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Flower girls

Flower girls

Spring has sprung, the birds and bees are a-hum and wedding season has begun. It’s the perfect time to celebrate the creatives who bring life to breathtaking floral designs.


Katja Kellhofer, Gloss Concept Floral Couture

Katja Kellhofer, a fashion stylist and makeup artist for many years, fell into floral design ‘by accident’. She’s done flowers for Hollywood stars and statesmen alike, and she always injects her creations with a high-fashion slant.



Katja Kellhofer


‘I love greenery and use a lot of plants in my designs as they add texture and form’ – Katja Kellhofer


Q: What are your favourite functions to do?

 A: Weddings – they’re so personal, and I love watching people’s faces as they walk into the venue. I remind them to remember the moment as it only comes round once. I also have a few big contracts and it’s always challenging to reinvent different looks and keep clients interested.


Q: What’s it like running your own business?

A: I launched 15 years ago. It was a slow start but quickly became popular as I had a great platform to begin with, starting in the fashion industry. There have been some challenges – owning your own business is hard and the money doesn’t always come in quickly. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.


Q: How would you define your style?

A: Contemporary but detailed; I like to add a modern spin and push the boundaries a bit. I always add foliage – especially carnivorous and air plants, which I have a passion for. I like to use different types of vessels too – wood, leather, metal and ceramic.


Q: What would your dream project be?

A: I’ve been very lucky and have done many amazing projects so far. I’ve done flowers for Charlize Theron and Nelson Mandela, and I’ve worked on many magazine shoots. I’m passionate about what I do and have a great love affair with it.


Q: What are the most memorable arrangements you’ve seen?

A: The sheer variety at the flower market in Sydney. Australia is so close to Asia that they have the best of both worlds: exotics, like the most amazing selection of orchids, and European flowers. I also have a great respect for the work of Jeff Leatham and Paula Pryke, and locally Otto de Jager and Franz Grabe.


Emma Frost, Supernatural Floral Design

While a schoolteacher, Emma Frost began experimenting with the flowers in her Barrydale garden before quitting her job and taking an internship at Flowers in the Foyer in Stellenbosch. She started her own business the following year.



Emma Frost


Q: You do mostly weddings. What’s the best part about working in this industry?

A: I love brainstorming with my clients to establish an aesthetic that’s true to them, and I love being part of such a ceremonious occasion.


Q: Where do you work from?

A: My home and studio in Walmer Estate, Cape Town. I often work there in the evenings in the warmer months, overlooking the harbour. I love to be outdoors in the fresh air, and it’s pretty convenient to have my tools downstairs and my fridge with chilled wine nearby.


Q: How would you define your design style?

A: Glamorous and quirky. I enjoy playing with different textures and colour combinations, creating looks that verge on far-out but cool enough to be acceptable to the general public.


Q: What’s your favourite interior space?

A: I’m always more drawn to the feeling of a room than the actual aesthetic of it, so while I wouldn’t describe myself as a religious person, I often find that I’m most drawn to churches or temples – places of worship. My two favourites are the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and the Greek Orthodox Church in Woodstock – such beautiful attention to detail.


Fennec Deuchar, Fox & Co

Born in New Zealand to a French mother and a South African father, Fennec Deuchar cites her transglobal heritage as a major influence in her creative aesthetic. Her first love was interiors, but a flower-arranging workshop gave her the impetus to change direction and start her own business.



Fennec Deuchar


‘My style is eclectic; I love mixing florals with vases and vessels of various shapes, colours, textures and from different periods of design. I also really enjoy bold use of colour’ – Fennec Deuchar


Q: What has it been like running your own business?

A: I started Fox & Co three years ago. I’ve wanted my own business since I was at school and the opportunity presented itself in 2012 so I leapt at the chance. Starting a business is a humbling experience and requires a lot of sacrifice, financial investment, forgone holidays and weekends, and a phone that’s never off – but I’ve been surprised at how quickly it has grown and I thoroughly enjoy the creative process of steering my own ship.


Q: You do mostly weddings. What do you love and find challenging about them?

A: I really enjoy the fact that each job has a fresh brief – the varying colours and flower varieties that come with different clients and seasons. There’s always something new and beautiful to look forward to. One of the more difficult aspects of doing weddings is the fact that people are under stress, so you have to exercise tact and diplomacy to make sure everyone involved is happy.


Q: Where do you work from?

