Master florist Andreas Verheijen is not just any ordinary certified florist. He is a renowned flower engineer. With a background in horticulture and a passion for design, Verheijen has devoted his career to creating floral and botanical works of art that go beyond what is merely imaginable. He is one among a deft group of floral artists who possess the unique ability to transform flowers into breathtaking installations.
The florist and horticulture expert who started out with a love for gardening and a passion for plant material mixes his interest in design and love of flowers to create awe-inspiring floral compositions. He does this through flower engineering, which he describes as an ongoing project that is all about creating flowers and not really about arranging them. He also dissects plants and reassembles them into new hybrids.
How Verheijen Started Out in Flower Engineering
Verheijen's story begins in Zundert, the Dutch core of dahlia culture which is well-known for its magnificent flower parade. Growing up in this exciting environment, his destiny seemed intertwined with the world of flora.
However, his path to becoming a flower engineer was not a straight one. While still a youngster, he used to help his carpenter father build floats for famous flower parades in his Dutch home. But as a teenager, he became more attracted to dancing but his parents did not approve of this move. Even though he went on dancing secretly, his parents soon discovered this and he had to stop and head back to horticulture.
After spending 16 years in Great Britain, where he worked as a floral sales executive at Harrods and ran his own flower shop, Verheijen returned to the Netherlands to embark on a new chapter in his career in which he now works as a freelance floral designer based in Amsterdam for institutions like the Dutch Flower Council. He, however, still also, works regularly in Great Britain on various events and exhibitions.
The Artistry of Flower Engineering
Verheijen's approach to floral design extends beyond traditional arrangements involved in flower design. As a flower engineer, he views flowers as a medium for sculptural expression. His installations are not merely combinations of floral blooms; they are carefully crafted works of art that bring out emotions and create immersive experiences. His meticulous flower engineering explores shape, color, and texture, redefining whatever has, previously, been possible within the flower industry.
Notably, what sets Verheijen’s artistry apart is his innovative approach to floral engineering. Rather than simply arranging flowers, he dissects and reconstructs individual blooms to create hybrid forms that defy conventional expectations.
These imaginative combinations seem to completely distort the often blurry lines between nature and art, resulting in botanical sculptures that are both as mesmerizing as they are contemplative.
His engineering series and processes, he says, serve as a sort of laboratory where flower shape, color, and texture are explored in a broader context, extending beyond the customary limitations of the flower industry.
“Apart from being proposals towards new varieties, the engineering series should primarily be seen as a laboratory towards shape, color and texture in a broader sense than just the flower industry.”
Verheijen's flower engineering involves elaborate and complex processes. He recreates plants and flowers just the same way a sculptor, for instance, would work on materials like wood, stone, or marble. The end result reveals the sculptural beauty of the plant material that he uses. With his flower engineering, he goes much further than nature, by crafting what looks like colorful genetically engineered hybrids.
From suspended ‘nests’ of deer antlers adorned with autumnal foliage to towering vases bursting with crimson berries, Verheijen's designs have a way of fascinating anyone who perceives them with their drama and decadence. Each of his projects is carefully tailored to suit the occasion, reflecting the essence of the theme or event.
The flower engineer’s portfolio, accordingly, boasts an impressive array of installations that have graced events and exhibitions worldwide. His collaborations with renowned partners such as Sue Artus, Robert Young Cheltenham, Matthew Brown, and TDA London have yielded breathtaking creations.
Sharing Knowledge of Flower Engineering and Inspiring Others
Even so, Verheijen's passion for flowers extends away from his artistic endeavors. He actively shares his expertise through demonstrations and workshops conducted worldwide. From Barbados to Canada, Hungary, and the US, he strives to impart to other people new techniques, trends, and his love for specific flower varieties.
His educational initiatives, he says, aim to inform and inspire fellow floral enthusiasts, while promoting a deeper appreciation for the natural floral beauty that exists.
But, even more than that, Verheijen who is a certified master florist and accredited member of the American Institute for Floral Designers (AIFD), and hence much more than just a talented florist, has elevated the artistry of floral design to new elevations with this innovative approach and the creativity that it inspires.