The eminent florist Philip Hammond, tells Zak Smith about the ‘transient’ but powerful form of artistry he relishes.
In the the world of luxury living, be it a Kensington townhouse, Ferretti yacht or Mayfair hotel suite, there is one constant, never demanding too much attention, but ever-present, beautifying its surroundings and adding a touch of personality: flowers.
Often overlooked, but by the discerning few quietly admired, good flowers can make a room complete, add character to a wedding and make a home feel special, and no one knows this better than Philip Hammond, head florist at The Dorchester.
‘The famous urns at the front of The Promenade at The Dorchester are a significant weekly investment by the hotel,' he says. 'They make such an impression when you arrive at the hotel and have helped build our reputation for great floristry. Flowers do this, they make an impression.’
Hammond took the traditional path to becoming a florist, starting local and working up to major international clients. As one of the UK’s brightest up and coming names in the world of floristry, he has kitted out private jets, sent arrangements to celebrities and helped define the Dorchester’s floral aesthetic. The hotel clearly provides the perfect canvas for an adventurous florist to work his magic.
‘The Dorchester is one of the world’s best hotels, and I’m so lucky to be able to work with its wonderful interiors, creating displays with a gentle nod to the tradition and heritage of the hotel.’
So what about flowers makes a room go from ordinary to special?
‘I like to compliment the room I’m working in with my flowers; they should make a statement but at the same time be elegant and understated. It’s all about knowing when enough is enough,' he says. 'Flowers can also transcend mere decoration – for example: flowers are often the most personal element of a wedding or event, particularly the choice for a bouquet - they communicate a truly special message.’
The work of a good florist can be spectacular but can their bouquets and wedding displays actually be considered art in their own right?
‘I think that's probably a question for those enjoying our floristry! If it is art then it is fleeting and transient, as flowers unfortunately don’t last forever. It is certainly a skill knowing how to choose the right colours and arrangement for different people and occasions, and reflecting current trends. At the moment, the latest trend is muted colours, with many of our clients looking to incorporate British flowers. I was selected as one of the designers for British Flowers Week this year –I’m proud to support British flowers where possible.’
After speaking with Hammond, it is evident that, irrespective of his passion for floristry, flowers have immense power aesthetically and emotionally. Their intentional use can shape our environment far more than most pay attention too. So what does a florist hope to achieve with their arrangements?
‘To make the client smile when they see the flowers, that’s the ultimate approval that you got it right.’