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Sunny days in the UK

We had a wonderful experience at the European Floristry School (EFS), organised by the British Florist Association. The 3-day workshop took place on the 23rd till the 25th of June at the Moreton Morrell College in Warwickshire, England. We were very fortunate to participate as a flower sponsor along with Florismartdirect and Just Chrysanthemum. The EFS happens only once every two years. The weather was exceptionally sunny, which made the idyllic agricultural surroundings even more pleasant. The flowers lasted well, even in the high temperatures.

Behind the scenes - Photography
Clematis Amazing - Closeup

For the love of flowers

The British Florist Association (BFA) is a trade association dedicated to elevating the floristry sector in the UK. The BFA’s purpose is to unite professionals, foster collaboration, and nurture growth of the floral industry. They support florists by sharing resources, creating connections, and organising events such as the European Floristry School.

What makes the EFS so special is that it is taught by three different designers over the course of three days. Those who enroll for all three days get to learn from a different designer every day. The groups change daily, allowing participants to make numerous connections with other florists and learn from each other. Many people who have attended the course in previous years have formed lasting friendships and are still in touch with other participants.

We spoke with Tracy Tomlinson, who organised the European Floristry School as one of her last projects as BFA Association Manager. She explains why continuous learning is vital for florists:

Tracy Tomlinson - British Florist Association

They come here, not just to learn new techniques and see new varieties, but they want to be inspired so that when they go back to their business, freelance or studio, they can love flowers again.

Three unique designers

During the 3-day workshop, participants honed their skills and learned new styles from three world-renowned floral designers. We had the privilege of watching them create and teach the most stunning designs for various occasions, from wedding bouquets to headdresses, floral jewellery, and funeral work.

Designers - EFS

Pirjo Koppi

Pirjo Koppi is a renowned master florist from Finland and a passionate spokesperson for floristry. She has over 25 years of experience. "Floristry is my life", she explains. She sees florists as interpreters who create different atmospheres and feelings.

Pirjo Koppi - European Floristry School

Pirjo taught workshops worldwide and has won and ranked highly in many competitions, including third place in the World Cup (2015) and Europa Cup (2016). She was awarded the FFA Gold Medal of honour in 2017 and became Master of the Year for the Master Guild of Helsinki in the same year. Next to travelling the world to share her passion, she runs a flower shop in Finland.

Her style is characterised by form, technique and innovative uses of familiar materials. Pirjo describes her experience teaching at the EFS as: "fantastic, they have been very enthusiastic students. It’s nice to see that they enjoy to learn". She also praised the Marginpar flowers for their beauty and quality.

Tomasz Max Kuczyński

Tomasz Max Kuczyński, an incredibly talented Polish floral designer, started his floral journey at a young age. He first started learning about floristry when he was only 16 years old. A graduate of the Miklaszewska Academy of Floristry, Tomasz participated in numerous courses and competitions. Tomasz has a lot of experience with teaching. He is CEO of the International Institute of Floral Design in Poland and actively participates in events around the world. Tomasz’s collaboration with the BFA began when he first competed in an international competition in the UK.

Tomasz's floral style focuses on transparency, space and respect for flowers. "I like to show flowers how they really are. To show the natural lines, not to curve them. To show the natural beauty of the flowers." He adapts his flower choices based on the seasons, setting and country. He used grasses from the college grounds for his classes and enjoys working with Marginpar flowers as well. He used Clematis Amazing® in several of his designs. "I like to work with Clematis, I will put a lot of them in this bouquet, they are like butterflies".

Technique is crucial in his teaching. When flowers are treated in the correct way, they will last a lot longer. At the EFS, Tomasz prefers to focus on one technique thoroughly, inspiring students to transform and apply these ideas in their own work and flower shops.

Tomasz Max Kuczynski - European Floristry School

Tor Gundersen

Tor Gundersen, floral designer and international teacher from Norway, has a wealth of experience and has participated in numerous national and international competitions. He is a five-time Oslo champion, competed in the World Cup in Japan, and became European champion in 1995. He was head designer for the Royal Wedding of Prince Haakon of Norway.

Tor Gundersen - European Floristry School

Tor’s workshop at the EFS focused on colour philosophy, sustainability, and playing with classic forms in a new way. "It’s not so much based on step-by-step teaching, it’s more about opening their eyes to other possibilities and materials". He selects flowers based on the idea he’d like to emphasise and what is correct for the work, instead of personal preference. For florists that are just starting out, he advises mastering the basics and learning how to condition the materials correctly. That will provide a strong foundation to build from. Tor praised the quality of our Gypsophila Xlence®, which is characterised by its big white flowers and sturdy stems.

Meeting talented florists

The European Floristry School is for professional florists who want to be inspired by incredible floral designers from around the world, hone their skills and connect with their peers. The participants were a diverse group of talented individuals of all ages and career stages. We were lucky to connect and speak with many of them about our shared passion for flowers. We also visited the beautiful floristry shop Sarah Horne Botanicals in Leamington Spa.

Behind the scenes - Flower crown
Anja Norris - Norris Floristry

Anja Norris from Norris Floristry in Glossop attends at least one training session per year. "Inspiration, picking up new techniques and networking. Seeing things that I can take back. It’s like a retreat, like going on a spa break for florists." She believes continuous learning is crucial for staying inspired and elevating the floral industry as a whole.

Kirsty Noble, World Skills gold medallist 2023 and RHS Chelsea 2023 silver medallist, was one of the youngest participants and is about to open her own flower shop in Sheffield. She left bursting with ideas she'd like to incorporate in her own business. "The professional development you gain from it is so beneficial to you and your business. It will widen your perspective from the little bubble we create when we work in our own areas, I couldn't recommend it enough!" We're excited to see where Kirsty's floral journey takes her in the next few years!

Our own Helena van Achterberg, Marketing & Communication, gave a presentation about Marginpar to each of the three course groups, telling the story behind our flowers, explaining our sustainability journey and answering questions from the audience. Most participants had already heard of Marginpar. We received a lot of positive feedback regarding our flowers. Participants praised their quality, unique beauty and longevity.

Helena - Marginpar presentation
Tomasz Max Kuczyński - Teaching
Clematis Star River - Bouquet
Tor Gundersen - Teaching
Bouquets - Backstage
Participants - In class
Pirjo Koppi - Teaching

Shared experiences

Our thanks go out to the BFA, floral designers and talented participants for welcoming us into their world!

The talent, enthusiasm, and creativity of the designers, participants, and organisers were truly amazing to witness. But what really stood out to us was the spirit of positivity and kindness. We saw a group of florists that support each other, build each other up and share in each others’s successes. That is what really makes a difference, to be part of a community of likeminded passionate people. We left feeling inspired and delighted to have made many new acquaintances. We highly recommend the European Floristry School to anyone seeking inspiration, eager to continue learning, and wanting to connect with other florists.

Visit the BFA website to learn more about their mission and upcoming events.