Page 1


Volume One




fleurotica - 5


the wildflower cafe - 9


stem intorduces... - 13










photograph: erin lyons

MASTHEAD When I was a child and the summers seemed as if they would never end, I would always be found endlessly foraging for daisies. I would spend hours sitting under my favourite tree in my local park transforming my daisy collection in to a daisy chain then as the sun finally said her goodbyes, I would hide my ever growing chain under some twigs and wait patiently until the morning sun to start all over again. Ever since those carefree days of my childhood I have always incorporated flowers in to my life, I feel on edge if there is not some form of budding life sitting on my windowsill chasing the sunlight.


STEM has been created to continue those childhood memories of flowers that stay with us throughout our lives. STEM believes that the beauty that revolves around flowers and floristry should be celebrated in a contemporary and simplistic manner, for a flower’s beauty needs no extra complications. STEM sets out to explore the beauty of flowers in a refined and sophisticated way, allowing flowers and floristry to take the centre stage. STEM views flowers and floristry as an art form and seeks to showcase this art form in all realms of life, from installations to cooking to fashion. STEM attempts to steer away from traditional florist magazines by fusing the notion of floristry with the world of art, allowing flowers to be encapsulated by their very own art form.





Erin Lyons Editor





to the southern and eastern Asia countries of China, Japan, Korea, the Himalayas and Indonesia as well as The Americas is the beautiful and somewhat extravagant flower, the hydrangea. Some start off as small shrubs measuring between one and three meters tall however some hydrangeas grow mighty enough to be classified as small trees with some reaching heights of up to 30 metres by climbing their way around trees. The arrangement of hydrangea’s can be found in two forms, ‘mophead’ flowers and ‘lacecap flowers’. Mophead flower hydrangeas form a large, round shape reminiscent of mop heads whereas lacecap hydrangeas showcase round, flat flower heads. The life cycle of the hydrangea is from the early fresh spring months until the darkening days of late autumn. The colouring of hydrangeas varies from species to species. In most specimens, the colours of hydrangea petals are a frosted white or off-white colour however some species, such as the macrophylla, the colour of the petals can range from pale blues, vivacious pinks, deep purple and light lavender purple tones. The colouring that is found on the petals of hydrangeas reflects the level of pH readings found in the soil they bloom in. Acidic soil with a pH reader of lower than 5.5 grow blue hydrangea flowers whilst soil with a pH reading higher than 5.5 tend to cultivate pink flowers.


Hydrangeas flourish in rich and moist soils whilst bathing in the morning sun, drinking in water regularly as their leaves tend to wilt if the soil is too dry. As for pruning hydrangeas, this mustn’t be done unless it is absolutely essential and you must only prune in the springtime to ensure your hydrangeas flower until those darkening autumnal nights.




marriage of floral design and fashion annually joining hand in hand at Chicago’s extravagant showcase of design 5



annual celebration of floral and landscape design combined with the expression of fashion is coming back to Chicago for Fleurotica 2014. With 30 of the city’s top floral and landscape designers participating, Fleurotica fashions a haute style catwalk show benefiting the Garfield Park Conservatory, showcasing the immense talent that these designers create with their botanical and nature infused fashion designs. The 2013 show at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art was a huge success with designs from renowned landscape artists and floral designers such as Jenny DeMuth and Kyle Hustedt whose combination of ferns as a base with orchids and roses embedded in their extravagant dress and headpiece creation received spectacular reviews. The Great Gatsby era of glamour and opulence was a huge inspiration to Jeff Jonan, Rebecca Eckblad and Jose Llera of Mariano’s Floristry Design with their creation incorporating more than 400 white cala lilies to produce a completely stunning dress that would make Daisy Buchanan weak in the knees. The winning garment was the creation by head designer of Scarlett Petal, Sam Kori George, and her lace inspired fern wedding gown. Mystical woodland folklore inspired the look by entwining lace and fern leaves to create a floor length gown with maiden styling in the form of French maid locks with a number of blue pansy flower heads placed to form a floral crown. All proceeds raised during Fleurotica’s sumptuous shows go towards the Garfield Park Conservatory housing six multifaceted greenhouses and two grand exhibition halls, which is often referred as ‘landscape art under glass.’ For more information on Fleurotica vistit:



photograph: david miller,

THE WILDFLOWER CAFE With fresh flowers and fresh food

all year round, STEM invite you to The Wildflower Cafe


Notting Hill’s Wildflower Café, situated on Chepstow Road is London’s

latest pit stop for delicious food and floristry treats. With The Wildflower Café’s inviting exterior of purple walls and an abundance of windowsillpotted plants and bouquets it’s hard not to be tempted to enter it’s doors. The establishment opened in November 2013 and embodies a superhero-esque nature by being a café and florist by day and a bistro by night. The Wildflower Café serves fresh food that is made to order, drawing inspiration from all over the world. The chef’s at The Wildflower Café have experiences of working with different cuisines from around the globe such as France, South East Asia and the Middle East. All the ingredients used influence the daily changing evening menus with dishes such as their roast cod fillet with puy lentils, chilli and cumin and their char-grilled wild venison served with celeriac puree, baby spinach, spelt barley and port jus. The Wildflower Café pride themselves on only using seasonal vegetables, minimising environmental damages in production as well as ensuring that all ingredients and produce are GM-free and responsibly sourced with no pretention as they state on their website, “Our food is of the comfort variety, we don’t do foams or gels or vapours, preferring to mess with the ingredients as little as possible and let them speak for themselves.” 2As well as offering delicious food, The Wildflower Café also houses a small florist, selling bouquets and potted plants all year round at affordable prices. Just like it’s seasonal ingredients, The Wildflower Café sells seasonal flowers that compliment the seasonal food dishes perfectly. For more information, visit The Wildflower Café’s website:


12 images courtesy of


JESSIE CALLAGHAN AND IMPOSSIBLY CURIOUS As a child Jessie Callaghan would always spend her

days making daisy chains and now she is taking the next step with her ever developing youthful florsitry company, Impossibly Curious, which sells inexpensive flowers that certainly do not skip on style and quality



