Why Dried Flowers Aren't Just For Grandma

When I mention dried flowers, what do you picture? Be honest now, are those memories of dried roses that gathered dust on your grandmother’s bookshelf creeping to mind? Or, perhaps you’ve seen a bit of a revival happening on Instagram with that sweet whimsical look? Whatever idea you have about dried flora, I am certain that you’re going to be wowed by the work of Mark Antonia, who is pushing the boundaries of dried floral art! Plus, had you been at Domotex this weekend with Holly and her panel of professional bloggers, you'd have heard them all unanimously agree in their trend talk show that past season (also known as dead/dried) flowers are a micro trend at the moment.

Makers | Mark Antonia Dried Flora-9.jpg

Anyway, first it's me, Mel here and as you know, I'm a big fan of design. What has touched me the most the past few years in the industry, would have to be the momentum that the maker movement has had. I’d say that the surge in this area no doubt goes hand-in-hand with the slow-living phenomenon. I admit I do yoga, and I’m really working on being more in the moment rather than thinking about next week (anyone with me here?), but most of all, I’m beginning to be aware of the small pleasures in my day-to-day life.

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One standout for me is enjoying my morning cup of tea in an earthy mug that was made by a favorite ceramicist of mine. When I look around my apartment, I can find other examples of that simple joy that a handmade, or small-scale object brings me. With that in mind, makers from Sweden, and when the opportunity arises, from abroad, will be my focus here on decor8 for all of 2018 and I hope you will enjoy discovering them here with me.

Mark Antonia Dried Flora

So, back to dried flowers. When I stepped into the Mark Antonia studio, in Auckland, New Zealand, I was naturally expecting to see a lot of dried flowers; but I never imagined the sheer volume that was actually there. The raw plywood was the perfect backdrop to display the array of drying branches and flowers that will soon see Antonia’s magic hand.

Mark Antonia Dried Flora

Antonia De Vere works beside, Mark Seeney, (hence the namesake) whom she met at art school. The couple combines their talents with floristry and hand-poured candles by Antonia, along with custom industrial furniture, homeware, and retail fit-outs by Mark.

Mark Antonia Dried Flora
Mark Antonia Dried Flora

I had been a fan of her custom arrangements for some time after admiring them in some of the coolest stores and commercial spaces in Auckland. I even owned a small one myself. There was just one small detail that I failed to notice in her minimalist creations; that all this time, she has actually been recreating Mother Nature. I'll explain what I mean.

Mark Antonia Dried Flora
Mark Antonia Dried Flora

The idea struck Antonia when she saw the waste left behind from her fresh floral commissions. She experimented with the scrap flora she dried, until she found her signature minimalist style, treating each consignment as a sculpture. Watching her at work is simply mesmerizing.

Mark Antonia Dried Flora

Each leaf, berry or bud is painstakingly clipped and glued onto a twig and done to such meticulous perfection, that you might be mistaken, like I was, and assume that the variety already existed in nature. That's what I meant when I said earlier that she is, "recreating Mother Nature".

Mark Antonia Dried Flora
Mark Antonia Dried Flora

Antonia has taken dried floral art to a whole new level, suggesting an almost Japanese Ikebana feel. Not only do these arrangements look stunning on display, the bonus is that it stays looking like that for a long time to come.

Have a great day everyone and I’ll see you back here next month. – Mel

(Photography and Text: Mel Chesneau except for bottom grid by Mark Antonia)