Five minutes with floral designer Kim Beedie
Gina Long catches up with Kim Beedie, floral stylist, interior designer and GeeWizz charity ball designer
HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN CREATIVE?
Yes, I was always good at art as a child, a gift from my mother. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be an interior designer.
DID YOU HAVE ANY JOBS BEFORE STARTING THE BUSINESS?
I trained as an interior designer. After graduating, I worked for a practice designing hotel interiors, although my very first job was refurbishing several police canteens, not very glamorous, but I learned a lot. I soon realised that the finishing touches are the details that really transform interiors, and so went on to start a company that worked alongside interior designers sourcing all of the artworks, floral design and sculptural elements for projects, mostly in the leisure industry. After a move to Suffolk 10 years ago, Figa & Co was born, drawing on all my previous experience.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT IN BUSINESS TO DATE?
Working in association with the National Gallery earlier this year, where I led a design course as part of their Dutch Flowers exhibition. The coming together of three of my greatest passions, art, flowers and design at such an incredible, world-class institution was a joy. I’m looking forward to working with the gallery again next year and hoping to offer a similar course to The New York Flower School.
WHERE WOULD WE HAVE SEEN SOME OF YOUR WORK?
My work is mostly for private and corporate clients, designing floral schemes and event decor for weddings, celebrations, magazine photo shoots and business events, but I was thrilled to be involved with creating a 35 metre high floral installation, also in association with the National Gallery’s Dutch Flower exhibition, in June this year. Sixty thousand flowers were used to depict an old master still-life, which took pride of place in Trafalgar Square over one week. This autumn, we’re thrilled to have been asked to design the decor for the GeeWizz Ball at The Hangar, at Milsoms Kesgrave Hall, where over 300 guests will enjoy, what we and organisers aim to make a spectacular event, while raising money for this wonderful charity.
WHY HAVE YOU BASED YOURSELF IN SUFFOLK?
Having lived and worked in the Midlands since leaving university, 10 years ago we decided to move to Suffolk to be closer to family and to enjoy the space. We managed to buy a property with a home studio. For the first six months I thought we had made a terrible mistake, arriving in deepest winter at our new abode, which was a former pub and needed completely refurbishing. We lived in the property with our four daughters in all the dust and mayhem. It was freezing, grey and a project that seemed to eat money – not at all the dream we had in mind. Over the next few years, as the house became more of a home, I made new friends, enjoyed discovering how lovely Suffolk is and launched Figa, so things fell into place. Now I love it. Working in London and visiting every now and then keeps me stimulated with new ideas and inspiration.
WHO HAS HAD THE MOST INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER AND BUSINESS?
My Mother gave me the gift of creativity and I am driven each day to do the very best job I
can do for my clients to make my girls proud. Sounds like a bit of a cliché, but true!
YOU HOST REGULAR DAY AND HALF-DAY COURSES. WHAT KIND OF ‘TEACHER’ ARE YOU?
My floral design courses are aimed at anyone who has a passion for design or flowers. I approach the courses as a designer using flowers as our medium of expression. I run courses in some inspiring places such as Glemham Hall, where my style of using flowers to enhance and enrich the interior really brings all my skills together. Occasionally I get a nervous attendee who claims not to have a creative bone in their body, but I maintain all of us have a unique creative sensibility, which, sadly for most, is left behind with their last art class at school. It just needs reawakening! We’re really looking forward to our Christmas wreath making courses at Glemham Hall this year.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE STARTING A BUSINESS?
When I first started Figa, the concept was over ambitious. I think realistic goals mean you won’t carry a sense of disappointment when things don’t turn out quite how you had imagined. Also be prepared to let things go that aren’t working. To add a perhaps contradictory note – dream big. The world needs dreamers.
WHICH FLORAL DESIGNER ARE YOU IN AWE OF?
My design inspiration comes from many areas. I love the overblown ambition of Preston Bailey, the architectural genius of the late Zaha Hadid, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s ability to meld landscape and nature into interior spaces.
YOU LAST HOLIDAYED WHERE?
Just last week in Southwold. I absolutely love it!
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO NEXT?
Venice is calling. I am getting to the age when I really should have been by now!
YOUR FAVOURITE SUFFOLK DESTINATION IS?
The far reaches of Covehithe beach. Wild, beautiful and unspoilt.
YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION?
Photographs of my children, the older they get, the more precious they become.
WHAT IS TOP OF YOUR BUCKET LIST?
To visit Japan in the blossom season. I adore Japanese design and art, so would love to immerse myself in the culture. To be there at the height of the blossom season would be my idea of heaven.
WHICH LIVING PERSON DO YOU MOST ADMIRE, AND WHY?
Aung San Suu Kyi, for her bravery, her grace and a lifetime devoted to democracy and human rights. Viviene Westwood for pushing the boundaries and creating a unique brand that has spanned over five decades.