With a love for flowers from an early age, it came as no surprise to Jessie Callaghan that one day she would open up her own individual floristry company, “I’m lucky enough to have grown up in a house where there are always flowers so the love and appreciation of flowers in general has always been there. I was one of those kids always making daisy chains during the summer.” Jessie is a 23-year-old graduate, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fashion Journalism from the University for the Creative Arts in 2012. Whilst in the pressured environment of her final year at university, she jokingly stated that she wanted to drop out and open her own floristry, “I’d just seen Raf Simon’s last Jil Sander show and I became obsessed with Mark Colle. Things after graduation didn’t go exactly as planned and I was very restless.” With the prospect of being thrown in to the real world after graduation and the perils of trying to find the perfect career, Jessie decided to take a job in an office to simply pay the bills but her hunger for creativity was something that she couldn’t possibly shake off. She decided to sign up for a flower arrangement course at her local college and her childhood adoration for flowers and floral design quickly began to resurface.

there are very few florists you can walk into and have the ideas you have in your head made into reality.” Spontaneity and the continuous hunger for creativity stimulated Jessie to pack up her dead end office job and she began interning again, eventually leading to a full time job at Vice Magazine with her professionally fitting Impossibly Curious around her busy lifestyle. In order for her to push Impossibly Curious’ popularity her flower arrangement teacher informed her during one lesson, that the best areas to sell flowers would be at a train station or a graveyard. Jessie opted for the latter and not so morbid option, and finally in October 2013 she showcased her first pop up flower shop in London’s central hub of creativity, Shoreditch’s Boxpark. Jessie and Impossibly Curious were apart of the ‘Somewhere To’ incentive which allows people from the ages of 16 to 25 to set up there own spaces throughout the UK retail industry showcasing their industry ideas. The idea that the simple joy that flowers bring but without the big price tag is something that Jessie and Impossibly Curious are continuously wanting to express with the tempting tactic of selling all her designs for under ten pounds, “I interned in Amsterdam and although I didn’t have much money, flowers were always something I could afford and always cheered me up. I thought it should be the same here in London. I believe that Impossibly Curious prides itself on bringing you beautiful fresh cut flowers at a fraction of the price, without skipping on the style and design.” Jessie has also been able to encapsulate a youthful, stylish and creative feel to her designs, with many influences deriving from 90s grunge. Jessie and her company also

Within a matter of months Jessie’s idea of a floristry company began to develop and very soon Impossibly Curious was born with Jessie being the creative and youthful mind behind the bouquets. The notion of Impossibly Curious is that it is a floristry design company accessible for a younger target audience who do not have excessive amounts of money to spend on bouquets and arrangements as Jessie expresses, “unless you have mega bucks to spend in a high-end florist


“I was one of those kids always making daisy chains during the summer” 16

“I interned in Amsterdam and although I didn’t have much money, flowers were always something I could afford and always cheered me up. I thought it should be the same here in London”

create highly stylish and fashion based lookbooks with her flowers, such as her Broken Roses collection for autumn/ winter 2013, that combines contemporary and artistic photography, eye-catching streetwear and of course, beautiful and stylish floral designs at accessible prices. With a successful pop up showcase of floral designs and ongoing seasonal lookbooks under her belt, what more is there for Jessie and her fresh, innovative business? The three years Jessie spent at university allowed her to gain experience and develop her own taste in photography and styling, she is now working with equally creative minds in the form of photographers and stylists to create new editorial ideas. Unfortunately for Jessie, full time work commitments have sadly forced Impossibly Curious to take a back seat from being a full time business but Jessie still has great ideas on the horizon for her company, “I’m also planning a re-launch in Spring, I’m having a play with what else can be done with flowers and I hope to offer a monthly subscription service to fit all budgets.” For her re-launch in May, Jessie is also planning on working on other ideas to compliment her floral designs such as soaps and candles, allowing them to express creativity and individuality, “I’m going to make candles and soaps, but not grandma looking by using test tubes, holders and chemistry beakers.” It comes without a doubt that Jessie and her visions for Impossibly Curious are something of a breath of fresh air to the floristry industry. The appeal to a younger audience hailing from a creativity-fuelled background with inexpensive yet stylish designs is something that surely will gain popularity as the business grows. With new concepts and designs forever brewing in Jessie’s creative mind, it’s a safe bet that the curiosity of Impossibly Curious will never dwindle.




From rose petals to day lily

buds, to an Edible Flower Workshop, STEM takes a look into the botanical realms of cookery

20 Photograph: Eva Kosmas

“Nature is the most important suppiler I have and I need her for my botanical cooking”

Roses, lavender, violets oh my! The use of cooking with

chef could have as she told, “nature is the most important supplier I have and I need her for my botanic cooking.” The combination of flowers and cooking is something that is forever playing in Iolanda’s mind, every morning she forages for flowers and is always thinking of new recipes to incorporate different floral tastes, she doesn’t even use pepper in her recipes anymore as she states, “now I use flowers in every recipe for example instead of pepper I use cappuccina - it’s a flower that actually tastes a lot like pepper. I want people to remember encountering these flowers and the emotions they had when they taste my food.”

flowers is a notion that will always be connected with the flamboyant and glamourous eras of the sixties and seventies. Open any cookbook from those days gone by and without a doubt you will come across at least one recipe that is garnished with some sort of botanical treat. Before the popularity of cooking with flowers exploded during the opulence decades of the sixties and seventies, the concept of cooking with floral elements actually dates back to around 140 BC. Many different cultures from around the world throughout the ages have experimented with the use of flowers in their cooking. The Romans were avid users of rose petals, mallow and violets. Just like the Romans, the early Hispanic and Italian cultures also adored creating culinary dishes using rose petals. Early Indian cultures heavily used marigold flowers in their cooking whilst the first Mexican and Oriental cultures such as China and Japan, experimented with daylily buds and vanilla pods.

