Outside Rebecca Grace’s Natural Art studio, peak-hour traffic nudges along grey flooded highways on a wet, windy Perth morning. But inside, spring is in full swing as roses, tulips and peonies are snipped into delicate arrangements around a battalion of shelves piled high with furniture, vintage vases and other knick-knacks.
It may be just 8.30am, but Rebecca and her team of designers have been up for hours. “People really have no idea how hardcore this industry is,” says Rebecca, “but I love making things, and as crazy as it sounds, I kind of like the hard work, too. I love being given a huge empty marquee and creating an amazing, full, complete space. It’s a really great feeling.”
Hard work in Rebecca’s world means 90-hour weeks punctuated with visits to the local flower markets, large events that often run well into the evening, client consultations, quotes, book work and occasional travel. Somewhere
in between all this, she’s also mother to Max, nine, and seven-year-old Eliza.
It was 20 years ago that Rebecca started working for local floral doyenne, Angela Broad. Rebecca was a student at the time, studying media, design and photography. “I started getting into floristry and photography at the same time, but the floristry seemed to be the thing that was more consistent,” she explains. “Once Angela left the business, I started working from home. Then I had children, so although it was a little bit crazy at times, working from home really suited me.”
Recently, Rebecca moved Natural Art into a new workshop in Claremont. It’s from here that she consults with clients and creates dreamy floral wonderlands that often go way beyond flowers to include furniture and decor. On Natural Art’s list of clients are fashion boutiques and corporate events, but it’s been the private parties and weddings that have really inspired her. “We recently did a high tea where we sourced teacups, vintage vases and quaint furniture pieces to make the event unique,” she says.
Then there was the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to style a wedding at the exclusive El Questro Homestead in Western Australia. “The whole process was so fulfilling – we had to organise and visualise the event, then truck all the stuff we needed up there, which took three weeks, then at the end of it all, we had to truck everything back again!” she says. “It was difficult, but it ended up being just so incredible; casual, relaxed and very intimate.”
Despite two decades in the business, Rebecca still gives every project her all. “It doesn’t matter whose wedding it is, or what the budget,” she says. “I still have the enthusiasm to make it look as wonderful as possible.”
Rebecca’s top 3 tips for DIY flower arranging
1. When choosing a vase, look outside the square. “Anything at home could be a possible vase – a jug, an old trinket that was once your grandmother’s, bottles… Re-look at everything in your cupboard.”
2. Keep it narrow. The lower the height of the vase and the wider the neck, the harder the vessel is to arrange in. “I find a clean, narrow-necked bottle with just one stem in it can look fantastic and it keeps the cost of the arrangement down, too.”
3. Be safe and simple. “I prefer things that aren’t too complicated. Mixing flowers can look cheap and is very hard to do well. When I’m arranging for myself, I never mix orchids with say, roses. I keep it simple and clean by sticking to just one variety.”
To contact Natural Art, call (08) 9284 2772 or visit naturalartflowers.com.au.