The Dutch floral designer is waking up the floral world with whimsical, walkable and wildly inventive creations from the garden.
Perfecting this spring seasons’ tablescape? Looking for inspiration to bring creative flare to your flower arrangements? One artist is on a mission to empower us all to carve out time for creativity and arrange away—vines, buds, blossoms and all.
Dutch artist, author and educator, Pim Van den Akker, is one of the top floral designers in the world who may be even more highly recognized for his brand Flower Factor—a space where education and inspiration bloom together. Flower Factor is a multidimensional platform offering everything from how-to videos about luxury floral design to masterclasses for those looking to finesse their passion for the craft.
Going on seven years strong, Van den Akkers’ Flower Factor aims to be inclusive to everyone, “I wanted to create a place where everyone is welcome, where everyone can grow, where everyone can get the inspiration and education they are seeking. It is a place where growers, breeders, florists, teachers and students can all inspire each other and meet online.”
This reach towards boundlessness in floral art design, and more specifically, achieving connectivity through expression, is a trait bred deeply within him that stems from his childhood just outside the iconic flower capital of the world, Amsterdam, in the city of Delft. Just take a peek at his whimsical outdoor installations or wildly energetic fashion garments that integrate living plants for woven—and walkable—luxury floral designs on the runway.
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Bridging culinary and floristry, the event pays homage to fashion with haute-couture dresses ‘made from scratch,’ using flora and fauna paired alongside gastronomic delights.
Van den Akker, alongside Dutch chef, Yuri Verbeek, are the mastermind’s behind the International Food Floral Fashion Show, which is as tasty and ocular as it sounds. Bridging culinary and floristry, the event pays homage to fashion with haute-couture dresses ‘made from scratch,’ using flora and fauna paired alongside gastronomic delights. During their 2016 show, a polished oyster shell-dress walked the runway while guests nibbled on an oyster-flesh pearl wrapped in gold-leaf—an experience meant to engage all of the senses. The luxury floral design show was a way to honor the European Floristry Championship, considered to be one of the largest floral events in the world, all while challenging Van den Akker and Verbeek to create beyond expectations.
For those at home who are curious about piecing and pairing plant-life together for their own space or for guests to enjoy, the many top luxury floral designers in the world highlighted at Flower Factor provide hands-on videos to walk you through these artful processes. And the global community at the brand reaches far, from florists to students, wholesalers and growers, who all make up the heart of the company.
“I want to show people that art can be easy, because it is a part of you. This is why we share so many tips and tricks with our audience, so that everyone can be a student, and even a teacher.”
WATCH THIS VIDEO ABOUT PIM VAN DEN AKKER:
FOOD FLORAL FASHION SHOW
“I want to show people that art can be easy, because it is a part of you. This is why we share so many tips and tricks with our audience, so that everyone can be a student, and even a teacher,” Van den Akker gushes. The featured floral designer on his site use unexpected material such as leather, bamboo, peacock feathers and fake fur to accentuate a variety of petaled plants. It all makes for a rather exciting invitation for viewers to use their own found objects and, of course, to practice uninhibited creativity that Van den Akker believes is what brings it all together.
ICONIC LIFE spoke with the top luxury floral designer to cover his love for the one and only, Vincent Van Gogh (and fellow Dutch), his formative youth that led him to floristry at an early age as well as the five essential ways we can all bring more creativity into our lives.
ICONIC LIFE: How do your Dutch roots influence your work and ultimately your relationship to flora and fauna?
PIM VAN DEN AKKER: Well, of course, being Dutch means that you are surrounded by flowers and plants and although Holland is a small country, it is huge in flower production.
In general, Dutch design is simple, strong and practical. For me, I can say that I also share this “simple” view on design while also seeing inspiration everywhere, as it is in my Dutch nature, but I also look towards fashion, food and architecture to influence my work. But maybe it is my childhood and the way I was raised that has the biggest impact in how I do my work today.
ICONIC LIFE: Can you share a story or anecdote that led you into the industry of floral artistry and a career as one of the top floral designers in the world?