Iolanda is not alone in her mission to get people cooking with flowers again, photographer and self-confessed foodie Eva Kosmas creates many culinary treats using flowers and showcases them on her blog “Adventures In Cooking”. An interest in cooking began at an early age for Eva, her parents owned and operated a Greek deli in Eva’s home town of Hillsboro, Oregon, which enabled her to grow up with a love of cookery and food as Eva says, “whenever my mom was cooking at home I’d just stand next to her at the stovetop, pestering her to let me stir the pot a little bit or add the next ingredient, the idea that you could mix a bunch of completely different items together and create something completely wonderful and harmonious fascinated me.” ‘Adventures In Cooking’ focuses heavily on food styling and photography to create beautiful imagery, conjuring up warm emotions of what food means to us. Eva takes all the photographs on her Canon 5d Mark II SLR

The popularity of using flowers within cookery somehow lost its appeal as the seventies came to a close. For Iolanda Bustos, the head chef and owner of La Calendula (which roughly translates to ‘The Marigold Restaurant’) a traditional Spanish restaurant located in Girona, Spain, the love and pleasure of cooking with flowers is something that hasn’t dwindled. Every dish on her menu has at least one botanical ingredient, from a salmon and mixed floral salad to cod soup with green peas and sauco flowers. Iolanda prides Mother Nature as being the best supplier a


22 Photograph: Eva Kosmas

“the flavours you can pull from flowers like lavender, jasmine and roses can’t be recreated. nothing even comes close to it.”

eva kosmas

camera as well as taking on the role of art director and food stylist at the studio in her home. Eva’s experimentation with food over the years has led her to view food as it’s own personal art form with her viewing all elements and aspects of food as artistic, “I’ve been drawn to it as an art form, particularly because it is the only medium that engages each of the five senses of the human body. The appearance, smell, texture, taste, and even the sounds of simmering, crackling, crunching and dripping, preparing food engages everything and the canvas for creation there is pretty much limitless.”

her salted caramel and rose cake and candied pansy and viola mini pavlovas. Eva also includes collaborations in the series, she recently collaborated with Amy Reed, a florist from Luna Moss. They recently created a photographic series depicting floral bouquets as well as edible flowers in food, including creamed rose and honey popsicles and a gin based cocktailed with infused cornflower petals called “The Cornflower Kickback”. In the realms of cookery, using flowers as ingredients are usually restricted to sweet foods and desserts, however Eva has begun to experiment with flowers in savoury dishes as she explains, “flowers aren’t limited to desserts, you can add a lot of dimension to a savoury dish by incorporating floral flavour, I recently used hibiscus in a pomegranate glaze for a leg of lamb that came together wonderfully.”

Flowers as an ingredient in cooking are also something Eva frequently experiments with and feels more people should be encouraged to do so. For Eva, using flowers as elements in cooking is an easy way to inject colour and elegance in to any dish with unique flavours being the end result, “the flavours you can pull from flowers like lavender, jasmine and roses can’t be recreated by any other spice or herb. There is no clove-nutmeg substitute for rose, nothing even comes close to it.” Eva has composed a section in her blog called ‘Adventures In Cooking: An Edible Flower Workshop’ which began last year. The ‘Edible Flower Workshop’ series posts feature recipes using floral ingredients such as

With all these cookery elements growing in our back gardens, it is no wonder Iolanda and Eva are pining for the comeback of cooking with flowers to grow in popularity. From roses to lavender, elderflowers to jasmine and marigold to hibiscus let’s hope that Iolanda and Eva’s floral vision of future cookery blooms just like their favorite botanical elements.


24 Photograph: Eva Kosmas



Honey Vanilla Buttercream

Candied Rose Petals (optional)

2 3/4 cups flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 3/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar 1/3 cup brown sugar 3 egg whites 2 whole eggs 1 cup full-fat vanilla yogurt or 1 cup whole milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon rose water

3/4 cup butter, softened 2 tablespoons honey 3 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Petals from 10 organic roses 1 egg white, lightly whisked 1 cup ultra fine caster or baker’s sugar pastry brush

Salted Caramel 2 Tablespoons Water 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream, at room temperature 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar, packed 1/4 Cup Butter, at room temperature 1/2 Teaspoon Salt

METHOD First, make the caramel. In a small thick-bottomed saucepan mix together the water and the granulated sugar until well blended. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat and continue boiling until the mixture turns a light caramel color, only stirring once every four minutes. This took me about eight minutes, but the speed will depend upon the heat of your stovetop. Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the heavy cream, butter, and brown sugar until incorporated. Be careful as the mixture will spit and hiss a bit. If the sugar begins to clump up when you’re stirring do not fret, just stir as best as you can for about 30 seconds and then put the pot back on the heat and bring it back to a boil again over medium-low heat. Once it is boiling again stir until the sugar chunk dissolves and the mixture is smooth. Once it smoothes out, stir it every two minutes and allow the mixture to simmer for 10-12 minutes or until it has thickened. Remove from the stovetop and stir in the salt. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature. Now you can begin making the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease and flour (3) 8-inch baking pans. In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt and then set it aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg whites and mix until incorporated, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, rose water, and half the milk and mix until blended. Then alternate between adding half the flour mixture and the remaining milk until everything is incorporated and the batter is smooth. Evenly distribute the batter between the cake pans and place them in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing the cake from the pans and allowing them to cool completely. While the cakes are cooling, you can begin candying the rose petals (optional). Lightly brush each petal with the egg white until it is completely coated in a thin layer of egg wash. Take a small spoon and gently sprinkle the caster’s sugar over the petal until it is coated with the sugar all around. Place on a wire rack to dry until crisp, repeat with the remaining rose petals. Now you can prepare the buttercream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and honey. Add the powdered sugar and continue mixing until smooth, then add the vanilla extract and cream and mix at medium-low speed until the buttercream is smooth and fluffy. Set aside. Spread the salted caramel between the layers of the cake, then frost the outside of the cake with the buttercream. Garnish with the rose petals by gently pressing them onto the buttercream, and serve immediately

