It is midday on a rare sunny Saturday in April and inside a former print works in Shoreditch, east London, a bit of magic is being worked. Surrounded by plastic tubs filled with armfuls of plump peach carnations, candy-pink begonias, creamy freesias and pungent herbs, an assorted bunch of women – hipster types, cool young mums, shy teenagers – sit huddled over a table, all absorbed in twisting together bright combinations of blooms to make floral crowns, under the watchful eyes of two young women with flowers in their hair. Ellie Jauncey and Anna Day may not have a shop, but they have a loyal following. Together they are the Flower Appreciation Society, which specialises in flower arrangements that appear to have been thrust together haphazardly yet contrive to create a romantic whole. ‘Our style is very wild and loose,’ Day explains, showing me how to secure a wayward carnation to a wire headband as part of a workshop in collaboration with the design studio Patternity . ‘It’s about letting the flowers be, appreciating their beauty by arranging them in a lovely informal way.’
The fashion world has recently woken to the informal appeal of their arrangements. Jauncey and Day have festooned guests with blooms at events for Toast and Anthropologie, created arrangements for Roger Vivier and Marc Jacobs, and made sets for Miss Vogue , Marie Claire and Numero magazines.
The Flower Appreciation Society began life in 2009, dreamt up by Jauncey and Day from behind the bar at the Scolt Head pub in De Beauvoir, east London. Both were passionate about flowers, but neither had thought seriously about a career in floristry. Day, 31, had completed a course in flower arranging after finishing her degree in illustration at the University of Brighton, but was training to be a midwife. Jauncey, 30, studied textiles at Manchester and trained with her mother, a florist, after being made redundant from her job as a textile buyer the previous year.
Both were pulling pints to earn a bit of cash, and, on discovering a shared love of flowers, persuaded their boss to let them make posies for the bar once a week. Gradually they drummed up customers – and commandeered the pub. ‘On a Friday night there would be people sitting there having their drinks, and we’d be doing flowers. We used to put them in the loo because it was the coldest place. We just put up a sign saying they were out of order!’ Jauncey says, laughing.
They now occupy a studio a few streets away, and split their time between the Flower Appreciation Society and their other commitments: Day will start midwifery at Homerton University Hospital in September, and Jauncey has her own knitwear label,EDE . Twice a week they visit the New Covent Garden Market, where they marvel at the characters manning the stalls – ‘The traders are cockney boys who’ve been doing it since they were 14,’ Day says. ‘They live this extraordinary life in the middle of the night’ – and are rewarded for an early start with a cup of tea from their friends on the foliage stall. ‘It can be freezing cold, pitch black and you feel exhausted when you set off, but when you get there you always feel better because the guys just make you laugh,’ Jauncey says.