The news this week has been both happy and sad. Our Monarch’s 90th birthday was a great reason to celebrate, whilst the passing of Prince, the American musician, was a great sadness.

Apart from these events happening within twenty-four hours of one another the casual observer might not see any commonality between these two great personalities. You might also be asking yourself why I would be writing about them on my blog which ostensibly focuses on interior design.

The answer is PURPLE! A colour that is regarded as regal and one that was championed by the diminutive pop star.

M&S flowers

M&S flower display

Towards the end of my interior design studies I was presented with the task of designing  a flower shop for my Preliminary Final Test. The design process I adopted was to explore various ideas and to assemble them into a sketch book. I loved this particular project and gathered many fanciful images and contemporary news items.

Sketch book - Sarah Raven's cutting garden

Sketch book – Sarah Raven’s cutting garden

Sketch book purple inspiration

Sketch book purple inspiration

Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee 2012

Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee 2012

Taking inspiration from over-sized flower arrangements that adorned Dutch cafés; from the wonderful Caledonian flower market in London; and many, many stalls and florists in my locality.

I toyed with many different wall and floor finishes from bare brickwork to distressed plaster to stunning Fired Earth tiles and digital imagery. I scoured Toast catalogues for moody backdrops, Sarah Raven sales literature for her extensive range of classic blooms, and Cox & Cox for carnival-like wedding themes. Terracotta pots, galvanised buckets, over-sized gilt mirrors, chandeliers, and chalkboards all had a place in my scheme.

As my research progressed my thoughts turned to the events that had dominated that year, 2012. In late July I was glued to my TV watching the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, and only a few weeks before the country had turned out in force to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee (60 years on the throne). The streets were filled with red, white and blue for both events. Prince William & Kate Middleton were also in the news celebrating their first wedding anniversary. It was a great year for parties!

Flower shop mood board

Flower shop mood board

Quoting from my sketch book I had written: To create a look and feel for this project I have started to think more seriously abut the UK and its unique character. I started to think more in terms of colour schemes to reflect our Monarchy – rather than the obvious colours of the national flag I was thinking along the lines of purple or red.

I developed this theme further and wrote: I started to think about English produce and the benefits of only selling locally grown blooms rather than importing from other European countries or further afield. It would no doubt impact on what we had become used to; no more tulips in the shops at Christmas, instead there would be berries and evergreens, wreaths and swags. The benefits of this would be both ecological and economical. It would reduce the carbon footprint and, without the import costs, reduce prices. This would become the unique selling point of the shop.

Flower shop scale model

Flower shop scale model

So, QUEENS the florist was conceived. With a magnificent purple shop-front and gold lettering spelling out the name it would stand out on the High Street and beckon passersby through the door. Floor to ceiling displays of all types of flowers would provide a clear processional route around the store.

Distinct areas catering for children, husbands/boyfriends, and ladies-who-lunch. Pocket money posies at low-level, conveniently positioned pre-wrapped bunches with self-service check-outs for those in a rush, and a manned counter to make bespoke bouquets at the back of the shop for those special occasions. QUEENS would ensure that there was a budget and service to suit all!.