Floral Couture With Hayford & Rhodes

Toast.Life chats to Joanna Rhodes, Managing Director of London’s oldest florist - and widely considered one of the best –Hayford & Rhodes

With clients such as BAFTA, Royal Ascot and several Historic Royal Palaces, ToastLife chats to Joanna Rhodes, Managing Director of London’s oldest florist - and widely considered one of the best –Hayford & Rhodes, to hear about their show stopping work, and what it takes to maintain such an exceptional reputation.

There’s something rather magical about flowers, isn’t there? The scent, the colour, the shapes – they are an incredible example of the wonder of nature and they instantly add a sense of style and occasion, whether it’s modest vase of pink roses on the table at a dinner party to a full-on, wow factor floral garland carefully draped over the mantlepiece. Established back in 1924, London’s oldest florist Hayford & Rhodes’ style is uniquely inspired by its heritage; they have mastered the art of combining timeless design with the talent and skill of progressive florists to create unforgettable modern classics, and with over a staggering 85 years’ experience designing luxury flowers for prestigious clients, events and venues, they are the go-to for luxury floral design.

“Our style is quintessentially English, luxury, high-quality, design-led, unique and bespoke” explains Managing Director Joanna Rhodes.

“Our Brand Director Emma coined the phrase ‘floral couture’ earlier this year and we now use that as one of our hashtags. We always want to provide breath-taking, beautiful flowers that are jaw-droppingly Instagrammable!” 

Hayford & Rhodes was founded in 1924 by William Hayford, who built an enviable reputation as one of London’s finest florists. In 2004, Joanna and her sisters Amy and Laura made a pact to change their careers and work together in a creative industry and pursue their mutual love of floristry, and so in 2007 they took over the business and relaunched as Hayford & Rhodes, and Joanna has been MD since 2014.

“After getting my degree in Fine Art and working in a Mayfair art gallery, I decided I needed to do something that allowed me to express my hands-on creativity as well as my business acumen! Floristry is a living art form, which means there are limitations that I prefer to see as challenges to up our game in terms of creativity and imagination” she explains.

“From a store-front florist in The City, we're now one of London's best-known luxury wedding and events florists.”

When Joanna and her sisters took over the company, they originally planned to expand across London with more retail spaces, but the financial crisis in the late 00s forced them to look to the future and re-consider the evolution of the company. They closed the retail spaces, moved to a studio space south of the river and focused on securing long-term relationships through large-scale events.

“Now we have to pick and choose what we work on, as we are always so manically busy! We keep waiting for there to be a 'quiet period' but I'm starting to think there's no such thing!” she laughs.

“So much of our business is word of mouth that we can't afford to get lazy or stale. My team are an incredibly creative group and we work very hard to ensure we always keep thinking uniquely when we're planning our work, from a huge event to each season's bouquet range and we cater to whatever our clients want - we have some weekly customers who walk in to our studio and pick out some stems for a bouquet, right through to events where the floral budget runs into the tens of thousands.”

Additionally, Hayford & Rhodes provide weekly flowers for both corporate clients (such as London’s very top hotels, private members' clubs, offices, restaurants and bars) and private homes. They create stunning bouquets and gifts for corporate and personal gifting, and they have a dedicated weddings team who work in some of the most exclusive venues in the world, such as Kensington Palace and The Savoy. And last but by no means least, there is also an expert events team who oversee stunning floristry for small, intimate private dinners for ultra-high net worth individuals, through to the likes of BAFTA.

Kensignton Palace Hayford Rhodes

(Image: Kensington Palace tablescape).

“The BAFTA events were both very memorable for me – we did the official Nespresso  BAFTA  Awards Nominees Party both in 2017 and 2018. Getting listed at the Historic Royal Palaces was also a real highlight - supplying flowers for weddings and events at Kensington Palace and other Royal Palaces sort of blows my mind!” Joanna smiles. 

“We work really closely with our clients to ensure our vision aligns with their creative brief, for example when we worked with Nespresso for the 2018 BAFTA Nominees party, we had their entire creative team in our studio for several days. I often start my own creative process by going back to basics - sketching in my notebook or painting some ideas using watercolours. Pinterest has become integral to our process. Mood boards are now so easy to produce, share and keep as ever-evolving working processes.”

Earlier this year Hayford & Rhodes  worked with Nespresso again to create the widely acclaimed ‘Houzz of 2018’ - a concept ‘pop-up’ house in London with five stories of immersive and interactive design. Hayford & Rhodes breathed organic life into the fifth-floor café, celebrating the Nespresso Limited Edition range; the Origins of Coffee. Using the tropical, equatorial roots of coffee as their inspiration, they created an inside living wall of over 210 different plants to bring an earthy, natural feel to the space, and to reflect the botanical origins of the plant. Their planted wall, measuring a mighty 3m x 2m, took three of their expert floral designers a total of five hours to build.

Houzz 2018

Nespresso Wall Hayford And Rhodes

“The Houzz event for Nespresso was such fun. The brief was the origins of coffee, thinking about the plant, where it comes from and how we could best reflect the organic process of coffee from growing to bean to cup. Because we knew The Houzz of 2018 would be all over Instagram, we wanted to make the installation a highly Instagrammable step-and-repeat for the visitors to the event” she explains. 

