Five minutes with Moniek Vanden Berghe
Belgian floral designer Moniek Vanden Berghe's spectacular natural floral displays have brought her international acclaim, while her workshops attract aspiring arrangers from all over the world. Ahead of her latest workshop with us, we asked her to tell us why she likes teaching, how she got started and to explain her love of weeds....
ECT: When did your interest in flowers begin?
MVB: My abiding childhood memory is the sheer joy I experienced at seeing willow trees come into life along the fields, and the daises in the grass. But I didn’t make flowers my profession until I was in my thirties. I’d been working as a graphic designer and in those days we did everything by hand, but I knew that the computer was coming and I didn’t want to spend my days in front of a screen because I love that connection between head, heart and hand. As I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, I enrolled at two art schools and studied a whole range of creative subjects from painting and ceramics to sculpture and floristry. I discovered that there were more possibilities with plant material than I had ever imagined and a terribly exciting, enriching world opened up to me. It is still the same today.
ECT: How would you describe your style?
MVB: Maybe my style can be described as ‘discreet flower arranging’. I like natural, clear lines - the pure line of a twig, the pattern lines in a leaf - but above all, my work aims to touch the viewer with the exquisite beauty of flowers or other plant material.
ECT: If you had to choose one favourite flower, what would it be?
MVB: That’s so difficult because I love everything I meet in nature so much. Orchids possibly, but I couldn’t work without the natural lines of trailing plants like clematis or Calystegia.
ECT: Calystegia? That’s part of the bindweed family isn’t it?
MVB: Yes! I have to admit that I have a soft spot for the special charm of weeds - they are free and add patches of colour to the landscape and grow without interference from man. By lifting them out of their natural surroundings and incorporating them in a composition, I hope to pass on some of that life force and sense of freedom.
ECT: As well as your design work, you also run regular workshops. Why do you enjoy teaching?
MVB: I like being together with other people who love flowers and I enjoy helping people to understand why an arrangement works, or doesn’t work. My role is to teach the students on my courses to look more deeply at what they are making.
ECT: And what should they be looking for?
MVB: The balance, the harmony, the contrast. Everything you do in an arrangement, you should do for a reason.
Moniek will be leading a two and a half hour workshop at Chateau d'Auvers-sur-Oise as part of our Fleur Créatif Workshop programme in Paris in May. Find out more here