Hanneke Frankema Lives for Flowers and Plants

The 'Iron Lady' of Floristry speaks about her passion for floral designing and her intimate link with Decorum.

By: THURSD. | 10-07-2024 | 7 min read
Floral Designs Interviews
Hanneke Frankema Decorum

Hanneke Frankema hardly needs an introduction to the world of floriculture. As the winner of the 2022 Florint Europa Cup, she is a much sought-after celebrity for every branch of the floral industry; not only for Dutch florists who want to learn from her but also for many growers who like her to showcase the beauty and use of their products.

Her life has gone into turbo boost after 2022, and she found herself traveling the world, doing shows, workshops, and tutoring, being a wonderful and open-hearted figurehead for the profession of floral designer.

And, lucky you: she found time to speak to Thursd about her work. In this Q&A, you will get to know Hanneke as a floral designer with a passion for both flowers and plants, about her intimate relationship with the Decorum label and its growers, and you will get an answer to the question of why her nickname is 'The Iron Lady."

Q&A With Hanneke Frankema

Q: So, for those that still do not know you (well)... Who is Hanneke Frankema?


"I come from Friesland, born and raised here. I am 41 years old and have been passionate about nature from a young age. I've been working in a flower shop since I was 14 and now I'm a master florist.

I live for flowers; I wake up with them and go to bed with them. I think it's an amazing profession we have."


Hanneke Frankema with Europa Cup 2022
Hanneke Frankema with the Florint Europa Cup


Q: How would you describe yourself?


"I'm a master florist and floral designer. I also do a lot of big shows and teach a lot. I do a bit of everything."

There are, of course, floral designers who are real artists; for them, the line between art and commercial work is completely gone. I create large showpieces for competitions and big shows, but I also know how to sell commercial work, which allows me to run a shop. This is a powerful aspect of my lessons; I ran a flower shop for ten years, so I know how to manage a business and make money from bouquets. This gives a nice practical edge to my teaching."

Q: Do you have a signature style? How would you describe it?


"I can work with many different materials, from classic to regular bouquets. I really enjoy making frames that flowers go into. I'm known as the 'Iron Lady' because I love working with wire. I think that nickname stuck with me about fifteen years ago. I like taking wire on trips because it's durable and a great material to work with."


Hanneke Frankema designing


Q: Do you remember why you wanted to become a floral stylist?


"I attended an agricultural high school where we had one hour of flower arranging every Friday afternoon. I immediately loved it, so I chose a vocational course in floral design. I had no idea about the whole world behind the flower shop, like freelancing, shows, demonstrations, and competitions. That picture slowly formed in the first years of my education.

I participated in a student competition and won right away. And then I won the next one too. That's when I got hooked on competitions. I started getting assignments from trade magazines and was asked to do demonstrations. People saw that I performed well on stage, and that's how things started rolling. Within a few years, it grew into something much bigger than just working in a flower shop."



Q: What satisfaction do you get from working with flowers?


"For me, the best part is creating something beautiful from nothing. You start with a pile of wires and a bunch of flowers. You begin by making a nice base and then add the flowers to it."

Q: Do you have a favorite flower?


"A good florist can work with any flower, so I don't have a specific preference. However, I do love orchids, mainly because of their color. The color often guides the rest of the flowers in the design.

But my preferences change a lot. Sometimes I'm really into Gloriosas, then I switch to Clematis, and another time I might focus on chrysanthemums. It evolves over time and depends on the project."


Hanneke Frankema Phalaenopsis
A wonderful design with orchids


Hanneke & Decorum Plants and Flowers

It is no big secret that Decorum, the quality label for plants and flowers, maintains a warm relationship with Hanneke Frankema. They have found each other in their quest to be the best in quality and innovation. Let's talk about this synergy.

Q: How did you get involved with Decorum?


"About eight or nine years ago, my partner, photographer Nico Alsemgeest, and I were asked to participate in an event for young gardeners. I would handle the flowers, and he would do the photography. Someone from Decorum was there and thought "We could do something with them." That's how it started.

Decorum has a beautiful and broad range of products. I love using plants in floral art. By incorporating plants and parts of plants into a floral design, you create something different from an average bouquet. I can create beautiful floral works because I also use plants. I pull the plants apart and use their flowers."


Hanneke Frankema Decorum box on Thursd


Q: You travel the world as a floral designer. Can you find Decorum products everywhere?


"I see Decorum products at most wholesalers worldwide, even in China. I particularly notice their chrysanthemums everywhere. I pay attention to this because I deliberately choose Decorum products for my projects.

I visit many growers, especially in the Netherlands, and I know many Decorum growers personally, which gives me a special connection to their products. I know how hard they work to grow the best products and hear the stories about what makes their products unique; I really enjoy that.

I also stay well-informed about new Decorum products. I use their products in the masterclasses I give in my studio. If there's something new, they send it to me, and I share the growers' stories with my students."

Q: Sustainability is a key pillar of Decorum. Does this influence your choice to use their products?


"I'm very pleased that Decorum focuses on sustainability because it's a hot topic. It makes me feel good knowing that all those growers are working on it. Consumers are also starting to ask more about it."


Hanneke Frankema Big Floral design


A Long and Prosperous Future

For all the awards that she has won, the numerous projects she has done worldwide, and the number of florists that she has taught how to make great yet commercially viable arrangements... Hanneke is only 41 years of age! She still has decades ahead of her showing the splendor of floral art and spreading the love for flowers and plants. Therefore, the rightful question would be what her plans are, starting with the near future.

Q: What's coming up for you? At which events can we see you?


"I'm going to My Plant & Garden (February 2025) in Milan, Italy, and Flora Expo Astana (April 2025) in Kazakhstan. And the big project is the World Cup Floral Art next year at the World Forum in The Hague. It will be a grand event with two and a half thousand people in the audience. I'll be doing a demonstration on the final evening after the last competition round while waiting for the results. Decorum is one of the main sponsors, so I'll be using a lot of their products during my show. It's good because not only is the hall huge, but the stage is gigantic too. It's going to be an amazing show, I already know."



Q: What else do you want to achieve in the near or distant future?


"I think a book should definitely happen at some point. It seems like a lot of fun. I've always said, "I want to win a major competition before I make a book."

Hanneke has already achieved that. In 2022, she won the Florint Europa Cup for Floristry in Katowice, Poland, which will become the World Cup Floral Art in 2025.

Q: So, where's the book?


"Haha, yes... winning a major competition makes you very busy. I want to do it right. It has to be innovative and distinctive, preferably with a lot of new work in it. But it's still on my list!"


Hanneke Frankema with Big Floral design


All photos by Nico Alsemgeest, courtesy of Hanneke Frankema.


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