“The foliage wall had to be carefully constructed to be lush and almost jungle-like, but it had to be built to last the duration of the event without losing the rich greenness of the plants. We had to find the balance between plants that were hardy and long-lasting that were also really leafy. Under and over-watering and central heating are the enemies of all plants, so we had to also bear that in mind when choosing the plants for the event. So, whilst it looks like we just artfully stuck a load of plants on a wall, the construction of the living wall itself was at the end of a long and careful thought and design process!” 

Victoria Garwood Tablescapes Hayford And Rhodes

Banqueting House Hayford Rhodes

Banqueting House Hayford And Rhodes

(Images: Banqueting House dinner) 

For a private dining for 40 at London’s prestigious Two Temple Place (organised by Polar Black Events and expertly catered for by Urban Caprice), Hayford & Rhodes chose to add to the existing richness of the interior of the venue, using dark pink and purple hydrangeas, orchids, succulents, anemones and roses. Small gold vases each filled with flowers ran along mantelpieces, with a 44-foot tablescape cascading to the floor along the dining table. For the 2017 London Fashion Week’s official live partner Yahoo Style, Hayford & Rhodes made a gorgeously floral and high-fashion ombre flower wall at London’s Somerset House. Taking inspiration from the 2017 Pantone colour of the year (Greenery) the bespoke-built, free-standing flower wall featured densely-packed candy pink, sugary purple and marshmallow white dahlia, hydrangea, clematis and scabius mixed in with lots of foliage for texture and depth. It seems there is little that the Hayford & Rhodes events team cannot do.

Yahoo Style Flower Wall Hayford And Rhodes

(Image: Yahoo Style flower wall) 

Two Temple Tableplace Hayford And Rhodes

(Two Temple Place tablescape)

“The creative part of floristry takes centre stage at the beginning when designing the event, and at the end when you are putting the final touches to the installations, but in between there are a lot of logistics, planning, strategy and project management” Joanna explains

“In terms of sheer volume, Ascot was HUGE. It was a week of installing and refreshing literally thousands of displays, working minimum 14 hours a day, sometimes until 3am. The logistics had to be planned down to the smallest bud vase. The team are amazing, as they're able to produce consistently stunning and creative floral design, as well as being thorough and careful project managers.”

Hay Hill Contracts Hayford And Rhodes

Christmas Table Hayford Rhodes Christmas Tablescape  (1)

So, with an über talented and dedicated team combined with over 85 years of experience and heritage, it’s clear to see why Hayford & Rhodes’ popularity is so enduring, but I am curious to know what Joanna thinks is key to their immense success, and to building and maintaining such an outstanding reputation. 

“Planning, being able to adapt instantly in high-pressure environments and keeping calm and focused on the outcome, which is creating beautiful focal points for your clients” Joanna explains.

“We promise bespoke, luxury designs and to achieve this, we put a lot of work in to our quotes and creative concepts. We never just re-purpose an existing quote. Every event, from a small intimate dinner, to a large-scale wedding at Kensington Palace to the events we've done with BAFTA and Nespresso, has to be an original concept, with high-quality flowers and foliage at the heart of it.” 

Ah yes – the all-important quality of their flowers is also of course what keeps their clients and some of the top venues in the world coming back for more. There are hundreds if not thousands of high-end florists out there these days, all claiming to be ‘luxury’, but when it comes to flowers, what does ‘luxury’ actually mean?

“Quality, quality, quality! It's true that you can grab a bunch of flowers for £3 at your supermarket but the quality is so poor. I feel bad for the flowers!” Joanna laughs. 

“We work with growers all over the world to source the finest quality flowers and foliage. Quite often we get feedback from bouquet clients that they had no idea a bouquet could be so sumptuous, voluptuous and multi-dimensional. Flowers should be a talking point. A bouquet should make you stop and stare and FEEL! A £3 bouquet from a garage forecourt will never make you feel anything - except disappointed!”

Event Flowers 1910S Hydragea Figaro Hayford And Rhodes

Event Flowers Summer Party Hydrangea Verna Hayford And Rhodes

HR Louis XIII Two Temple Place October  (1)

Hayford & Rhodes’ plans for 2019 include expanding their wedding and events teams, some new and exciting partnerships (currently top secret) and perhaps hooking a certain dream client…

“Vogue! Anything Vogue!” enthuses Joanna.“A party, a shoot, a bouquet or wreath for their offices! Vogue is the original creative bible”

But before all that, there is of course Christmas to enjoy first and as you can imagine, Hayford & Rhodes’ wreaths and Christmas bouquets are completely gorgeous. If you’re still considering which flowers to fill your home with this Christmas and you’d like some top tips and advice on what to choose and how to look after them, then don’t miss our indispensable guide to abundant festive florals with Hayford & Rhodes, over on The Edit now.

If you’d like to work with Hayford & Rhodes you can find more information and contact details on their page in Toast.Life’s Little Black Book.  

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