26 Photograph: Eva Kosmas

A FLOWER FOR EVERY HOUR The experience of buying fresh

flowers has been shaken up with the introduction of Rockflower, a 24 hour, 7 day a week retail and vending outlet in London’s Blackfriars station. STEM invites you to the floral revolution

photograph: rory cole



“I love to have flowers around me, they are spiritual, happy and healthy”


a florist assistant to help retail customers between the hours of 10am and 8pm. Rockflower opened to the public in January 2014, by being a truly unique way to buy flowers it’s popularity is slowly gaining momentum. With the notorious rush of Londoners always on the move, how does Andrew feel the experience of flower buying that Rockflower offers will cope in such a busy environment? “We’re only a month old so it’s an attempt; we’re trying to find out what does sell. There is the fact that people going through tube stations are not used to stopping to buy, they’re just rushing through. We’re trying to slow them down, it will take a while for people to realise that we are permanently there.”

arrival of Rockflower in the forecourt of London’s Blackfriars station has created a revolution in the experience of buying fresh flowers by combining retail and vending, with customers able to buy flowers from the floral vending machine 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The concept was visualised 20 years ago by Andrew McAlpine, a movie production designer who was living in LA at the time. Andrew has always been an avid and active gardener who developed a penchant flowers from an early age, “I love to have flowers around me, they are spiritual, happy and healthy. I’ve always had them and I’ve grown flowers since I was 5 years old. I’m dedicated to the wonderful beauty of flowers.” During Andrew’s life in LA there was a lack of flowers to buy at leisure, despite the main floral distributors being in Mexico, a mere two-hour drive away. For Andrew, the concept was to simply revolutionise vending and retail by merging the two together to create an innovative and luxury experience in flower buying at an inexpensive cost, “the idea was to revolutionise vending because at the moment there are flower vending machines around the world such as Budapest, however, they’re like a lazy Susan, they’re horrible in style just mainly single roses. I wanted to have a much greater selection.”

Flowers and floristry are undoubtedly a stereotypical feminine pastime and pleasure, with the average buyer of flowers being a woman between the ages of 40-65 years who want a personal service. For Rockflower, however, this is completely the opposite of their popular customers, “the person who’s not buying at the moment or wants to buy is a bloke, and he likes vending. The proof of that is at Blackfriars 80% of those vending are men. They buy either on choice or on price.” It appears that this unique creation of merging retail and vending to create a pleasing floral shopping experience has allowed Andrew and Rockflower to tick all the right customer selling strategy boxes, but what is the story of the products?

The vending aspect of Rockflower is a 24-hour service that is provided seven days a week, it allows the customer to pick their desired bouquet through a simple to follow touch screen system. The customer selects and pays for their bouquet and then collects the arrangement after the selected unit door in which the bouquet is safely locked away has opened. The retail feature of Rockflower showcases a professional and friendly service by having

Andrew himself designs all the bouquets and floral arrangements that Rockflower sell, and although he is not a trained florist he certainly has an eye for design and floral arrangements thanks to his love of flowers from an early age as well as his profession as a film production



“Democracy of beauty is what I’m really after, affordable flowers on the run, on the move 24/7. It’s an attempt to revolutioniSe quality flowers”

designer, “I’m not a florist but at the same time I know how to put together what I consider to be pretty interesting arrangements of flowers”. The flowers for his bouquets are selected from Heemskerk, one of The Netherlands largest floral distributors. The employees at Heemskerk buy their flowers fresh at auction between 2.00am and 6.00am in the morning and place them on their website, it is then Andrew’s job to select what flowers he desires for his arrangements which are then delivered. Affordability is also something of a huge focus for Andrew, with expensive high-end florists in London he wanted to create something that people of all financial backgrounds could enjoy, “It’s affordability that’s the main thing. There are lots of fabulous florists in London but they are expensive so I’m trying to use long lasting flowers that last a good ten days. As I get them from auction the day that they come in, they make them up that day and then send them out to me that afternoon; the bouquets at Rockflower are actually two days fresher than anything else in London.”

containing silk flowers that are presented in either English slipware or a Waterford Crystal vase, Rockflower allows their customers to experience the luxury of high-end floral design at a fraction of the cost without scrimping on quality flowers. Andrew’s idea for Rockflower that he dreamt up all those years ago in sun drenched L.A has truly revolutionised the experience of buying flowers. Rockflower’s use of combining a vending mechanism as well as classic retail strategies allows Rockflower to cater for all customers, whether you want a personal touch of floral assistance added to your buying experience or whether you are simply in a rush but wish to brighten someone’s day. Although it is early days for Rockflower, this notion of vending and retail selling techniques for quality yet affordable flowers is something that should be embraced as Andrew, poetically describes, “Democracy of beauty is what I’m really after so affordable flowers on the run, on the move 24/7. It’s an attempt to revolutionise quality flowers.”

The range of bouquets at Rockflower vary and are able to suit any customer, from pretty pink bouquets busting with lilies and chrysanthemums to luxury bouquets


