As a Doctor in Philosophy, Solomon Leong
from Hong Kong sees floristry in a different way sometimes. A way to express life itself, a way to express culture and history. This is your chance to get to know him in an exclusive interview.
Meet Solomon Leong
So who is Solomon Leong? What was your motivation to go into floristry, and what do you want people to know about your character and signature design?
Hi, I am Solomon Leong. I am a Dr. of Philosophy. I have always loved nature and anything that grows. And I particularly like flowers. They are not only beautiful, but I think they reflect a lot about our cultures and history.
I don't have a particular style or image that I want to pursue, but all my designs are reflections of myself at a particular moment in my life. Coming from Hong Kong, a concentrated city with all things east and west mixed together, I guess you can find touches of eastern lines and empty space mixed in with broad color palettes, and experimental materials in my works. I like things clean and crisp. I guess you can call that my signature.
How is business These days in Hong Kong?
Business these days in Hong Kong is growing again despite having COVID. At first, everyone was very concerned, but since it's been almost two years and traveling is still very difficult, everyone in the city has saved up some spending power. So you can expect and optimistic and decent growth in the coming months of Christmas and Chinese New Year.
Are there many flowers available or is it also difficult to get everything you need, like in the United States?
Flowers supply is back to normal, though flights from Holland suffer from delays often so we need to prepare extra buffer time. This can also mean extra costs on labor. So flowers, in general, are more expensive than before.
Tell us something about your shop.
I don't have a street-level shop, we operate several workshops in a building at the center of the city. I found this very good in saving costs but at the same time close to all of our clients. We have a team of about six people working, and we have been going for more than fifteen years.
What about education? Is it important in floristry? And how are you involved?
I believe education is very important. That's why we also have a flower school. We are an education partner of AIFD and all our teaching staff members are evaluators and judges of AIFD. We aim to share not only the knowledge of flowers but also respect nature, with all our students. We hope that they can be well educated and can bring forward our next generation of florists.
I am currently the only representative from Hong Kong to be a member of PFCI, Professional Floral Commentator International. I believe that it is equally important to be able to curate and elaborate your design concepts to be able to create stunning works. This is the reason why we place so much emphasis on education as a basis for any floral design.
You participated in the World Cup! So, do you like competitions? And did things change for you after that?
I do like competitions. I have won many and lost a few in my career! Of course, winning is great, but when you lose, you are still a winner, as you can learn so much that no books can teach you.
The experience at the world cup, for example, was one of the best learning experiences in my career. Since then, I have started to look at floral design as not only about flowers, but as a part of the big chain of modern living.
What do you think the biggest global issue is for floral designers? And what is yours?
The world is changing very fast, and we need to realize that flowers can never be an insular bubble, it needs to interact with other industries such as fashion, photography, food, cosmetics, interior designs, etc. And COVID has accelerated this process of integration. Once we have come to terms with this fact we will be able to see that there are more opportunities ahead of us than ever before.
If you could pick anyone from floriculture to talk to, who would you pick? And what would you like to learn?
If I could go down the time tunnel. I would love to talk to Sofu Tashigaphara, the founder of Sogetsu School in Ikebana. I would like to know how he managed to turn something very traditional into avant-garde through the medium of flowers. Groundbreaking!
Can you tell us something about your latest designs?
My latest designs revolve around weaving and braiding. I find that these techniques are interesting and patterns generated soothing and calming. I hope you will like them as much as I do!