ax van de Sluis & Hanneke Frankema, both Dutch flower art champions at some point in their careers, joined forces for an amazing show in Las Vegas, America. The show 'Evolution of Shapes' was given during the AIFD symposium 'Roots'. With this show, AIFD, which stands for 'American Institute of Floral Design', gave its members a glimpse into the special creative minds of Hanneke and Max.
It was not the duo's first time on stage together and it showed. Completely at ease, they told the 800 florists present, plus everyone who watched the live stream, what their thoughts were behind the ten designs on stage. They did so with verve, humour and technical finesse.
Marginpar, as one of the flower sponsors of the symposium, was there and we really enjoyed ourselves. But we also learned a lot. Max and Hanneke did not only show what they had made, but also how and why, and how you can benefit from it as a florist.
Hanneke: "Our designs are deliberately large. Of course, as a florist, you probably won’t sell them easily. But you can use them to decorate your shop and to show off your skills, and this will attract attention and customers. Max: "It is also important to think about recycling. We pay a lot of attention to the construction. It takes time, but once you have those constructions you can use them more than once, and sell them several times."
Hanneke, who got the nickname 'Iron Lady' because of her love of wire, casually twists some aluminium frames on stage while talking. Hanneke: "I call these Netflix chores. These days I do this without thinking, while sitting on the couch. The frames are made of shiny wire or rustic wire, I deliberately don't mix them. Max is also a fan of wire: "Why make a foam base that you then have to cover all over again? That's a waste of time! You can show off nice wire work, it saves time and you often need fewer flowers to create something really special. And the wire also helps to keep the flowers in the right place. It’s a win-win. Straight lines are almost non-existent in the couple's designs. Consciously. Max: "You hardly ever see any really straight lines in nature. Even bamboo still has a slight curve.”
We will take you through some of their designs.
The show is called 'Evolution of Shapes' and that is exactly what we saw. Starting with a flat circle, the designs transform into drops, globes, rings and other evolutions of the circle.
This is where it all starts: the circle. And Hanneke's signature is visible right from the start. Her works are easily recognisable among those of others by the special frame work and choice of flowers. In this flat circle, we see the characteristic homemade metal leaves. Hanneke: "Those shiny leaves make a design extra interesting. I use different kinds; leaves I buy but also leaves I make myself."
Max: "This design is big, a showpiece, too big for regular sales. But perfect as a photo opportunity, at weddings. Or as a decor in the window of a flower shop. The ring contains flowers that dry beautifully, such as Craspedia, Pampas, Clematis Amazing® Kibo and Limonium. The other flowers are glued on with special glue. You can also add water tubes for the fresh flowers. The design lasts a long time, and by changing the fresh flowers you can also make adjustments to the theme and colour. Hanneke: "This is really a showpiece, it allows you to show off your technical skills as a florist."
The ring is made up of several layers, creating depth. Not only the front is beautiful, the back is beautifully styled as well. That is also something that keeps coming back in these designs, it is completed to perfection from every angle.
This fan is made of peacock feathers, the small kind, not the big one with the eyes. It emphasises the elegant arch of the feathers and the hues with the purple Gloriosa from the Fifty Shades mix. Max: "We suddenly saw that purple Gloriosa in the Gloriosa mix. It goes very well with the colour of the feathers. I like the open spaces. Not to fill everything with flowers, keep it transparent. The water tubes are there, but they are hidden in a nice way." Hanneke: "You can see that we remove all the leaves from the flowers. We do that for two reasons: the stems are an important part of the line pattern and we want to show them. The leaves are a distraction. The second reason is that the flowers without leaves stay fresh longer. The leaves draw a lot of water and energy.”
At Max’ workshop, the students also got to work with the fan. As a basis, Max suggests using Limonium in addition to the frame of wire and Pampas. Max: "The branching of the Limonium provides structure, you can align flowers to it. It also adds colour. With the addition of Gloriosa, you really create something, everyone loves Gloriosa. The beauty of such a fan is that you can make it as big or small as you like, and you can choose how many details you want to show. Personally, I love details."
Beautiful in its simplicity. Although, simplicity? Seen up close, this piece turns out to be intriguingly complicated. The mesh ball is surrounded by steel grass, and topped off with Clematis Amazing® Vienna and soft bunny tails. Mind you, Clematis always needs water, and even though you can't see them, Vienna is neatly tucked away in water tubes. Hanneke: "Make sure this becomes a whole, and not a construction with flowers on top."
With this design, you can clearly see the effect of the circles. There are at least 100 of them. The repeating pattern gives peace, despite the many small details. During the show we saw that this 'bouquet' is not only very beautiful from the front, but also beautifully finished at the back.
This 'roll' of flowers for the bride is a shiny eyecatcher. The base is a cardboard tube that Hanneke has varnished many times, inside and out. Once the base is finished, she surrounds the tube with shiny wire and accents of shiny leaves. If you look closely at Hanneke's designs, you will see these special details recurring regularly. The flowers are carefully constructed to create a waterfall of Craspedia, Gloriosa, Limonium, and Clematis Amazing® Sevilla. The soft balls you see are the dried fluff of the Clematis Amazing® Kibo. As a finishing touch, the wire ends are topped with Hypericum berries.
This double-sided drop is made from rustic wire. The work is over 2.5 metres high and consists of a sturdy rod in the middle, poured into a base of concrete. As soon as this is solid, Hanneke starts building. Luckily, she gets help; 'assistant' and friend of the show Per Benjamin carefully inserts the flowers into the design. The choice was made for bright and cheerful colours in pink, yellow and orange, complemented by dark red shades such as Daucus Carota 'Dara'.
In the picture, this bouquet already looks big, but we can tell you: if you stand next to it, this design is really huge. Again, a solid base of wire mesh that is pleasing to the eye, and shiny metal accents. Extra touch: the base of crafted wood in the middle of the bouquet. In the close ups you can see how the wire is strengthened: by fusing two wires together using a drill, the wire is not only twice as strong, but it also gives a particularly beautiful woven effect. Flowers are processed in different ways: with glue (one of the favourite ways for long-lasting flowers) and by inserting the stems through the frame, so that this design can be placed in a vase.
Drop - bridal design
Next, Max shows a wearable drop design, which moves with the bride as she walks. The frame consists of a twisted metal work, which is filled with layers and layers of flowers. Something which Hanneke and Max often do, and what can be seen here, is using the technique 'deconstruction'. Plants and flowers are taken apart, elements are taken out and reused in interesting ways that make you look twice. See, for example, the loose Hypericum berries at the ends of the frames. We also see Jatropha, Gloriosa, Clematis, Craspedia and various Phalaenopsis.
Fireworks for events
With these trees of aluminium wire, you immediately make a statement. These kinds of tall arrangements are ideal for events, according to Max and Hanneke: "Even with a few flowers, you get a great effect. The base can be reused. It takes time to make, a base of wire poured into a sturdy block of concrete. But afterwards, by reusing it, you actually gain time. Power colours were chosen for this sculpture, to create a real firework display. The Craspedia and Hypericum are glued on, and complemented with a mix of Gloriosa and pink Clematis (Amazing® Kyiv).
Photos: Nico Alsemgeest
Design: Hanneke Frankema & Max van de Sluis
Location: AIFD Symposium Roots 2022 in Las Vegas
Max and Hanneke's designs were full of Marginpar flowers with a strikingly cheerful colour palette. We saw Craspedia Paintball™ Pop, Clematis Amazing®, Gloriosa Fifty Shades (mix), Limonium, Jatropha, Hypericum and many others.
Would you like to read more about the flowers that Hanneke and Max used? Take a look at our assortment: