Beverly Zaruk initially planned for i fiori to be a workshop and design space, but her plans quickly evolved into designing the type of floral shop she would want to shop in. Her fresh flowers, plants and succulents, almost all of which are grown locally in the Niagara peninsula, will surprise and inspire you. And you’ll be certain to leave the shop with an arrangement as unique as you or the person they are intended for. "At i fiori we offer a full range of floral and plant design services," says Beverly, "Every bouquet from i fiori is a custom construction, I do not have stock bouquets." After spending nearly an hour chatting with her, I left with a simple bouquet of white tulips which Beverly and I agreed are both our favourite flower of the season.
What was your journey to becoming a floral artist?
I have studied and worked in several facets of design, beginning with clothing design in my twenties, then package design, graphic design and corporate communications, and ultimately floral design. I often say that floral design is only a quarter turn for me -- it relies on the same principles of proportion, balance, colour and harmony that I know and have worked with in my various careers, but it has the added dimensions of scent and emotion.
How did you develop your style?
I think that my style springboards from the flowers and plants themselves. They allow me to assemble colour and texture and scent in ways that can be formal, calm, organized, loose, romantic or organic.
What sets your floral design apart from others?
I listen to what the customer says. My first question is always for the sender to describe the recipient... it helps me to select flowers that will reflect their personality and maybe say a bit about how the sender feels about them as well. It requires a leap of faith on behalf of my customers. They do not see pictures of static designs or choose from a pre-set menu. Instead they get to peek into the fridge with me and trust that I will create something specifically for them. At i fiori we feature plants and cut flowers from Ontario greenhouses, only a small percentage of my cut flowers are imported, so the freshness is not just a selling feature, it is an integral part of my philosophy of design and horticulture.
Where do you find your inspiration for your floral arrangements?
I love the Dutch and Belgian designers. I think in my business they are the floral equivalent to haute couture. Often their designs are almost unapproachable. They frequently use unexpected combinations of flowers and plant material, but there is always something to be learned about balance and composition. It stretches your mind. To use the fashion example, you may not actually imagine wearing a Jean Paul Gaultier original, but you can learn volumes about structure, construction and hard tailoring from his designs.
What is your design process like when working with brides to design flowers for their wedding?
I always begin with the dress and have the bride describe it to me. It gives me an initial read on what they want to 'feel' like on their wedding day. Then I ask them to describe what the groom will wear, the attendants and then the venue. At that point I have a bead on the colouring and the focus of the wedding. I will ask if they have a flower preferance (what I refer to as the 'deal-breaker' flower), and then show them flowers that are readily available around the wedding date, and suggest colour and flower combinations to reflect their wedding theme colours and style. Every bridal bouquet from i fiori is a custom design.
What is your favourite flower and why?
Oh, my goodness. I think it changes with the seasons -- I love the silhouette of ranunculus at this time of year - but then nothing beats a large pot of white parrot tulips. For scent it would have to be freesia, mimosa or genista. Hands-down elegance goes to lisianthus...
I don't think you have enough time for this...
Can you offer any tips for flower arranging?
My advice would be to not go too crazy using too many colours or too many different types of flowers. That has the tendancy of looking messy and unfocused. Stay with two main colours/flowers, with maybe a pop of a third. A calming look is to stick to a single colour or tones of the same colour while using different flowers. And use interesting greens to accent and showcase your arrangement, there is so much more to choose from than common leather fern.