Flowers always bring life and character to restaurants, hotels and bars – and that's certainly true of the naturally arranged stems of JamJar Flowers. Established in 2009 by former model agency owner Melissa Richardson after she grew bored with retirement, her initial idea was to do contract flowers from her kitchen table on Mondays and spend the rest of the week gardening and day dreaming.
This didn’t last long as JamJar was soon the go-to florist for some of London’s trendiest restaurants, from vases in the Chiltern Firehouse to elaborate installations in Sketch, as well as creating flower designs for events and weddings with a team full of 'jammers' working from their South London studio. We caught up with Melissa to discover what goes into creating their unparalleled floral installations.
JamJar Flowers directors Melissa Richardson & Amy Ireland outside their studio in Peacock Yard, South London – Photo: Helen Cathcart / House & Garden © The Condé Nast Publications Ltd.
When you arrange flowers in a client’s space, or create a grand installation, how do you want the JamJar flowers to interact with the space?
We always want our flowers to look easy and natural in the space they are adorning. We want the flowers to reflect the personality of the venue. Be it very natural, simple, organically grown flowers at Spring restaurant or complicated plant installations and natural but elaborate Christmas decorations at The Chiltern Firehouse.
JamJar wedding flowers installation at Aynhoe Park
How do you decide on specific flowers and designs for each of your regular clients? Does it all come from you or do work to a brief?
Once you have spoken to a client you get a feeling for the sort of flowers that will suit them. Even if they don’t have strong ideas of their own, you quickly know if they are the sort of person who wants grasses and berries or huge cabbage roses and peonies.... and all the flowers in between. It is our job to interpret their style and taste and give them what they want.
Arrangement at Spring restaurant
How do you time the flowers or an installation for maximum impact?
We have just done a job with lilies and had to buy them a week in advance so they would be ready on the right day, but most flowers we order to arrive the day before the event so they are as fresh as possible.
Is there a JamJar thread that connects through all your installations?
I hope everything we do is completely fresh and that we don’t have a particular signature look but the running theme should be that everything is done with care and accurately reflects what it is meant to do.
Ceiling installation at Sketch
Which installations are you most proud of?
We were extremely proud of the 6000 flower hanging ceiling which we installed in The Glade at Sketch. Partly because it was much bigger than anything we had ever done before. Thank God Finn [Melissa’s son and mastermind JamJar installation producer] was there and could work out the actual volume of flowers needed and how much the whole thing would weigh and then Joel Bondoux and the amazing team from Sketch made it all work... but my heart was in my mouth.
The other piece we are fiercely proud of is the pressed flower wallpaper we made for an exhibition for Rake’s Progress in Floral Street. Pressed flowers are something we have been exploring for a while with The JamJar Edit [JamJar’s online shop] and when we were invited to make something special for the this exhibition we came up with this idea. It looked exquisite and I felt it was really unusual and extraordinary.
Pressed flower wallpaper
JamJar Flowers installation at Sketch for Mayfair in Bloom 2018
Can you talk us through your last Sketch installation?
We are very lucky to have been invited by Sylvain Chevelu at Sketch to make art pieces for their summer exhibition for Mayfair in Bloom a few times. It’s always a challenge as the exhibition has to stay up for a month and with flowers, it’s asking a lot. This year they were exploring floral exhibits from different countries around the world from five different London florists. I spend a couple of months a year in India, so we had the idea to turn the facade of Sketch into a Rajasthani Palace or temple. We made the intricate designs and decorations inspired by Indian art using pressed and dried flowers. We also had a wonderful puja garland made for us in India and the marigold garlands also came from India. It was a very complicated install as no fixings could be put into the building but with the help of many talented jammers and Bonsai Crew who installed it for us, the whole thing worked beautifully and, in fact, stayed up for three months because they liked it so much.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from endlessly researching ideas, books we read, travel, gardens we have visited, places like Kettle’s Yard, Prospect Cottage, the Soane Museum, Chelsea Physic Garden and Charleston House are wonderful place to hatch ideas.
JamJar Edit arrangement. Photo: Kasia Wozniack
What advice would you have for anyone wanting to brighten up their home with flowers?
Keep it simple at home. Use masses of single species flowers for a simple, clean and effective display. If you have a big space great branches of blossom and foliage make a big impression and not too expensive. If you live in London, go to New Covent Garden Market and buy your own flowers. If you are picking from the garden, invest in some beautiful vintage bottles and put a few repeating blooms in each one and arrange them together down a table or grouped on a mantelpiece, that always looks lovely. Invest in some good unusual vases. JamJar Edit has some great ideas for unusual vases and containers.
Feeling floral? Decorate your desk with these flower-based stationery designs. They're always fresh.