April 26, 23

Interview with James Whiting at Columbia Road Flower Market

When Ed and Andy were creating our newest fragrance; SC.05, COLUMBIA ROAD they knew that the way to showcase it was obvious: FLOWERS! Enter James Whiting, Botanical designer and stylist and a gold medalist as the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Not only that but he styled our Columbia Road shoot!

Andy caught up with him at the place that inspired it all, Columbia Road Flower Market.

Imagine the scene:

A busy hubbub of Londoners eager to get their hands on a bouquet that sparks their interest. Friends debrief their week, with coffee in hand, as they meander through the market stalls, stopping to gasp at a spectacular specimen. Andy and James discussed eager beginnings, the challenges of a photoshoot and all things floral.

Andy:

So James, you are a flower stylist. Why don't you tell us about yourself and how you got into it.

James:

Essentially it was a hobby that became a career. About six years ago I was working in retail, fed up with my job; and I was playing around with plants and flowers my friendÔÇÖs and families homes, driving them mad, and I thought, ÔÇśwhy am I not doing this every day as a career?ÔÇÖ.

Then I started doing the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which most people know of, with a company I was working for. ItÔÇÖs a global event: the best of the best exhibit their plants and flowers there. I was designing houseplant studios: these are essentially outdoor buildings youÔÇÖd have in your garden (the whole category was based around houseplants which was a real passion of mine) and I always choose to do something a little more theatrical and a little bit different.

 

Andy:

We like theatrical!

James:

It was a dream of mine to exhibit at the Chelsea Flower Show. I love the build, the excitement, the sleepless nights and just getting the vision out of my head and into reality that then the public get to see.

Andy:

Tell me why Columbia Road excites you.

James:

ItÔÇÖs the salt of the Earth people and every plant and flower you can imagine! You want to get a bargain, you want to get something unique and different.

When I moved to London I was like, ÔÇśthis is one of the first places I have to go!ÔÇÖ. I first came to Columbia Road 10 years ago when I moved to London. I was working in retail so I would work on a Sunday but IÔÇÖd see people walking past with these big bunches of flowers and I was so jealous. I used to run here on my lunch break (it would be packed by that point) and I would get the flowers and plants that I wanted (I always buy tulips if I can). And I was in a three piece suit and everyone thought, ÔÇśwho is this mad guy coming to buy flowers?!ÔÇÖ. But thatÔÇÖs what Columbia Road does: you want to get down there!

Andy:

How did you go about styling the flowers for our Columbia Road shoot?

James:

You guys had a very clear vision as to what you wanted to do and how you wanted to show Columbia Road off and I worked with that and used it to suit the flowers that work for me and what I like to use and also how it would communicate the product in the best way. We wanted to communicate the unisex fragrance of Columbia Road through flowers.

So we did things like a few tulips and a few daffodils but then mixed with some violet roses and foliage, grasses and delphiniums.

Andy:

One of the biggest points in the scent description is about ÔÇścut stemsÔÇÖ so we really wanted that greenery. One of the challenges we gave you was to build a meadow in the studio. What was involved in that?

James:

Building the meadow was quite difficult! You had the models dancing amongst the flowers.┬áYouÔÇÖre trying to create in what was a studio space and the final product is amazing and looks beautiful but the mechanics pf it behind the scenes, you know you have to work with what youÔÇÖve got sometimes and the ideas I had in my head needed to change.

 

Andy:

Our scents are described as you would read them in a script. Scene descriptions we like to call them. This one describes a scene of Columbia Road but what I want you to do is describe the scent in your own words.

James:

ItÔÇÖs surprisingly light for a floral fragrance. I wouldnÔÇÖt usually wear something floral but as the freshness and the floral side subsides and itÔÇÖs got that ÔÇśColumbia RoadÔÇÖ smell which is obviously why you called it that! ItÔÇÖs got that earthy undertone and the floral side isnÔÇÖt overpowering for me. I could definitely wear this in the Spring.

Andy:

Spring is finally here!

DISCOVER SC.05 COLUMBIA ROAD

 

Written by AKT London