Earlier this year I discovered Petalon, run by Dalston based florist Florence Kennedy alongside her urban bicycle manufacturer husband James of Kennedy City Bicycles. The Petalon premise is simple-each week she designs two bouquets depending on what she’s drawn to at the flower market, sells each bunch for a flat £25 (£40 for a bigger bunch) and donates £1 of each sale to bee charity Capital Bee. Oh, and they deliver straight to you across the whole of London on just two wheels. Brilliant.
Me being me, I jumped on her with plans to meet up and take some shots of her workspace as soon as was humanly possible, but with one thing and another (the couple getting married for one!) it took months for us to get our acts together, until one gloriously sunny afternoon in August I made it to a stunning former warehouse in Dalston. What a space. Oh, and did I mention how absolutely fecking gorgeous they both are? I mean…
We cross paths at the door and Florence invites me in as she packs the delivery bike with the last orders of the day; an explosion of purple country blooms wrapped in the signature Petalon black and white striped paper. Walking in from an anteroom filled with buckets of stems I find James at his desk finishing up the route for the afternoon’s deliveries, surrounded by his custom bike frames, tires and tools of his trade. It took me back to visits to the bike shop as a kid, picking out my next ride and the smell of brand new rubber and leather.
Florence comes back inside to see James off with a few instructions, and then we’re on our own to chat whilst I snap away with my camera. My angle for the feature was to focus mainly on Petalon and Florence’s passion for flowers, but as I look around I see there’s a lot more to it than just a combined workspace-there’s a small kitchen area, a comfy couch and collections of succulents thriving on the windowsill. This is their home too.
The Kennedys are taking the idea of working from home and fully embracing it with their Great Dane and giant teddy bear, Huxley, who I meet dozing out in the courtyard garden. He’s quite disinterested in me and the neighbours are about to begin a yoga class. Every inch of their warehouse unit is working hard to function as a duel purpose space. Just above James’ workshop on a mezzanine floor is their bedroom where a leather lounge chair sits bathed in light from a full height metal framed window and the open-plan kitchen and living areas are zoned out with furniture as opposed to solid walls. The bare bones of this building are unabashedly on display; from the brick walls painted a bright white and original metal panelled windows to the concrete flooring. It is perfectly imperfect, rough around the edges and beautiful with it.
Just a short time ago, Florence was feeling unfulfilled at a desk job. Coming home every evening to seeing how happy James was in following his passion for bikes, she decided she needed something to focus her attentions, a small scale project that she could manage. After a disappointing experience ordering flowers for a colleague she almost stumbled into floristry as she began to think up ways to make choosing and ordering flowers more enjoyable, with stylish, simpler choices. And thus, Petalon was born. With her freeform style and natural ability to select beautiful varieties and colour-ways, she’s clearly found her calling in life.
Have you spotted the ThoseWho-Petalon print I blogged a few months back? Mine is just waiting to go up in our living space now!
We get on to talking about favourite flowers (hers are anemones-a girl after my own heart) floristry courses and future plans for an organic flower farm. I suggest she show me how to pull together a quick arrangement. Out come two metal buckets packed with wax flower, statice, flowering mint, thistle, anemone and giant chrysanthemum. She talks me through it…
1. Start by choosing a hero flower on which to build your bouquet-she picks out a deep, wine coloured chrysanthemum.
2. Begin adding in texture; here she adds some flowering mint and eucalyptus leaves.
3. Rotate the stems as you go, overlapping them in the direction you turn to allow a more even look.
4. Add in some of the smaller blooms such as the anemones, wax flower and statice, always rotating as you go.
When you’re happy with it, hold it securely with one hand and wrap it with twine to hold it in shape, then it’s ready to pop into a vase or give away.
I love the home that Florence, James and Huxley have created for themselves here; from the little nick-nacks they’ve picked up on their travels, the Indian cookbooks and reclaimed vintage furniture to living amongst their working lives. It all flows.
Thank you for having me. X