Isabelle Sun 孫運萱
THE EARTH LAUGHS IN FLOWERS. 世界它在花中笑.
Florette is a place that doesn’t belong to this world. It’s quiet, sophisticated, relaxing, inspiring. And beautiful. Imagine a small factory turned florist shop – it still has an industrial vibe but fresh flowers make it soothing and comforting. The perfect place for a Sunday afternoon.
“几束花”这个地方美得仿佛不属于这个世界。它安静又精致，舒缓又充满灵感。无比美丽。想象一下把工厂改装成花房 – 工业气息尚存，然而新鲜的花簇又使这个地方轻松舒服极了。简直就是周日午后的完美驻足之地。
Isabelle Sun is, together with her husband, the soul – and owner – of Florette. Born in Taiwan and educated in New Zealand, she moved to Beijing to look for a job as an architect. She found the opportunity to open a one-of-a-kind flower shop, which is more like a temple.
Quite and discreet, Isabelle offered me an extremely good iced tea and we had a lovely chat. Mostly about flowers.
Why are flowers so important in people lives?
Flowers themselves are not important but including them in our lives is a beautiful beginning to remind us about time, seasons, love, and appreciation for the wonders in nature. The process of caring for the blooms and foliage is also extremely meditative and rewarding. For this reason, people have been arranging flowers in one form or another since the beginning of civilisation. They are the delightful messengers from the landscape that tells us the changes in seasons, and remind us of the fleeting time. How can you not love the ephemeral nature of the flowers that bloom only once a year to claim our admiration and adorn our homes?
Flowers have always had an important role in my own life. Almost every family in NZ has a garden, and they all enjoy all sorts of interactions with nature. My mother was even nicknamed ‘busy bee’ by our neighbours as she spent most of her days in the garden, and our home always filled with fresh flowers.
How did you choose the location for Florette Florist?
As architects, we have been trained to constantly seek perfection and beauty – or at least be idealistic. We have an ideal working environment in our mind to nurture creativity and to be inspired, with ample open indoor space and preferably close to nature. Our list of demands was way too long for any rental agents in town. But we were ‘lucky’ enough to stumble upon our little cottage after a disappointing location hunt. The derelict red brick cottage, creeper-clad chimney, and over-grown yard were love-at-first-sight. We saw the potential immediately and could picture it as a perfect incubating ground for our dreams to work on our design projects, and to bring the most natural floral arrangements to Beijing.
作为建筑设计师，一直以来我们都被训练去寻找毫无瑕疵的美 – 至少理想的状态是这样的。我们心中的理想工作环境应该是有足够的室内空间，同时又贴近自然，这有利于激发创造力和灵感。我们的要求多到北京任何一家地产中介都吃不消。然而，经过一系列令人沮丧的选址经历后，我们幸运地找到了属于自己的小院。废弃的红砖房，直入云霄的烟囱，杂草丛生的院子 – 我们第一眼就爱上了这里。在这里可以孕育我们的梦想，给北京带来最自然最用心的花艺.
Who is your average customer?
Florette is very proud to have a lot of customers (now friends) who are true flower lovers, and they all share our belief that flowers are not simply gifts for specific festive or memorable dates, but are a part of our daily lives. Many of our customers purchase flowers for themselves and are more than willing to spend time and use them to decorate their homes and offices. They are curious about the ever-changing floral and foliage varieties in our flower fridge, and eager to find out how they bloom and transform over the course of their lifespan. We also collaborate with many international fashion brands, corporate clients, and friends from the media – with them we often create stunning floral decorations and vase arrangements for fashion shows and magazine shoots across Beijing.
What is your most important milestone so far?
We have been involved with unbelievable events over the past year, they still seem unreal to this day! We hosted China’s first Kinfolk Gathering ever in our own backyard, we worked with Christian Louboutin and Vogue for their annual dinner event at Rosewood, we offered our assistance to countless magazine shoots in our flower-filled workshop, we have even been featured in Louis Vuitton City Guide – Beijing… every day is a milestone for us. But perhaps the most exciting moment is when people travel across Beijing and even across China with their hand-made sweets to share with us their love for flowers and their inspiring stories.
Do you see any similarities between working as an architect and as a florist?
Both roles demand a lot of observations, intuitions, attention to details, knowledge of available materials, and the ability to see the ‘big picture’ (and are both extremely labour-intensive but equally rewarding).
Who is in your team right now?
Florette has a core team that works on brand maintenance, creative and art direction, event design and planning, and media relations. The other equally important half of our team is responsible for all things relating to floral design and making, and management of our daily operation both online and offline.
Which future do you see for Florette?
Florette believes we can reach out to everyone in Beijing (and China), to bring the most natural pieces and arrangements into people’s lives. With every small but original event held in our Living Room, we hope to meet and be inspired by people with the same beliefs – living and enjoying a ‘slow’ life that is close to nature and close to heart.
Busier and busier with flowers, Isabelle still works as an interior designer – her office right upstairs from the florist shop. I guess this is where her inspiration would come from anyway.
I love Beijing. When you think you know it all, when you start calling yourself an ‘expert’ it kindly sends you someone to remind you there is so much more to explore. Today it was Isabelle and her Florette.
Circa un anno fa Isabelle Sun ha aperto, insieme a suo marito, un negozio di fiori in un quartiere residenziale di Pechino. Si tratta di un posto magico – riutilizzando una vecchia fabbrica, Isabelle ha dato vita ad un luogo magico dove passato e presente si ricorrono. Dovreste davvero prendere un aereo e venire a dare uno sguardo.
For all the pictures, special thanks to Isabelle Sun.
Translation by Vivian Zhou.