32 images courtesy of rockflower

REBECCA LOUISE LAW: FLORAL ARTIST Cambridge born Rebecca Louise Law’s love affair with floral design began with art. She studied Fine Art at Newcastle University and developed a penchant for oil on canvas as she identified herself as a ‘colour field artist.’ However, for Rebecca the notion of two-dimension paintings left her feeling restricted and frustrated so she decided to explore the third dimension. Rebecca’s hindrance ceased when she found her third dimension in the form of flowers, “my father is a gardener and had nursery gardens full of flowers to use at my liberty. This led me to swap paint for flowers. Little did I know that flowers would bring much more than colour to my work.” After graduating, Rebecca fueled her newfound thirst for floral design by working for independent florists who guided her in her floral career and in 2005 she gained the title of Senior Floral Designer at the prestigious and highly stylish McQueens floristry in Clerkenwell, London. After four years of working for McQueens, Rebecca’s hunger for a more personal creativity flourished and she decided it was time to go back to her artistic roots. Her early art work consisted of paintings and public art by using waste flowers that she foraged from local florists, slowly but surely she began to develop her style in to larger installations and has acquired an impressive cliental list. Rebecca has created work in the form of visual merchandising for retail companies such as Mulberry, Cartier and Jo Malone to grand floral installations for respected events such as the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and the opening of the Coronation Arch at Windsor Castle, where six willow arches have been constructed as a gift to the Queen with each arch representing and celebrating each decade she has been on the throne. The Royal Windsor and Rose Horticultural Society commissioned Rebecca to decorate the columns at the gates of Windsor Castle with roses to welcome the new attraction in style. For Rebecca however, her greatest achievement to date was her installation at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden for Hermes’ ‘Ballet and Banquet’ in October 2011. The installation featured an array of vibrant flowers including roses, chrysanthemums, daffodils, lilies and violets that were suspended from a glass ceiling and dangled delicately over the guests dining below, Rebecca reflects on the experience fondly stating, “it was an incredible achievement with the time that we had to install it and the quantity of flowers I used.”




“dahlia” 2003

“The hated flower” 2014



“My work is always inspired by nature and it’s intensity”


Rebecca’s latest installation is being showcased at The Garden Museum. Situated in the heart of London stands the museum, a small renovated church opposite The Thames that’s delegation is to capture what gardens mean to people. The church’s garden was created in 1980 and encapsulates a sentimental spirit of 17th century London for the garden houses the tomb of the great gardeners and plant hunters John Tradescent the elder and John Tradescent the younger, his son. In the garden visitors will find planted all the species that the Tradescent’s introduced such as scarlet runner beans and red maple. Rebecca’s latest installation entitled ‘The Flower Garden Display’d’ is a floating meadow of 4,600 blooms, from roses to lilies that dangle from the high ceiling of the church creating a whimsical and dreamlike atmosphere. The Flower Garden Display’d is an accompaniment to the museums ongoing exhibition ‘Fashion & Gardens: Spring/ Summer - Autumn/Winter’, the exhibition explores and celebrates the bond of fashion and gardening by featuring haute designers such as Alexander McQueen and Valentino who continuously are inspired by garden and floral designs. For Rebecca the connection between flowers and fashion is something that has continuously been coupled and is something that reflects in her work as she explains her installation, “over the years fashion has utilised flowers of every variety and shape, I have made a small reflection of this with over 60 different varieties of flowers. My work is always inspired by nature itself and it’s intensity.” With an ever-growing cliental list and forever pushing herself forward in the field of floral art, the world is Rebecca’s oyster. Her creative mind and talent of creating floral installations that encapsulate the viewer in a personal way is something that is should be deemed worthy of celebrating. It seems that in such a short space of time Rebecca has achieved so much in the field of floristry design and it is safe to say that her talent and eye for captivating floral art and design will continue to flourish.



images courtesy of rebecca louise law

IN BLOOM Photography: Rory Cole Floral Styling: Erin Lyons tulip, hyacinth



wood sorrel



gypsophila, hydrangea


Three world famous photographers with three different portrayals of flowers. STEM examines the floral photography of Robert Mapplethorpe, Nobuyoshi Araki and David Sims


Through the eyes of a camera lens we are able to view even the most

mundane aspects of life in an animated and sometimes unrealistic way, depending on how our minds portray the images we are viewing. The art of photography through the years has allowed its audience to conjure up their own judgements and perceptions of the image captured in front of them. The emotions that are evoked in one particular individual could be the extreme opposite of what another individual visions; this allows photography to always be subjective, a notion that hasn’t declined as the art form has progressed. Flowers have been a subject matter in the field of photography since its beginnings. The beauty that flowers express allows them to be the perfect model and focus point for any photographer. German photographer, artist, teacher and sculptor Karl Blossfeldt, born in 1865, was one of the first photographers to capture the beauty of flowers in the photographic art form. Blossfeldt began to take photographs of plants and flowers with homemade cameras that allowed him to magnify the subject up to 30 times, which then permitted him to document the details of a plants natural structure. He was inspired by nature as well as the anatomy of flowers and has been quoted saying, ‘the plant must be viewed as a totally artistic and an architectural structure.’ His photographic documentations entitled, ‘Urformen der Kunst’ (which roughly translates to ‘Original Forms of Art’), were published in 1929 which makes Blossfeldt one of the early and leading photographers of flowers as an art form. Since Blossfeldt, there has been a number of photographers who have captured the beauty and emotions of flowers and plants. This feature on photography and flowers will focus on three photographers, Robert Mapplethorpe, Nobuyoshi Araki, David Sims and their visulisation and symbolic portrayals of flowers through a camera lens. Robert Mapplethorpe was born in Queens, New York in 1946. He began taking photographs after using a Polaroid camera. In the 1970s he started experimenting with a Hasselblad camera whilst documenting the lives of his friends, acquaintances, artists and composures. Mapplethorpe was deemed as a very controversial photographer as attention grew towards his published work. His solo exhibition tour in 1989 named ‘Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment’ was a photographic series depicting homoerotic and borderline pornographic images of men including BDSM, was deemed as offensive to viewers at The Corcan Museum, where the exhibition was showcased. Sexuality, sensuality and nudity were subject matters that Mapplethorpe focused on throughout the 1980’s by creating statuesque photographic nudes and delicate flower still life images.


