Designing by emotion – Zita Elze

It’s such an honour to feature the work of Zita Elze, a true instinctive artist, breaking rules and inspiring many to do the same.

I would love to say everything comes directly from the soul. I really do not think of a recipe on how to put a design together, rather I let it happen naturally.” Zita Elze

Brazilian born, Zita Elze is an award-winning floral artist, designer, teacher, creator of the Living Embroidery Collection and design consultant. Zita studied artistic bookbinding in Paris, followed by Interior Design at London’s KLC School of Design and Garden Design at the Inchbald School of Design, where she graduated with a distinction.

Zita was appointed Floral Artist in Residence at the Royal Horticultural Society for 2018.

How would you describe your style..

I call it designing by emotion. As a student I disliked being told what to do and which rules to follow. I was never asked to express myself freely nor shown how to do that.

Going to the Inchbald School completely changed the way I looked at design; their motto was:

‘If you want to be a great designer you need to break the rules”.

Zita Elze floral design. All images property of Zita Elze

This gave me the courage to express myself. I remember thinking if I ever become a teacher, I will do just that, encourage people to break rules, and I have been doing that ever since I set up the flower academy.

As time progressed I noticed that those who worked with me were interested in understanding my design process. I began to focus on this myself, in order to find a way to transmit it to others.

Basically, I do not think about colour or texture – I work with an emotion instead, a feeling inside myself or one that I experience when talking to a client. I then translate that into a design.

What’s your approach and process to creating a piece..

I prefer to work with an emotion and translate this into a design, I do not think about colour or texture. This methodology is very much loved at the Academy and with tuition it is easy to achieve and also stress-free. It sounds a bit strange at first but with some guidance it can become second nature. Working on new designs every day and never repeating anything is very healing, it allows one to express and process one’s emotions.

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Zita Elze floral design. All images property of Zita Elze

Where does your creative inspiration come from? 

I believe that inspiration comes from many avenues, among them travelling, going to museums, meditating, dreaming….and yes, there are also some floral artists that have inspired me too.

Twenty five years ago in Paris we used to live in the Latin Quarter not far away from the Carrefour de l’Odéon where Christian Tortu had his wonderful shop.  I loved his style then and still like to look at his books now which I bought at the time – he brought the countryside to Paris and this was a big thing at the time. Later on I discovered Tage Anderson in Copenhagen, a true artist. And of course there are many others ……

As for trends, I really don’t follow those, I prefer to work with a brief, a clear space and I love to create something novel and unique every single time. The seasons usually play a part in this too, depending on the project.

IMG_0279Where do you source your flowers? 

I buy most of my flowers from the New Covent Garden Flower Market but I also order directly from Holland. I love local seasonal flowers and use them as much as I can. Funnily enough I buy my own weekly kitchen flowers for my house at a local farmers market, maybe because it gives me a sense of detachment from work.

There’s much change and enthusiasm in the industry for more local, field-grown flowers. What are your thoughts on this and other changes in the industry?

I can see that there is a great movement on this direction and it’s wonderful. I am planning to grow my own flowers, too. I also see more designers opting for eco-friendly materials. I am now using biodegradable oasis and I am very happy with the results. I do try to concentrate on displays in water but in a busy and demanding work environment this is not always possible. I would like to go plastic free and I am looking for alternatives. I am working on some beautiful rubber products to use instead of what is currently available on the market.

Tips to brides who are in the planning stages?

Start with a well thought through mood board based on your experiences, your likes, things that are important for you and follow that inspiration throughout the entire process. Find designers who are able to interpret your dreams rather than impose their own ideas.

Living embroidery. All images property of Zita Elze

Was it always flowers for you? 

I always loved flowers but being a florist never crossed my mind as such, it just came about. One day a long time ago I was walking my dog in Kew and came across a beautiful shop that had been closed for a long time; I thought that it would be a great location for my garden design practice and I thought I’d decorate the front with some flowers. From day one the locals loved the way I was using foliage in particular. Little by little the flower business took over and it gradually expanded. Nowadays my focus is increasingly on my design school and flower academy as well as teaching abroad.

Zita’s shopfront, Kew, London. All images property of Zita Elze

Most memorable gig?

It has to be my Chelsea Flower Show exhibit in 2009. I always say that one can do anything after going through this process. Very stressful but so absolutely rewarding.


***In 2009, Zita won a silver-gilt medal for her first major exhibit, entitled ‘A Celebration of Life’, at the Chelsea Flower Show, where she revealed her ground-breaking floral embroidery technique. Her display, the first of its kind, earned a coveted silver-gilt medal and had audiences gasping in wonder at its exquisite romantic beauty. Chelsea Flower Show now regularly features flower dresses by young florists and other professionals who have picked up on the trend.

Zita Elze, Flower Shop, Design Consultancy, Flower School, Kew, London

Check out Zita’s Flower Academy and a whole host of other schools here.

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