This year Elizabeth Marsh Floral Design was asked to supply some flowers for a funeral but the request was stranger than most. The man who died had loved his garden and despised anything too contrived or formal. The company was asked to make a display that would look like a blanket that had been draped over the coffin. It proved something of a challenge, but the result was a sensation. ‘Over the coffin we created a cascading garden of variegated ivy, eucalyptus, hydrangeas and roses,’ says Elizabeth Marsh. ‘It looked natural and beautiful and everyone commented on it. When we really come into our own is with funerals because they’re so emotionally charged and personal. Our USP is being able to tap into a client’s vision and turn it into a reality.’
So often customers choose a brand for its particular, recognisable style. How Elizabeth Marsh differs is that she interprets and makes manifest the design each individual customer has in mind as opposed to abiding by her own look. ‘It is unusual but especially so because of the extent and scale to which we do it,’ she says.
‘In Britain we have a slightly anarchic reputation and I definitely bring that to my work: reflecting the individual, rebelling against conforming’
Elizabeth Marsh started out as a linguist and a journalist before becoming a florist 20 years ago with no formal training. In the 1990s she was one of the last independent artists to design and install the window displays for Harvey Nichols, with Mary Portas. Today her clients include The Science Museum, Montblanc, Marcus Wareing, The Roux Brothers, Cliveden House, Spencer House, The Saudi Royal Embassy, Nicky Haslam Interior Design and Mick Jagger. The company has won many awards including gold medals from the RHS judges at the Chelsea and Hampton in Bloom competitions. Elizabeth Marsh has also written a book about floral design.
Her client base is increasingly international though much of her work is in London and she still sees her brand as British. ‘I had an Italian girl working for me and was struck when she told me she couldn’t wear what she wanted in Italy without people in the street telling her to dress properly but, here, no one minded,’ she says. ‘That freedom we have is unique and the hallmark of British design and expression. We have a slightly anarchic reputation and I definitely bring that to my work: reflecting the individual, rebelling against conforming. For example, at Christmas we brought a very traditional, opulent look to Corbyn and King’s six restaurants while the Meridien wanted something really avant garde.
‘Our USP is being able to tap into a client’s vision and turn it into a reality’
So we created a snow-storm of baubles in their branded colours mid-air in the reception area. People were talking about it for months and it was a smash hit on social media – which was precisely what they had wanted. And in Canterbury we decorated a private estate with floral chandeliers for a wedding.’ This year, the company is continuing to scale up with larger installations for a private client in Switzerland and the Queen Elizabeth ll Centre, among others, as well as busily augmenting a reach that is becoming ever more global.
ELIZABETH MARSH NEW COVENT GARDEN MARKET, LONDON SW8 5EH +44 (0)20 7738 8506