Spotlight is a regular series where we feature a prominent person in the creative scene.
Northern Ireland native Mark Byrne has always been interested in art, design and creative industries – he hosted his first charity fashion show, raising money for Cancer Research, at just 17. While studying for a degree in event management at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, he worked on large scale events including the MTV Music Awards and Live Aid. On graduation, he followed another professional passion: international travel – the agency he worked for relocating him to Shanghai in 2010, where he launched The Flower Wall Company a few years later.
How did The Flower Wall Company come about?
I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and needed more creative freedom. After working for the travel agency eight years I couldn’t help but miss my involvement in the event planning and management industry. Shanghai seemed like the perfect place to get into events and try out various ideas and novelties.
In 2012 I took a leap of faith and started a consultancy agency with the backbone of events and weddings. Florals have always been a must-have at weddings, but it went to another level when Kim Kardashian got married to Kayne West in front of a stunning fresh flower wall. The pictures went viral all over the world, and it then became the undeniable trend for all kinds of celebrations, not merely weddings.
Fresh flower walls are incredibly expensive and have a truly short life span. So, I decided to research, design and create lifelike reusable artificial flower walls at a fraction of the price. We now have flower walls available for rental throughout China, and to buy in China and across the world.
How has the demand for Flower Wall evolved?
When we were just starting there was a huge demand for flower walls at events and weddings. We were pleasantly surprised how often we had requests to design a flower wall for different alcohol branding and launching events; as the components of many spirits are botanicals, a corresponding floral design as a backdrop for a launch or ad campaign has become very popular.
Later, we started to get more and more inquiries to design permanent interior décor installations. As social media was embracing the ‘selfie’ more and more, businesses found a brilliant way to advertise and grow their following by adding an ‘Instagrammable’ space. Having a flower wall in a store or coffee shop inevitably attracts more people to take a picture and share it on their social media.
However, one of our first interior design creations was for The Bachelorette’s star Ali Fedotowsky’s nursery. She did not want the room to be just a simple classic nursery, hoping to make it as flower-filled as possible for her baby girl. Since then we have created and designed flower walls for cafés, Michelin star restaurants, salons, hotels, SPAs and even corporate meeting rooms.
What is the most exciting event you have done?
We have had the pleasure of working with some utterly amazing creative people and companies around the world. We’ve had our flower walls at events with such celebrities as Paris Hilton, Kevin Hart, Kylie Jenner and more. Our walls have been used for multiple advertising and branding campaigns by famous names like Pretty Little Things, Match.com, Kohler and Lululemon.
However, my all-time favorite event is creating two stunning flower walls for Michael Costello’s New York Fashion Week showcase. It was absolutely overwhelming in the most positive way possible. Being able to be present at the event and witness our creations stun and wow the guests was an absolute highlight. Not to mention spending time with Michael Costello and getting the chance to meet some outstanding people from the fashion industry.
Mark Byrne and Michael Costello
What is next for The Flower Wall Company?
We are working on designing floral topiary products that can be used as a part of branding or as a decorative element for both events and business. We have also started designing floral dresses for in-store installation, window displays and ready to wear. What better way is there to make an entrance than to wear a dress completely covered with flowers?
How have you developed the business to adapt to the coronavirus situation?
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for any company mostly involved in the export market ever since Western countries got hit. And we are not an exception. Yet, when the situation stabilized here, we quickly decided that the only way to go for us would be to diversify not only our client base but also our product range.
We already had a few ideas in mind prior to the unfortunate COVID outbreak, so we are currently developing a few things. One is using our original prints on a range of fashion accessories; our flower wall photos work really well as a phone case or a tote bag print for instance.
Our main focus currently is creating a line of luxury artificial flower arrangements for home décor. We are focusing on bespoke, realistic looking flowers that can bring a fresh breath of life into a home. From colorful hydrangeas to classy calla lilies, romantic roses and cheeky poppies, we can offer a perfect floral piece for any space.
And we hear you are also doing workshops – how do they work?
Yes! We came up with the workshop idea before the October Holiday. We wanted to make it a fun DIY event where people get to learn a little about flower arrangement and create their own floral arrangement in a frame, kind of like a miniature version of a flower wall that could be used as a home décor piece.
We create a sample arrangement and have people recreate it with our guide step by step. The process is very creative and engaging; there are never two frames that look exactly the same. It is also quite different from working with real flowers, which comes as a surprise to many. It has been a huge success so far and we are planning to continue these workshops on a regular basis, adding more themed ones for the holiday season.
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[All images courtesy of The Flower Wall Company]