In the floral scenographies of Marianne Guedin: ephemerality and sensoriality
Marianne Guedin plays with fresh flowers and creates scenographies where the art of botany and design meet. The artist and florist craftsman imagines decors on a human scale and, for one evening, designs compositions of supernatural flowers with eminently sensory textures, scents and colors. In her studio in Montmartre, Paris, she researches, experiments and creates.
You were a student of Decorative Arts in Paris. What lessons have you inherited?
I spent 4 years at the Arts Déco in Paris, in a school that offers a rich and multidisciplinary training. I have learned to adapt to each creative subject and to compose in volume, playing with colors and materials, while cultivating great freedom of expression. At the same time, my training as a designer allowed me to work in a team. I also met some very dear and faithful friends there.
At what point in your practice did flowers take on such importance?
I became a flower seller in Montmartre during my studies at the Decorative Arts. I have always moved forward with these two passions: design and plants. In 2012, I was given a large set in the South of France, then the other projects followed one another. I was finally able to compose a vegetal decor, like an artistic installation.
Your artistic practice gives a lot of importance to plant scenographies, especially in the world of fashion, such as the Off-White or Ralph & Russo fashion show. Why does plant scenography fit so well to these universes?
The flowers, in quantity, are breathtaking, their colors and their scents touch us all. They move us. Flowers can also convey a brand message like Off-White. The designer wanted to represent a strong symbol: a field of white flowers, like a field of cotton. Ralph & Russo asked me for a forest, as a setting for their silhouettes. I then composed a dreamlike setting over 2,000 m2.
How do you create each of these projects?
It’s always a team effort. The designer has wishes, intentions and a collection to illustrate. Production assembles a team and finds solutions with us. In dealing with plants, I must stay true to the designer’s desires and the production budget, while doing my best to dazzle the guests. I feed on artistic references. For each project I assemble a moodboard, like a designer assembles his collection. I look for the elements of the decor in botanical books, at the flower market, I ask for old-fashioned colors, old varieties, like a chef cooking forgotten vegetables. Then, I draw the plant installation. I make samples in my workshop in Montmartre and I anticipate as much as possible to avoid surprises on D-Day.
Which flowers do you like to work with the most?
All flowers inspire me and I love to amaze by mixing them: sophisticated flowers with weeds, delicate roses with wild clematis. I compose them to surprise the world. Depending on the subject, I offer different plants. If I am called upon, it is also to have selections out of the ordinary. I like carnations for their scents, chrysanthemums for their designs, anemones for their endless shades, eucharis for their silhouettes, mimosa for the light it gives off, dark foliage because they highlight the ranunculus powdered, the castor leaf to welcome the Dahlia pompon… I like to play tone on tone with birch bark, licken and tillandsia lianas. I love the sheer size of grasses on a table. I love the super-natural green fern leaves on a carpet of moss…
What are the challenges you deal with ?
Plant scenographies are most often ephemeral. Flowers are alive and do not bloom at the same rate. I have to anticipate their outbreaks so that when the time comes, they all look great at the same time. With my team, we take care of them all one by one, each stem is stripped, thorned, cut or pinched. We must work quickly and delicately. At the time of installation we coordinate all the trades. This is a choreography to be carried out together.
Marianne Guedin’s website: www.guedin.paris
© Marianne Guedin