A: Home in Rondebosch – in a converted garage with floor-to-ceiling shelving for all my vases and floristry supplies. It comes complete with our enormous ginger cat, Solid, who takes every opportunity to snooze among the flowers.


Q: What about your dream project?

A: I’d love to style some wild and overgrown floral arrangements for an intimate dinner in the Paris studio of artist Claire Basler. She paints murals of flowers in oils, and her studio is a converted school filled with her enormous paintings, which would make a magnificent backdrop.


Q: What’s your favourite interior space?

A: Le Mas Provencal restaurant in Eze village, close to Nice in France. The owner has created an incredible quirky indoor garden; there are moss-covered trees growing through the middle of the restaurant and the most spectacular array of flowers, vines and carnivorous plants hanging from the ceiling. It’s like Willy Wonka’s factory but for flower lovers.


Emely van Heesch-Smith, Boutique Florist

Working from her Parktown North home studio, Emely van Heesch-Smith is a self-confessed botanical hoarder who finds inspiration in nature, from seeds to pods to preserved leaves and moss.



Emely van Heesch


Q: How did you get into floral design?

A: While I was living in London, I did a floristry course and I loved it, so I found work as an apprentice to see what it was like to actually work in the industry. I slowly found my feet, learning from working with some of the most exclusive event florists.


Q: What types of functions do you do?

A: Currently, all my work is for the Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff. I was approached to join as an in-house florist after they saw a display of my wreaths at a Christmas market. I do all the daily arrangements, as well as some client functions, events and weddings – I enjoy portraying their messages through the use of floral design.


Q: How would you define your design style?

A: I use nature as a guide, from my collections of found specimens to an unusual flower. I use colour like paints – I don’t like to blob them, but rather make them seem like they melt into each other. Texture is my magic ingredient. I want the eye to catch on something in the design and wander quietly across the work.


Q: What does your creative process entail?

A: I start with a concept – my creativity is clearest in the middle of the night, and by morning I know what I’m going to do. My aim is always to offer an emotional experience when my clients see the flowers.


Marissa Pretorius, Opus Studio

Botanical florist Marissa Pretorius’s work can be seen in many of Cape Town’s coolest hangouts, where they do exactly that: hang out. Her Woodstock-based business, which launched the trend of suspended plantlife locally, specialises in events and sells products online.



Marissa Pretorius


Q: What is a botanical florist?

A: Botanical, by definition, refers to plants, and florist to a shop where you can purchase cut flowers or ornamental plants. We’re not a traditional florist in that at our shop you’ll find only a display of hanging plants and other projects we might be working on. As we launched our brand with kokedama (Japanese moss balls), we’re perceived as a plant studio and people come to us for any kind of plant-related design, from moss lettering, terrariums and wreaths to installations. But we do weddings and other larger floral projects too.


Q: What’s it been like launching and running your own business?

A: I resigned from my fulltime job in advertising in 2010, and while working as a freelance designer, I realised that I wanted to start my own business and open a shop. Opus was launched in 2011, when I operated from a small studio on Fridays and Saturdays. For the first three years I was working four days a week as a graphic designer and seven days a week building Opus, and it eventually dawned on me that to grow I had to be 100 per cent in it.


Q: Tell us more about your kokedama products.

A: When I decided to go into floristry, I did some research and stumbled on a tutorial on how to make your own kokedama – at the time very few people were experimenting with this form of plant-making. Coming from a design background, it was very important to me to not just copy other people’s work, but rather to make it my own and find my own style. We went through a lot of trial and error to get where we are, and this is evident in the quality of our product. The service we offer is also very personal; there’s usually a conversation or site visit before we suggest plants for a specific environment.


Q: How would you define your design style?

A: I think style is something that constantly grows and evolves according to seasons and trends. A flower or a plant is already a design in itself. We take it, alter and arrange it to create a desired effect.


Florists’ Spring Picks

  • Katja: ‘Anthuriums’
  • Emma: ‘Pincushions and waratahs’
  • Fennec: ‘Poppies and ranunculus’
  • Emely: ‘Fresh new leaves’
  • Marissa: ‘Blossoms from any fruit tree’


‘The trend of hanging plants has gone from a high-end niche product to a more commercially available one offering an alternative ‘‘planter’’. I think it will stay with us for a while’ – Marissa Pretorius


Contact Details


Text: Genevieve Putter
Photographs: Karl Rogers, Annalize Nel


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