Denmans Garden collaborates in a variety of ways with local artists and makers, be that through hosting events and workshops, showcasing work in the gift shop and garden or through providing inspiration and materials.
As part of an occasional series, we interview some of these artists in our ‘Meet the Maker’ blog to find out more about their work and inspiration.
Anita Li of Floral Art & Design is holding a workshop and demonstration in Floral Art at Denmans Garden later this month. Anita is an internationally accredited floral designer, who with her colleague Florence Ling established an exceptional floral education and design service in Hong Kong in 2019 which they have now brought over to the UK.
When I was young, I received many expensive bouquets from my admirers. However, I always found those bouquets to be unattractive and would simply discard them. It wasn’t until my wedding in 2012 that I realized the true beauty and creativity that floral design could possess, thanks to the incredible work of the floral designer. This realization sparked a deep passion within me, almost like a calling, and in 2013, I started to learn floral design.
Despite holding the position of Vice President of Marketing at a Swedish company and having to dedicate a half of my time to business trips, I made it a priority to devote all of my personal time to learning floral design. I volunteered and accompanied my teacher to overseas competitions, exhibitions, and demonstrations, constantly seeking to broaden my understanding of different aspects of the art.
In 2017, I passed my professional examination in Seattle, which led to me being accredited as a professional floral designer by AIFD in Washington D.C. in 2018. The following year, in 2019, I decided to leave my marketing career behind and, alongside my business partner Florence, established A&F Floral Art and Design. We were both accredited as AIFD floral evaluator/judges and became AIFD Education Partners in 2021. As such, we have the authority to grant qualified students the internationally recognized Certified Floral Designer (CFD) designation bestowed by AIFD®.
In 2022, I made the decision to move from Hong Kong to the UK, where I have worked as a florist at The Dorchester Hotel for seven months. Recently, I also launched A&F Floral Art and Design here in the UK.
I find inspiration in every aspect of daily life, embracing a wide range of sources. Allow me to share an example: I recently designed seven flowers-to-wear for the A&F 2024 charity calendar photoshoot. Each design was influenced by various artistic elements, including Flemish paintings, the sculpture of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a couture piece by Robert Wun for Lauryn Hill, Schiaparelli’s runway shows, the enchanting essence of Victorian gothic, the allure of fairy tales, and even the beauty of parametric architecture. This demonstrates the vast range of inspirations that seemingly unrelated elements can offer to floral design.
As a frequent traveller, I have been fortunate enough to explore different parts of the world and witness the breath taking beauty of natural landscapes. These experiences have become a significant wellspring of inspiration for me. I am especially captivated by the ever-changing seasons and the kaleidoscope of colours and textures found in nature during these transitions. Just last week, I had the pleasure of utilizing chestnut branches to create a flower arrangement for a Michelin-starred restaurant. It was a delightful way to infuse a touch of the current season into an indoor space, bringing the essence of nature indoors.
Artistic Floral Design 2020 is a beautiful book I was involved with – a collaboration between the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) and WildFlower Media, presenting the exquisite floral designs of 24 talented AIFD-accredited botanical artists. From a vast collection of entries, this treasury showcases the diverse artistic visions of these designers, providing readers with inspirations and a sense of pure satisfaction and bliss.
Among the pieces featured in the book, one holds a special place in my heart – the “Flower Shower” umbrella. This creation is actually a variation of another piece that earned me the prestigious bronze award in the “Wedding” category of Fusion Flowers International Designer of the Year 2019. While the technique remains the same, the form is entirely different. The umbrella boasts a clean structure intricately woven with 24 pieces of wire, each supporting the other without the need for any visible ties or mechanics. This design forms a flower shape that gracefully frames the visage of the person modelling it. Not only is it a stunning piece on its own, but as a flower-to-wear, it accentuates the beauty of its wearer and seamlessly complements the ensemble.
I find it truly invigorating that floral design allows for such versatility in my work environment. Whether it’s my own home, a client’s residence, a photography studio, a hotel, a shop, or a restaurant, each day presents a unique setting for my creative endeavours. What truly captivates me about floral design is the endless variety it offers. Every project is a chance to tailor my designs to the specific desires of each client. This constant customization of floral arrangements to suit diverse business needs and situations opens up a world of possibilities. It allows me to explore the full potential of floral materials, be they fresh or dried, real or artificial, in their original form or deconstructed.
My work can take me to fascinating locations. One day, I might find myself meticulously calculating the usage and procuring floral materials for shop installation in Middle East countries, catering to the need of a skin care brand. On another occasion, I could be crafting a piece for a photography gallery. The following day might see me spray painting a floral structure in a garage, tailored for a luxurious clubhouse. And then there are the moments when I create flower arrangements on-site for exclusive private parties.
Coming from a multicultural background in Hong Kong, I bring a unique perspective to my demonstrations and workshops. Those who attend my event at Denmans can expect a refreshing departure from traditional English designs, as I incorporate a blend of techniques, forms, and materials from both Eastern and Western influences. This fusion of styles creates a harmonious and visually pleasing experience, where the classic meets the modern.
Sharing my genuine passion with others brings me pure joy. Witnessing students not only enjoying but also embracing what I teach is incredibly fulfilling. It is also a tremendous source of inspiration when exceptionally talented students propose their own creative ideas, allowing us to collaborate and bring those ideas to life together.
It’s serendipitous that I am seeking an opportunity to teach in a garden when Denmans Garden is also interested in hosting flower arranging workshops for its members and guests. I have always had a deep admiration for English gardens, as they are meant to be experienced up close rather than observed from afar. The immersive environment, surrounded by flourishing trees and plants, truly captivates me. Denmans Garden, in particular, possesses a unique home garden ambiance. Though meticulously planned and managed, it retains the intimate charm of a beloved garden tended by a passionate homeowner. It is a haven of relaxation, where one can easily spend an entire day indulging in leisurely activities such as reading or basking in the sun.
Personally, I find that travelling and immersing myself in a different environment, experiencing new sights and trying unfamiliar cuisines, truly helps me switch off and recharge. Having resided in this country for a year, I am actively striving to integrate myself further by building connections with more individuals and exploring locales. Naturally, I hold aspirations that people here will appreciate my ingenuity, admire my designs, and involve me in more projects.
Floral Art Demonstration and Workshop
Demonstration – Date: Oct 28, 2023 (Saturday) Time: 10:00-11:00
Step into the mesmerising world of autumnal blooms with the floral demonstration by renowned floral designer, Anita Li AIFD®, at Denmans Garden. Join her on a captivating journey as she unveils the secrets behind crafting floral arrangements that beautifully capture the essence of the season in a truly imaginative way. Immerse yourself in this floral experience and depart with newfound knowledge and boundless inspiration.
Workshop – Date: Oct 28, 2023 (Saturday) Time: 11:15-12:45
In the workshop with Anita you’ll learn the art of flower arranging and discover the unique ways to incorporate autumnal elements into your own stunning creations. From velvety dahlias to gradating vibrant foliage, the workshop will perfectly mirror the enchanting beauty of Denmans Garden in autumn.
You may choose to sign up either for the demonstration or the workshop or both. If you choose to sign up for both, the price of the demonstration would be deducted from that of the workshop, and it will cost just the same as the workshop itself.
Price: Demonstration only £10 / Demonstration and workshop £70 / Workshop only £70
More detail on this workshop and others at Denmans Garden can be found on our events page: https://www.denmans.org/events/
For more information about Anita and her work:
For more information, please contact Louise Campbell