Le Grand Tour is in full swing, inspired by Victorian bourgeois, Alpine flora, mountain botanicals and the classic cycling routes of continental Europe. We sat down with French Alp native David, the floral artisan behind FROG, and our palace’s biggest ever installation…
What a blooming brilliant installation the team FROG have put together! What was your inspiration behind this year’s floral art?
Thank you! We took a lot of inspiration from the natural Alpine mountains with a focus on subtle flowers and foliage. I’m from the French Alps so it was lovely having that connection to the project.
“I’M FROM THE FRENCH ALPS SO IT WAS LOVELY HAVING THAT CONNECTION”
J’adore. Inside our Schloss has also been touched by FROG, The Study and chandeliers in particular, how did you decide on what to bring in from the outdoors?
Through our research we saw that Victorian’s would own plants that looked like palm trees to boast their wealth. The gorgeous 3.5-meter-tall ones you see in The Study were imported from Holland and influenced by Victorian smoking rooms.
It really is as iconic as Albert’s Schloss.
Totally. Schloss has been an incredible platform for us to showcase our work. Having two parts to this year’s arrangement gave us the opportunity to wow people not only with the entrance, but throughout the venue! With FROG being such a collaborative team, it has been a wonderful experience for us, especially in a city like Manchester which thrives from its creative community.
“THE PALM TREES IN THE STUDY WERE INFLUENCED BY VICTORIAN SMOKING ROOMS”
Holland!? Are all of your plants & blossoms shipped from there?
Our flowers are shipped from suppliers all over the world. 60% come from Holland with our more exotic plants hailing from either Kenya, South America or Singapore. For Le Grand Tour, we actually brought in most of our flowers from West Cheshire!
Keeping it traditionally British we see… what do you love about our English blooms?
There’s nothing too perfect here so we like combining the organic, rugged botanicals and marrying them here with the authentic Schloss brand. We see that Schloss already offers a feast for all the senses with their visuals, food, drink and entertainment, so people already know what to anticipate. FROG’s aim is to become a part of that journey whilst also bringing guests into our world and joining the experience through our plants & blooms.
We’re obsessed. With the brief of inviting Alpine mountain flora to our fair city, could you tell us about the process of bringing it all to life?
The collaboration between FROG and Schloss has been so exciting. Overall, it’s been a two month process from researching, designing, drafting, shipping and constructing the flowers. Most importantly, we had to remember to design based on the logistics of putting it up throughout the night.
We saw you battling the cold along with some pretty fierce winds from the early hours.
We worked over the course of three days from late Sunday evening through to Tuesday night. It was exceptionally windy, but we wrapped up with plenty of layers! I loved it.
As they say – do what you love, right?
Yes! I don’t just enjoy the final product in 3-dimension, but seeing the whole process through with the added pressure of a deadline excites me! Plus, Albert’s Schloss trust FROG with what to create which gives us a lot of freedom. It’s such a nice way of working!
“MANCHESTER AS A CITY ENCOURAGES COLLABORATION WHICH IS EXTREMELY EXCITING”
So, as we’re sure you’ve noticed, the reaction to Le Grand Tour’s floral grandeur has been huge. With thousands of likes, comments and shares across the board, can you pick out any memorable nods to the installation?
There have been so many kind words shared with us about it. I remember a lady who had seen our installation in a taxi driving past Schloss, she’d followed us on social media and found our studio in the Northern Quarter. She came in to admit that she didn’t really like flowers, but was really touched by it all.
“I SEE THAT SCHLOSS ALREADY OFFERS A FEAST FOR ALL THE SENSES – IT’S ABOUT JOINING THE EXPERIENCE”
Now, David, we’d love to hear about how the fashion, design and art-inspired creative came to be Manchester’s go-to floral extraordinaire.
Thank you, but I’m not that cutting edge! I’d always been creative but didn’t know what to do with it. I came to the UK 20 years ago to improve my English and worked in a bar where they would have fresh flowers every week. At the end of work I’d take the flowers home and arrange them in vases for parties to host my friends and family who would tell me to become a florist.
And now you are the best… How did FROG then come to be?
I started working in a flower shop but didn’t enjoy the commercial side of it, so decided to take appointments where I could work on bespoke projects for people. I found over time that I was best at being able to capture what someone wanted with a free-spirited way of working.
As a creative, it must have been hard to know when to put your business hat on.
Definitely. The business has grown as organically as the flowers! But it hasn’t been easy. When I first launched FROG, the recession had just hit us. Luckily we still gained a lot of work with weddings and got through it stronger than when we started. I wish I could be creative every day, but as FROG establishes a brand with my talented team growing, I have to accept that the boring numbers are going to be part of it!
Finally, we have to ask, why the name ‘FROG’?
“BECAUSE I AM FRENCH. I THINK IT’S BETTER TO TAKE THE MICKY OUT OF US BEFORE ANYONE ELSE.”