Aesme was founded in 2015 by sisters Alex and Jessica. We deliver flowers to homes and businesses in London, create arrangements for weddings, events and special projects across the UK and teach floral design classes throughout the year at our studio in Shepherd's Bush.
Our work is informed by the seasons and inspired by the history of the English garden. A shared love of old fashioned flowers - wild foxgloves, heritage roses and scented sweet peas - is matched by our approach to flower arranging, favouring the flower frog and chicken wire technique. We aim to elevate and update traditional methods, drawing on contemporary influences of colour and form to create floral designs that are both nostalgic and refreshing. We grow our own flowers, herbs and foliage in a cutting garden in Hampshire. Scented daffodils and narcissi, striped and fringed tulips for spring; translucent, silky Californian poppies, clouds of wild carrot and Ammi majus in summer with cosmos and foxgloves; autumnal Japanese anemones and richly-coloured dahlias; scented English roses from June to October.
Following the success of our magical 'Bloomsbury Retreat' in 2017, we are delighted to be returning to the idyllic Tilton House in East Sussex for an intensive garden-inspired floral styling and photography workshop with stylist and photographer Kristin Perers in June 2018.
Over this 3 day retreat attendees will learn to create naturalistic floral designs for events using garden-grown materials and how to style and capture flowers for an atmospheric portfolio of images.
We will explore how to grow, gather and source seasonal flowers for event styling and design, using choice props and vessels from local Sussex suppliers. Taking inspiration from the restorative and scenic surroundings of the South Downs we will create floral designs and styled vignettes that evoke the essence of midsummer in England.
You will leave rested, rejuvenated and armed with the skills and confidence to design and deliver exquisite botanical styling for weddings and events, the knowledge of how to style, photograph and edit your work to elevate your portfolio and an insight into how to curate a beautiful, cohesive body of evocative images for social media.
June is the finest month of the year for English garden flowers. There is an extraordinary, explosive upsurge of energy that gains momentum before midsummer, when the roses are at the apex of their first flush and plants are burgeoning towards the longest day of the year. At Aesme, the flowers we most love to design with are natural and imperfect, quirky and unique. They are not straight or complying, they bend, fork, arch, their leaves are freckled, the petals may be faded in colour, the shape of each flower contrary, the stem length inconsistent. Wayward and dainty, garden flowers have a hauntingly beautiful quality that is peerless.
With an emphasis on celebrating the abundance of the season and evoking an authentic sense of place through the arrangement of flowers, we will explore the use of colour, form and choice of ingredients, taking cues from the garden-gathered materials grown specifically for the workshop at our Hampshire cutting garden, and wild foraged elements from the surrounding countryside.
Using the most beautiful summer flowers, branches and foliage, students will learn how to compose loose, romantic bouquets, create artistic table centrepieces and a garden-inspired installation and how to style tablescapes for unique, stylish events. As well as practical techniques and composition we will explore ways of working to a client's brief, development of a colour palette, sourcing and choice of props, and how to create floral designs that savour the time of year, the setting and, most crucially, the ingredients of the season.
This workshop is open to all levels, from beginners at the start of their floral journey to seasoned florists and arrangers looking to rejuvenate their wedding and event work with a new philosophy or style. In relaxed, open group discussions we will explore the nitty gritty of wedding and event design and logistics, the challenges and advantages of using own-grown and locally sourced materials, and how to work with the seasons.
We will share our design philosophy and experiences of establishing a creative floral studio, the importance of developing a powerful social media presence through styling and photography, and how to conceptualise and deliver an original creative brief.
In today's increasingly digital world, successfully capturing images of your work for website and social media portfolios has become a crucial element to portraying your unique style as a floral designer and attracting the ideal clientele for your business. When starting out we quickly realised that just as much as secateurs, buckets and vases, our camera, and those on our iPhones, were some of the most important tools in our kit, and that learning to use them effectively would be essential to the development of our business. Photography allows us to capture the essence of ephemerality in the flowers we grow and use, the fleeting beauty of an arrangement as a frozen moment in time. The images serve not only as a documentation of our work but as a reminder to stop and savour the seasons, to take note of the intricate beauty of the materials. By successfully photographing a single breath-taking specimen we can 'share' our flowers across the world.
We are very lucky to be joined by photographer Kristin Perers at our retreat this year, who we have had the good fortune to collaborate with in the last few years. Previously a fashion designer and stylist, over the past decade Kristin has established a reputation as a first-class photographer, with clients including Vogue, The Guardian, Elle Decoration and many more. At her beautiful home in a Georgian vicarage in Hackney, she hosts ‘Violet + The Vicarage’ workshops with Claire Ptak of Violet’s Bakery and formerly Chez Panisse.
Kristin’s studio, The Flower Factory, a converted warehouse on Columbia Road, is an inspiring space for shoots, and has been featured in Elle Decoration and Vogue Living. In 1997 Kristin’s interiors book The Seasonal Home was published and she has recently worked with Jackson & Levine on their first book (Round to Ours, published May 2017) and previously on The Duck Soup Cookbook and The Violet Bakery Cookbook among many others.
A camera is a technical tool but the process of a shoot is a creative
imaginative engagement. When the two work together, harnessing the
mechanical with the intuitive, you can make your pictures impactful and atmospheric, and the process becomes a heartfelt exploration. Kristin's workshop session will focus on unveiling the creative thought process and practical considerations of documenting your work – as well as technical tips for successfully getting shots that will celebrate your floral designs. Walking students through the process of a shoot, from choosing the best lighting situation to tips on post production edits such as using 'levels and curves’ to give images more power, Kristin will help you find your own style and come away with invaluable tools to create evocative and captivating images.
Any level of photography skills are welcome. Students are encouraged to bring whichever camera they use most frequently to capture their work, whether it is a DSLR camera or smartphone.
M O N D A Y 11 J U N E
Arrival at Tilton House
Tour of Charleston Farmhouse & Walled Garden
Seasonal Supper & Talk on Event Design & Styling
T U E S D A Y 1 2 J U N E
Garden-Inspired Floral Bowl Arrangements
Photography Session with Kristin Perers
Evening Walk to The Cricketers' Arms for Sundowners
Seasonal Supper & Talk on Social Media & Visual Storytelling
W E D N E S D A Y 1 3 J U N E
Garden Rose Bouquet Class
Tablescape Styling Talk & Demonstration
Collaborative Group Installation
Final Supper Party
T H U R S D A Y 1 4 J U N E
Breakfast & Check Out
Optional: Visit to Middle Farm plant and farm shop, Firle, followed by coffee and pastries at the Flint Owl Bakery and a browse round the local boutiques in the historic hill town of Lewes.
Antique glass medicine bottles flank a pickle jar arrangement of Macleaya cordata cut and arranged by Polly at Tilton House. Image by Kristin Perers.
Vessels & props will be sourced from local artisan makers.
Learn to curate distinctive, romantic bouquets. Here, scented roses are layered with dried vines, finished with fluttering ribbons in soft, dusky colours.
Workshop price £1,420 inclusive of VAT.
There is a split-payment installment option constituting a 50% deposit with the remaining balance due 6 weeks prior to the workshop start date.
Included: shared-room accommodation and all meals at Tilton House, evening drinks at The Cricketers' Arms, entrance to and tour of Charleston Farmhouse, all materials and flowers to take home after the workshop as well as professional, edited images of your work for use on social media, your website and portfolio.
Not included: transport to and from the Retreat, transport to Lewes.
Places are very limited: this is an intensive and intimate residential workshop so that every student can benefit from individual attention, expertise and advice.
To book a place, please click here.