[INTERVIEW]Introducing French artistry to floral design in Korea

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[INTERVIEW]Introducing French artistry to floral design in Korea

In the nearly three decades since a handful of Korean florists trained in Japan introduced the Japanese style of flower arrangement known as ikebana, teachers and floral shops have rigorously pursued rigid and formulated design, but not genuine artistry.
Beginning in the late ’90s, Koreans began to adopt French-style flower arrangement. That meant dropping those uniformly distributed roses and baby’s breath with a red ribbon in the center and instead bundling up blossoms of fresh-cut garden varieties. Korean florists loved to name-drop French titles and artists to show off their new Euro-chic influence.
When Daniel Pichon, a French “flower artist” ― he insists he is not a florist ― came to present his works in Korea, he said he saw too many copies of trendy French designs in local boutiques.
“Copies may resemble famous formats out there, but they lack the designer’s artistic spirit,” he told the IHT-JoongAng Daily.
He says he finds it unnecessary to follow popular trends, because flower decoration is both time- and place-sensitive. “The most ideal place for flower arrangement is, of course, a white empty space, but many places are not like that,” he said.
For the holiday season, a number of florists in France have created simple, natural settings by strewing leaves and flower petals around candles set on the table.
“Incorporating holiday color, such as red, is important, but they used brown to create a warm and luxurious atmosphere,” Mr. Pichon said. “To me, natural persimmon trees in Korean wintertime can offer a very natural Christmas feeling.”
A native of Champagne based in Nice, Mr. Pichon has won prestigious awards in France and has worked in Paris and Monaco on various projects. He has been a member of the Paris Floral Mode since 1977, and has worked for celebrities such as Isabelle Adjani, Elton John and Nicole Kidman.
His most recent project was the lavish wedding of a member of a prominent Italian family at the Saint Jean-Cap-Ferrat church in the south of France. He decorated the interior of the church, the banquet tables and even the streets along which the bride and groom drove.
Such large-scale events come with hefty price tags ― it was 60,000 euros ($60,000) for that wedding ― but Mr. Pichon can also provide less expensive designs, using leaves that aren’t as pricey, or materials more readily available for the particular season or market.
He recently visited Korea to prepare for the launching of his own brand here early next year, and to decorate the interior of the French Ambassador’s residence in northern Seoul.
He works with a local freelance florist, Lee Myung-hye. To explain his concept to his assistant, he swiftly draws a rough sketch in his agenda book. He describes his style as architectural, colorful and bearing his personal stamp.
In the already heavily decorated living room of the Ambassador’s residence, he placed a few pots of large lavender orchid blossoms set on tall structural frames, from which hung long burgundy chiffon ribbons.
In the unusual arrangements of orchids, Korea’s most popular flower, Ambassador Francois Descoueyte said he recognized the designer’s special feelings about Korea. The arrangements were grand, colorful and quite uniquely Daniel Pichon.

by Ines Cho
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