A few days back, I received a gift in my mail that was wonderfully wrapped. It got me thinking about how important design and decoration is to the art of presenting anything. For instance, when I attend fashion shows and designer displays, I tend to get mesmerized by the interiors of the venue and how they have been styled. And why not? Interior decoration is an art unto itself, and when I spoke with Zita Elze, a leading floral artist and design consultant, my fascination with her work increased manifold.
I had first been exposed to Zita Elze’s work at the Aashni and Co. Wedding Show in Dorchester last month, where she had been responsible for the interior theme decoration. I remember how exquisitely she had styled the venue interiors, bringing surreal beauty to life with the enchanted woodland theme.
Destiny is a strange thing though. Like many highly accomplished artists, Zita got into the field of floral interior decoration just by chance. She hadn’t planned on this as a professional pursuit but was greatly inspired on visiting London some 25 years back, when she came across Maids of Honor, a historical Tea House, close to Kew Gardens. She smiles as she remembers thinking how wonderful it would be to work and live in this beautiful place and city. And that’s where the seeds of her decoration dreams were sown. It’s only fitting that when she came back to London almost 10 years later, she visited the Kew again, fell in love an empty florist shop and simply couldn’t resist what destiny was offering!
Today, Zita is an internationally acclaimed floral decorator, interior designer and design consultant. Ask her how she achieved so much in such little time and she gives partial credit to her formal education, including a full course in interior design and another in garden design as well as an intensive course in floristry techniques. It is this solid foundation that her natural talent and creativity surmount, allowing her to produce her enthralling masterpieces.
I came to realize though, the journey couldn’t have been easy. Zita admits that when she first took up interior designing seriously, it was all rather tough and demanding. She worked hard, put in long hours and invested mind, body and soul in making her enterprise a success. 15 years down the line, all that hard work is starting to pay off. She is now more settled and relaxed, with less taxing schedules and the privilege of being more selective about the work she undertakes.
“What inspires you?”, I ask and she thinks for a while before answering. She then confesses that being a keen observer has always bolstered her capabilities. She lived in many places including Paris, Germany, Italy and other unique cities and has travelled far and wide across the world. Her exposure to numerous cultures and their art-and-design sensibilities has contributed to the formulation of her own unique style. Her work reflects a nuanced understanding of human nature, art and beauty. “Inspiration is everywhere”, she says, “All around us. You just have to seek and harness it intelligently, and that comes to me instinctively.” Clearly, Zita doesn’t struggle with ideation or creative exhaustion much; her struggles are of a different kind.
Her biggest problem is finding talented and dedicated staff to work with, which isn’t always easy. Maybe that’s what motivated her to start a design academy where she conducts numerous courses in floral design, of different durations and requisite skill levels. She likes to give students individual attention and thus classes are small. But her protégés look forward to her masterclasses very eagerly, and that convinces her that she is doing something right.
I laugh as she says this for this is something of an understatement. She’s not “doing something right”; she is excelling in her field and getting international recognition for it. Apart from high-brow fashion and corporate functions, she has also undertaken decoration for public events such as the White Gallery Catwalk Show, Chelsea Flower Show, British Flowers Week, Music on Fire festivals, the Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch and more. She has even designed the sets for mini-TV series Great Expectations. And when your work’s on TV, you know you’ve made your mark for sure.
Client reviews reveal that Zita’s ability to create something unique each time is what draws them to her. She understands their needs and delivers accordingly, combining their requirements with her imaginative genius. What I find to be most striking about her work is an aura of fragility about her designs, as if they are too beautiful to be true – you don’t want to shatter the illusion. My personal favourite is her Living Embroidery collection of elaborate gowns that are adorned with fresh flowers, berries and other natural materials. These matchless dresses are right out of a fairytale, such is their enchanting quality. You too can have a look at her work for a visual treat of epic proportions. But I’ll have you know, the pictures don’t do justice to her fab creations – seeing them live is the real thing!