IMAGES: TATE.ORG, pleasurephoto.wordpress,

robert mapplethorpe

From the years of 1978 to 1989, Mapplethorpe focused his lens on the subject of flowers and produced his ‘Flowers by Mapplethorpe’ series. The collection of photographs features an array of flowers including, calla lilies (a personal favourite of Mapplethorpe’s), orchids, poppies, tulips, iris’ and anemone’s. Mapplethorpe’s perfected use of composition, lighting and blank backgrounds allow the focus of the beauty of flowers to really encapsulate the viewer. The flowers that Mapplethorpe selected for the portfolio, specifically the calla lily, has been critiqued of simulating sexualised messages but in a more refined and demure way as opposed to his heavily homoerotic driven past series. The placement of some of the flowers conjures up images of sensuality, in particular the angle of the shot showing the spadix of the calla lily in a phallic way. Mapplethorpe set out to steer away from the idealistic image of purity that flowers are connected to, he wanted to show their loss of innocence through his use of lighting and shadows to create his own portrayal of flowers through photography as he quoted in the 1989 BBC ‘Arena – Robert Mapplethorpe’ documentary, ‘It’s not what the subject is, it’s the way the subject seems and for me flowers, and their structure are perfect to work with. They’re mine. No one else can photograph flowers the way that I do.’ Noboyoshi Araki, born in 1940 in Tokyo, Japan, started his career by studying photography at college and by 2005 Araki had published an impressive 350 books of his work and he is considered to be one of the most prolific artists in Japan and the world today. Arkai’s style of photography is very raw and holds many sexual connotations that have been deemed erotic and borderline pornographic by critics due to his use of bondage and BDSM imagery. His book entitled ‘EROTOS’ features an array of sexualised images of everyday things such as cracks in a pavement and flowers. Araki’s exposé of flowers in his book ‘EROTOS’ transforms the anatomy of flowers in to a very sexualised manner by drawing comparisons between the flowers themselves to males and female genitalia. The perceived


nobuyoshi araki

sexualised imagery is something that Araki is renowned for however not all of Araki’s photographic documentations of flowers fit the profile of being erotic. His ‘Sakura’ series features sensual images of the seasonal burst of colours through Tokyo’s cherry blossom trees, an annual occurrence in the urban city. Araki documented the early bloom in 2013 at Tokyo’s Hamarikyu Gardens and Aoyama Cemetery with a Polaroid camera using expired film. The ending result produced a series reflecting the traditional Japanese metaphor of cherry blossom trees representing death. Through Araki’s lens he encapsulated the darker nature of the cherry blossom tree, the dark silhouette of the tree itself entombed by a dark border connotes a cynical feeling of death itself. For Araki, the cherry blossom holds personal connections to him as well as obligatory sexual connotations which he explained in an interview to, ‘Flowers are there for me to love, and cherry blossoms are the top of their kind. I can’t quite put my affection for them into words, and that’s why it continues to hold a special place in my photographs. When standing under the old trees, the layers of flowers look like women’s underwear.’ British photographer David Sims was born in 1966 in Southern Yorkshire, England, he dropped out of school as a teenager and became an assistant to photographers Robert Erdmann and Norman Watson where his talent for photography began to grow. Sims has developed into a globally famous fashion photographer, although the work he produces does not reflect the norm of fashion photography. He produces gritty, honest and realistic imagery that hold an anti-fashion aura. Through Sims’ lens he focuses on the beauty of imperfections for example in his work involving models he captures their perceived flawed aspects such as knotted hair and wrinkled shirts but through his use of perfect light and artistic direction he evolved these imperfections enabling them to look perfect. In 1996 Sims was named ‘Photographer of the Year’ at the International Festival of Fashion Photography, beating the likes of Steven Meisel, Jurgen Teller, Craig McDean, Mario Testino and David LaChapelle.



‘when I look at these roses close up and trace their own knocks and dents, I find a greater beauty and complexity in their imperfections.’ Sims’ photographic exploration into the beauty of flowers simply titled as ‘Roses’ was published in 2003. His collection of photographs of roses reflect his personal style of showcasing imperfections, he exposes the unexpected beauty of roses. For Sims, he wanted to focus away from the familiar imagery that rose portraits convey, as he explained when ‘Roses’ was published, ‘the fragile and temporal qualities of flowers are well used as a visual metaphor for youth. When I look at these roses close up and trace their own knocks and dents, I find a greater beauty and complexity in their imperfections.’ Sims’ artistic mind observed that roses evoke and represent more than just beauty and for himself, roses have a deeper connection, ‘I was a pupil at school where these roses would grow, those roses represent for me a very definite point in life and state of mind.’ To create his depiction of roses Sims used focused lighting to create dark shadows that allows the imperfection of the rose to come to life, along with dark backgrounds the entire images capture a sense of flawed perfection. The roses are photographed throughout their lifecycle from their budding stages until their petals begin to wilt; this allows the message of growing beauty and fading beauty to really tell Sims’ story. Through the series ‘Roses’, Sims has managed to take something that is perceived to be beautiful and renovates it into something that is a raw reality.


Through the art from of photography flowers are able to evolve and be transformed from one meaning to another. From Robert Mapplethorpe’s sensuality depiction of calla lilies to David Sims unexpected beauty of roses to Nobuyoshi Araki’s sexualised portrayal of flowers, the representation and projection of flowers in a photographic art form is clearly something that can be represented in different ways depending on what eyes and what minds are behind the lens.


A FLORAL EDUCATION: THE MCQUEEN SCHOOL OF FLORISTRY Situated in the hub of Old Street, the McQueens flagship florist is an image of opulence and style. From its humble beginnings 22 years ago as a small floristry in Shoreditch, McQueens has grown in to a multi-faceted business for the modern day. The company founder and managing director, Kally Ellis has allowed McQueens to gain a highly respected international reputation for quality, style and innovation with inspirations for her floral designs deriving from art exhibitions, fashion, travel and interiors. McQueens also boasts a showcase of clients such as the prestigious A-list Vanity Fair post Oscar parties to London’s most famed five star hotels as well as working in the fields of television and film. McQueens offers an educational programme in the art of floristry design entitled ‘The McQueen School of Floristry’ that attracts numbers of students from all over the world, led by the highly talented florist Duncan McCabe, who is the senior course tutor at the school. The school prides itself on the teachings of its own unique and personal philosophy based on Ellis’ founding principles of style, simplicity and skill. From day courses such as ‘Comprehensive Hand-tied’ where students achieve and perfect this contemporary form of floral design to intense vocational four-week courses that allow students to really master a wide range of floral techniques and designs. The four-week course is taught by experienced McQueens tutors who deliver hands on and personal approach, the school also prides itself on encouraging its students to express their personality and creativity in to their own floral designs. Jean Egbunike, McQueen’s head of PR explains how the McQueens School of Floristry draws in students from all realms of floristry experience, “McQueens school welcome students with a range of experience. From students that have very little or no experience to florists who have worked in the industry for some time and are looking for inspiration.” For Jean and the McQueen School of Floristry team, the availability


and variety of courses they offer produces a vast number of students who seek to work in the floristry industry or simply just want to enjoy themselves and learn a new skill, “Students attending our vocational courses are seeking to work in the industry and often hope to start a business. In addition to this we have a range of short courses where the emphasis is more on a fun day experience.” When leaving the floristry school, all the students leave gaining valuable skills giving them the opportunity to further their careers in the floristry industry. The McQueens School of Floristry see the growth of confidence and skill in their student’s floristry abilities to be their greatest successes. As well as teaching students respected skills in the field of floristry design that continue to flourish after students leave, the personal relationship between students and tutors also continues to thrive with students keeping their past tutors up to date on their new found careers in the industry as Jean explains, “Many of our students keep in touch and keep us updated with their progress and we have many students around the world enjoying a career working with flowers. Our Senior Tutor Duncan McCabe has recently enjoyed a trip to USA having been invited by a former student, an experienced florist who has opened a flower school in California.” Whether you are hail from an experienced background in floristry or you simply want to start to learn and develop skills in the art of floristry design then The McQueens School of Floristry is the perfect school for you to let your creativity in flowers prosper.

For more information on applying for courses at the McQueen School of Floristry email them your enquires at: school@


image courtesy of mcqueens



7 6

4 3 8 1.. Suzani 2 Seater Sofa, Name Design Studio -£1,346 2. Orla Kiely Flower Stem Bird House - £24.95 3. Studio Snowpuppe Wall Fixture Klimoppe With Paper Lamp Moth - £121.64


4. Zara Leaf Cushion - £3.99 - £39.99 5. Zara Floral Tea Cup - £9.99 6. Zara Floral Tableware - £5.99 - £19.99 7. Anthropolgie Kamala Armoire - £2198.00 8. Zara Floral Mirror - £69.99



HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW? photography: rory cole Styling/art direction: Erin Lyons hair: tori stewart Make-up; alice HOLSON model: chloe watson at storm models bag-zara flowers-ranunculus

roll neck-topshop flowers - gerbera





shirt - STYLISTS OWN flowers-lithianthus, hyacinth forget-me-not,sweetpea, baby;s breath



honest and genuine smiles as soon as the flowers were given to them, as well as signifying appreciation and delight, with the reaction being universal across all the age groups. The study also found that not only do flowers bring instant happiness but they also leave a long-term positive affect on moods, with participants who felt negative emotions at the start of the study expressing positive emotions and a better life satisfaction rate after the study had finished. The study also examined where in their homes people would place their flowers with the majority of the arrangements being placed in areas of their home that are open to visitors such as living rooms and dining rooms, with the suggestion that flowers are a symbol for sharing. Speaking to the University’s magazine, Rutgers Magazine, Dr Haviland-Jones expressed her surprise by the final results of the study, ‘I was shocked. When I saw every person who got the flowers responded with the Duchene smile, I though ‘no, this doesn’t happen.’ In the emotions lab, you never get a 100 per cent response unless you’re dropping a snake on people, which gives you a nice 100 per cent fear response. But, happy? No.”

there is a knock on your door and you open it to discover a bouquet of flowers greeting you, it’s hard not to smile. Flowers instantly make any person of any background smile. The simple joy that flowers bring is hard to beat, which is something the U.K floristry and indoor plant industry is proud of, boasting an impressive worth of £2.2billion at retail level. Although receiving flowers promptly raises a person’s mood the British Flower and Plants Association recorded that an estimated 60% of flower and plant buyers in the UK are actually buying flowers for themselves. We now realise that the joy that flowers bring shouldn’t be restricted to buying them for special occasions; they should bring joy to the everyday. The question is, however, what is it about flowers that allows them to change someone’s mood for the better as if by magic? In 2005 a study conducted at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey entitled ‘An Environmental Approach To Positive Emotions: Flowers’, led by Dr Jeannette Haviland-Jones decided investigate. The aim of the study was to examine and explore the link between flowers and life satisfaction over a period of ten months with a wide range of participants, studying their behavioural and emotional responses when receiving flowers. Overall there were 147 adult female participants who were evenly distributed across three age groups, 20-39 years, 40-59 years and 60 years and above. The study’s method was to test the effects of flowers by comparing the immediate and long term behaviour of the women who received floral bouquets to the behaviour of the women who were presented with ‘flower-irrelevant controlled stimuli’. The study found that flowers have an immediate impact on happiness, all the women who received flowers expressed

For Dr Haviland-Jones, there are many possible reasons as to why flowers evoke happy and positive emotions in us as she says, “one could be odour, which I think is particularly likely. Colour is another good possibility. And there is some research showing that we’re drawn to symmetrical shapes and patterns. Not all flowers are symmetrical, but some are.” It appears that we will never truly know exactly what it is that flowers do that create positive activity in our brains, whether it is colour or shape or smell it is a true to say that flowers do make our psychology a little bit happier, no matter what mood we are in.

