?
I’m a quick riser. I’m not one to hit the snooze button. Once the alarm goes off at 4.15am, I can be in the van and at the flower markets before 5am when it opens. The markets are vibrant, and you have to be ready to hustle! I often take a quick walk through and make a visual note of what particular elements look best with which grower, then go back and buy. I fill the van and it’s back to the studio to get to work….. but not before a takeaway coffee from my go-to cafe in Neutral Bay. With two kids, it’s always a juggle to make sure lunches are made, school drop offs are complete and then it’s time to design flowers, plan upcoming meetings with brides and chat to clients. My clients tend to have fabulous ideas which we just build on, so the collaborative creativity process is very rewarding.
Image by Gemma Clarke Photography
I would give the gift of ..biltong to my husband… he has deep South African roots!
My favourite romantic restaurant is:
Bathers Pavilion at Balmoral Beach. A casual dinner even in winter time followed by an after dinner stroll along the beach. Perfect!
Thank you Rachel for sharing your story. To find out more about Lavande Designs visit the website.
Headshot courtesy of Rachel of Lavande Designs.