There’s a heavy sense of old world romanticism connected to the work of Mary Lennox. Her floral arrangements could grace the cover of a Joy Division album, but just as easily work centre stage in any fashion magazine. Expat Australian now living in Berlin and the talent behind alias Mary Lennox, Ruby Barber has been doing extraordinary things with flowers for almost ten years.
At the forefront of a new floral styling resurgence, and with almost 50,000 followers behind her on Instagram, Ruby wants people to see flowers in a new light, with sensitivity and imagination. She is elevating floral arrangements to real art and we’re all for it. We sought her out after an ungodly 4am pick up to find out more.
Your work is engrossing and has a real sensitivity and creativity that the world of flower styling doesn’t usually associate with.
Thank you. I really think the produce itself brings that engrossing quality, but we take extra consideration and time with sourcing unique flowers and plants. Styling allows us to work with specialty flowers that wouldn’t suit a retail or home environment. We’re able to capture them at their most enchanting and beautiful moment. I prefer an aesthetic that isn’t ‘over designed’ and I also like projects were flowers are a complementary addition and are playing a part in creating an overall mood rather than drawing all the attention.
Where does your flower persona, Mary Lennox, come from?
Mary Lennox is a character from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. By chance, my first studio also found itself on the corner of Mary and Lennox Street in Australia. The story illustrates the positive effect of nature and that is something I witness daily.
What caught our eye is the partners that you’ve worked with, inclding some unorthodox names such as electronic music festival Berlin Atonal, Nike and even Mercedes. What is the hardest thing about briefs and bringing floral arrangements to life for the public brands?
I like layered projects. The best results are achieved when you have a dialogue between design disciplines to create something cohesive, but unexpected. It is so valuable to have an exchange of ideas and creative input from others because it allows us to think of flowers in new contexts and evolve our approach. Working with a perishable medium is probably the most complicated aspect about realizing and communicating ideas through nature. There are obvious limitations to what can be achieved, but It is such an interesting time to be working with plants and flowers. Botanics are being used as a tool to communicate and the language is more relevant than ever. I really never know what is around the corner for us.
People like to keep up to date with you on Instagram. You have a healthy 50,000 followers. What has social media taught you about your own industry?
It is amazing to see how many different ways there are to work with flowers and how different people find their own signatures and areas of expertise. It is such an encouraging environment and I owe a lot to the people who have shown an interest in what we do. Response from social media constantly educates me about what people find beautiful.
What are the trickiest flowers to work with? And which are your favourite?
I prefer working with flowers in situations that aren’t governed by vase life. The most special flowers, and my favourite ones to work with, are often fleetingly beautiful and best used in a styling or event context.At the moment, I love gardenia, camellia and lily of the valley.
Feature image: Mary Lennox for Margova Photo: NICOLAS CANTOR
Check out more of Mary Lennox here