75 photograph: erin lyons

THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS Anemone - Forsaken Bluebell - Consistancy Cherry Blossom - Impermanace Daisy - Innocence Elderflower - Compassion Forsynthia -Anticipation Grapevine - Abundance Heather - Protection Iris - Message Jonquil - Desire Lotus - Purity Magnolia - Dignity Narcissus - Egotism Orchid - Beauty Poppy - Extravagance Quince - Temptation Redbud - Betrayal Spirea - Victory Thistle - Misanthropy Violet - Modest Wisteria - Welcome Yarrow - Cure Zinnia - Mourn


“I have always found it fascinating that male gardeners are so proud of flowers they grow but as soon as the product is cut there is a perception that it then becomes a female pursuit.”

FROM FINANCE TO FLORISTRY In today’s society, which is overflowing with equal opportunities, finding a talented and dedicated male florist is somewhat like finding a needle in a haystack. Nick Priestly, 39, from Glasgow, is that so hard to find needle. Before finding his calling in floristry Nick’s career was in the financial world where he worked as a tax account after taking the traditional route of going to university where he gained a business degree before taking on a graduate scheme at a large accountancy firm in London where he met his wife Vivienne. Six years later, Nick’s wife decided to leave the field of finance and move to Glasgow to pursue a career in floristry by working in a flower shop before opening Mood Flowers, Nick and Vivienne’s company in September 2003. Mood Flowers focuses on creating and producing luxury hand tied bouquets and flowers for events and weddings. Mood Flowers



also takes pride in it’s flower school, a programme that began in 2008 offering a range of courses for all interests in floristry, from amateurs to fully fledged qualified florists. Nick decided to release himself from the corporate chains that held him since graduation and by January 2004, four months after the birth of Mood Flowers, he resigned from his job and joined his wife Vivienne to start his career as a florist. For Nick, who had no experience in the world of flowers, the transgression from finance to floristry comes across as quite a risk and was never a set goal, just something that simply happened in Nick’s life, ‘it was purely by chance. Floristry was something I had never considered.’ Being a male florist allows Nick to emphasise with his male customers and the stigma that surrounds men buying flowers, a consumerist


notion that is typically regarded as a feminine aspect, “I can understand exactly how men feel in a flower shop,” Nick states, “many of them feel awkward and they are looking for a florist to help them choose flowers, pay their money and leave the shop as quickly as possible. If they leave with flowers then they would prefer to have them wrapped so that no-one else can see that they are flowers.” Nick also views the stigma of men and flowers something to be captivating, particularly as gardeners are usually male, “I have always found it fascinating that male gardeners are so proud of flowers they grow but as soon as the product is cut there is a perception that it then becomes a female pursuit.” The fact that Nick is one of the very few male florists in a stereotypically female driven industry, one would assume that he has endured some form of prejudice throughout his career, however for Nick this certainly isn’t the case particularly when it comes to the heavy lifting side of things, “never. In fact being a man in a perceived female job has its advantages. People remember me. More media opportunities have arisen because I am different and I can also lift lots of heavy vases!” Nick’s media opportunities positively have thrived, he regularly appears on STV’s The Hour as their in-house florist. Nick and Mood Flowers have also gained an impressive clientele list since their humble beginnings in 2003, world wide famous names have all come to Nick for floral arrangements for many events, Nick let’s us in on a few high-profile names, “we have received orders from Tom Cruise, Thandie Newman and Rihanna to Kylie Minogue, Keira Knightley and P Diddy. We are entrusted with


codenames to ensure the flowers get to them.” High profile events are the norm for Nick, with Mood Flowers catering for corporate events and weddings with high budgets, however during the first few years of Mood Flowers these high profile events felt overwhelming, especially a wedding where the final budget was £15,000 on flowers, Nick looks back on this memory fondly, “this was in the first three years of our business and seemed overwhelming at the time. However with careful planning and a great team we pulled it off.” Things only progressed for the company with Nick being responsible for creating floral arrangements for prestigious establishments such as One Devonshire Gardens and the Cameron House and The Blythwood hotels, as well as high-end retail shops such as Cos and Jo Malone. But what is Nick’s greatest achievement since he entered the world of floristry? For Nick it was a very royal affair, “during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year we were asked to provide flowers for a large lunch she was attending in Glasgow. Knowing that she was sitting down to lunch in front of our creations was a very proud moment.” The future for Mood Flowers is undoubtedly an on going journey that continues to thrive with Nick’s brain constantly bubbling and brewing with new business ideas as Nick informs of forthcoming projects, “there are so many projects I am working on the moment including our new website, planning for a wedding I will be designing in Italy this summer, taking our flower school classes further afield and my first book. I often have many ideas to take the business forward – it’s a question of finding time to see them to fruition!”



GOOD KARMA The Taoist belief of ‘the journey is more important than the arrival’ is the philosophy of Karma Kabs, a car hire company with a spiritual twist. Karma Kars boasts an assembly of traditional and vintage Indian Ambassador cars which are influenced by the design of 1950’s Morris Oxfords that began around ten years ago by lifestyle guru Tobias Moss. Every Karma Kab is ethically decorated uniquely and in beautiful style. Interiors adorn sequins and fine beaded frabics while the exterior bumpers of the cars are garlanded with an array of bright and colour flowers, allowing you to really be driven in style. Karma Kabs is popular in the world of wedding cars as well as high-end corporations such as Selfridges and Bloombergs. Karma Kabs is also a go to car company for celebrities, Lily Allen featured Karma Kars in one of her music videos while Sienna Miller, The Jaggers and Kate Moss are names in the Karma Kabs little black book. For more information on Karma Kabs email: karmakabs@




All rights reserved. For educational purposes only. STEm is a stage three BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism project and has no commercial value.Š No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publishers. 2014 BA (Hons) Fashion Journalism, University of the Creative Arts Epsom. The views expressed in STEM are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the course, its staff or the University of the Creative Arts at Epsom. These parties cannot be held responsible for them.

VOLUME ONE : £8.00

Stem Magazine  

A contemporary lifestyle magazine focusing on the art of flowers and floral design.

Stem Magazine  

A contemporary lifestyle magazine focusing on the art of flowers and floral design.