PIM VAN DEN AKKER: In a way I never wanted to become a floral designer, my dream was to become a forest ranger, but we don’t have a lot of forest in Holland. Because of my dyslexia, I attended a special school that allowed me to choose from one of three directions: animal care, gardening or floristry. I chose floristry and at 16-years-old I discovered that I could create my own world with flowers and plants, a world away from the bullying, and from that moment on I made myself a promise that I would write a book and become the best designer I could be.
It would eventually take me a few years to make the book and to get my master’s degree in Floral Art. But to the surprise of many people my book was a huge success and sold in 23 countries, which happened to be the same age as I was at the time. And from there, Flower Factor was born.
ICONIC LIFE: What stories and emotions do you create from that bring your pieces to life?
PIM VAN DEN AKKER: For me, and I hope for many, my work makes me happy, makes me stand still in order to watch, experience and then grow in my own talent and in my own dreams. With that process, I want to inspire not only myself, but others. I want to show them that everyone has talent, everyone can grow in what they do. For me, it is always about the process, the floral journey. With my work, as a luxury floral designer, I want to inspire myself and others.
This is also what I love to do; make things look simple but once you look at it closely you will discover more and more layers that may have a deeper impact on you.
ICONIC LIFE: Can you talk about Vincent van Gogh’s impact on your artistic lens? How may a viewer of your work draw a connection to the famous painter’s own work?
PIM VAN DEN AKKER: Because of my childhood where I was bullied a lot as well as being dyslexic and slightly colorblind, I was always interested in creating, both in my mind and with my hands. Carpenters, painters and people that made things always drew my attention. Van Gogh is a painter who captures things in a special way, in a way that looks simple until you stand still and look closely to the work. This is also what I love to do; make things look simple but once you look at it closely you will discover more and more layers that may have a deeper impact on you. Perhaps you will recognize details, shapes and textures that at first you may not see.
ICONIC LIFE: You have extended your artistic tendencies right onto the runway. What is your approach to designing fashion garments with such a unique medium?
PIM VAN DEN AKKER: I think that if I was not a luxury floral designer then maybe I would be a carpenter, architect, or a fashion designer. My floral work always has to grow and so I remember my promise I made with myself: “Become the best designer I can be.” Floral fashion was meant to be a journey through flowers, to make statements whether people like it or not. Every floral design is a book, a story, a poem and I just use floral materials instead of a pen and ink. They are my stories that people can read in their own way and feel what they want to feel.
Every floral design is a book, a story, a poem and I just use floral materials instead of a pen and ink. They are my stories that people can read in their own way and feel what they want to feel.
ICONIC LIFE: Your Floral Fashions Show first began in Genoa, Italy in 2009. What is this moment of fashion really like for you?
PIM VAN DEN AKKER: When you work on a collection for weeks, not only doing the floral designing for the show but also the lights, music, make-up, hair and the details in between, that very first moment the model hits the catwalk is always very intense. It is a huge project where many things can go wrong—lucky for me it has always gone very well!
ICONIC LIFE: How would you describe your floral aesthetic?
PIM VAN DEN AKKER: Simple, honest and innovative.
To understand nature is the art of living and making everyday life extraordinary.
ICONIC LIFE: What are some floral design projects that have been the most memorable for you?
PIM VAN DEN AKKER: There are many that are dear to me, but I will tell you about one of the more recent projects that I have done. The first one is an education system that I made for the primary schools of Holland. It is for children between the age of five and nine years old and gives them the opportunity to learn about flowers, plants and creativity. In one-and-a-half years, there are already 100,000 children in school all over Holland who are working with this system. We are now working on a program for the older group of kids, and my goal is to be in 85% of all primary schools in the country—bringing inspiration and education to 1.8 million children.
Secondly, I want to make Flower Factor bigger than it is already and to inspire even more consumers worldwide.
ICONIC LIFE: What does the art of living beautifully mean to you?
PIM VAN DEN AKKER: To understand nature is the art of living and making everyday life extraordinary.
“The more you create in life, the more you will love your life.”
— Be curious, without the fear of failure
— Do something every day that inspires you, that is new for you
— Listen and work with children; small people dream big and big people dream small
— Spend time in places that give you inspiration, like nature, museums, galleries and exhibits
— Look at different craftsmanship like ceramics, glass art, architecture or fashion to see what art form attracts you. Analyze them, ask questions, get answers and then translate them into your world