The Ordinary People: Afternoon Tea with Shilbe of Still Life Floral

We caught up with Shilbe, owner and creative mind behind the whimsical yet quirky Still Life Floral to gain insight into her flower designing process as she puts together the rose-inspired tea time set up for our collaborative collection with Fresh Beauty.

Having picked up floral arrangement as a hobby during her university days, she has since trained with Award-Winning Floral Artist Zita Elze and attended master classes with Catherine Muller and Putnam & Putnam. After quitting her marketing job 2 years ago to start Still Life Floral, Shilbe shares with us her journey and the mindset that goes behind each of her novel creations.

Thanks for this beautiful set up! What inspires your arrangements, and what is Still Life Floral's philosophy behind every one of your creations?

At Still Life Floral, our handcrafted designs are led by intuition and emotion, rather than solely by colours or textures. We collaborate with the best that nature has to offer throughout the seasons to create designs befitting the context/occasion a.k.a mood-based designs

It's fascinating that you choose the concept of mood-based floral design as a starting point - can you tell us more about it and how does this guide one's flower styling journey?

The turning point in my flower journey was when I attended Zita Elze Flower Academy. Her unique approach to teaching flowers was unlike anything I've experienced and really draws on being in tune with your emotions rather than rules. I realised I had been approaching flowers all wrong before and the shift was pretty much instantaneous for me. 

Making the right flower selection is of utmost importance to creating a mood that you set out to do. I've made the mistake before (multiple times) of selecting all the pretty flowers at the market, then coming home only to realize that I can't make an arrangement with it because the flowers just don't go together. 

Each ingredient plays a role to achieve a feeling and mood and only when you pick the right ingredients, your arrangement will make sense. This intuitive sense unfortunately can't be taught in a single class, but rather a result of an amalgamation of experiences over many years. It is so important to see a lot, feel a lot and experience as many things you can to widen your horizons. And as with any other art form, all these will help you gain new perspectives and insights that are immensely helpful as you embark your flower journey.

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What are some of your personal favourite flowers variants?

There are too many to name but I love fritillaria, sweet pea, rubus (berries) and unique orchid varieties. It is also why I chose the Degarmoara orchid as my logo.

We love how you sometimes forage for wild flowers in your garden and in fields that grow locally in Singapore. Sometimes local flowers are overlooked, but you've found a way to weave them into your bouquets and elevate them. What inspired you to do that?

I always look to my surroundings because they always seem to have the answer that I'm looking for. It was one of the important lessons I learnt from my flower teacher, Zita. She always said to "look around, the answer is always there". It is just one of those things that you've just got to experience it for yourself to understand. It is also the reason why when I find something calling out to me, I buy it without much hesitation, and know that I will use it for an unknown future project.

Thanks for sharing your personal approach to creating these beautiful arrangements, do you have any last tips on creating your own bouquet for people who are not sure where to begin!

Go to the flower market with an image for inspiration and remember not to get swayed by all the pretty flowers at the market. Notice the colours of the petals, veining of the leaves, stems etc and see how they relate to one another. It will help you to make a decision on your ingredients. Also, use a vase to help you instead of arranging it in your hand, it will make it a lot easier.

Follow Shilbe's journey as she explores mood-based floral design on @stilllife_floral
The Fresh Beauty x The Ordinary Co collection is available online here