Covent Garden is blossoming with flowers this summer in honour of Covent Garden in Bloom 2018, running from 19th May until 24th June. We invited fellow bookworms Katie Smyth and Terri Chandler, the ladies behind WORM London, to create a botanical installation for our windows. The result is even more beautiful than we could have asked for - textural explosions of cotton, gypsophila, palm leaves, luffa, and other things we can't pronounce the names of. We managed to have a quick chat with them whilst they made our window arrangements.
How did you become florists? Do you both have formal floral training?
T: Yes? Kind of? We did a Level 1, which is basic floristry training - how to treat flowers and create basic arrangements. We did a course where you can bring your own flowers - a lot of the formal courses supply you with flowers that aren't really to our tastes. We don't really work with red roses and yellow tulips. Being able to bring our own flowers to the class allowed us to explore our own style.
K: We already had a bit of our own style, we just wanted to make sure we weren't winging it. We both came from creative backgrounds, so that gave us a lot of training too. Terri was an actress and I was a fashion and interior stylist. I studied set design at university, so we'd both done various jobs over the years that helped with our approach to floristry.
When did you decide to start WORM?
T: Two years ago. We both felt a bit at a loss with our jobs, a bit underwhelmed. We knew that with getting older and potentially having families we didn't want to have to opt out of work, which unfortunately a lot of women have to do. We decided to create an outlet for ourselves that life stage came around, to create something that's ours.
K: We didn't know each other very well but were just talking, and decided we would work well together. We'd both worked for other people and had quite a strong work ethic!
What made you decide to work with wild flowers?
T: We're very inspired by the plants that we both grew up around in the south of Ireland - the flowers we found in our gardens and near the sea, plants in their natural environments.
K: We want it to feel like it's been picked from a garden. We try to keep everything seasonal as well. We take on quite a lot of jobs that are creative, and of course sometimes we can't use wild flowers because of the brief.
What's the biggest job you've ever done?
T: For mother's day this year we teamed up with advertising agency Mother and charity Maternity Action. Maternity Action had released some statistics on how many women lose their jobs unfairly every year as a result of being pregnant. It's 54,000 women every year. We created a huge sphere of 54,000 white carnations, and installed it outside the Mayor's office. One for every mother.
How did you count 54,000?
K: We had to rely on the guys supplying them from the flower market. Total trust! We brought a lot of volunteers to install the flowers.
T: The next day all of the flowers were sent to MPs to bring attention to the cause. Besides that, another big job we did was for British fashion designer Erdem - we filled the Freemasons Hall with flower meadows and made 800 posies for the guests. There were a lot of sleepless nights!
What's been your favourite job?
T: We really like conceptual jobs - we did a job with a stylist doing a project around menstrual cycles. We each made flower arrangements to represent how we felt at each stage of our periods. Both of our arrangements were so different!
K: We learnt so much about each other! It was a definite discussion-starter. Our favourite jobs are the conceptual ones, and collaborations where there's a bit more thought behind it. A lot of the stuff we do is so quick and transient, just lasting a few hours - it's nice to make something with longevity.
What was your the inspiration for the BN windows?
T: The inspiration comes from cotton, which your acetate is derived from. We needed to make something that lasts, so we dried out leaves and foliage to represent the textures in your acetates, and colours to complement the interior of your Covent Garden store.
K: We wanted to make the colour palette more muted, and create a textural cotton cloud sculpture. What do you think?
Stop by our boutique at 29 Henrietta Street to see the installation in person.
For more information on their work, visit the WORM London website.