‘La Bella Vita’ Is a Floral Education Project at the Dream-Like Italian Amalfi Coast

Staff
10 Min Read

From May 20-25, 2024 the Amalfi Coast in Italy was the stage for an extraordinary floral education project: La Bella Vita. If you see who organized this event, it should make your floral heart beat faster. No one less than Max van de Sluis, Per Benjamin, and Vincenzo Antonuccio guided the floral designers with flair to a higher level. Here’s some inside information from Max van de Sluis, who was so kind to share all the ins and outs.

La Bella Vita

Perhaps you have already heard tales of the fairytale beauty of Amalfi, or you may have been so fortunate to pay this small town that lies 30 kilometers south of Naples a visit. Its breathtaking coastal scenery that is surrounded by dramatic cliffs makes it one of the most beautiful places in Italy.

This was the perfect spot for a team of floral designers to set up a 5-day course in floriculture. The team consisted of three world-class designers, all with a mile-long curriculum vitae: the influential top designer, floral teacher, and World Cup finalist Max van de Sluis, former World Champion and high-class event designer Per Benjamin, and interior designer, teacher, architect, and World Cup finalist Vincenzo Antonuccio.

 

From the left: Per Benjamin, Vincenzo Antonuccio, and Max van de Sluis in Amalfi

 

With the support of growers from Decorum Plants & Flowers, Marginpar, and Del Gaudio, H&R the Wire Man, Fior d’Acqua cooling systems, and the candles from Wiedemann, the event was secured of plenty of flowers and secondary materials.

Amalfi

Max van de Sluis about choosing Amalfi as the location for the course.

“If you want to create an atmosphere that would be fitting for bridal designs, you need the most beautiful location. We found this right here in Amalfi. Because we were well-prepared we were able to totally enjoy the amazing location, the training itself, and the enthusiastic participants.’

We were very happy with the beautiful assortment that Decorum, Marginpar, and Del Gaudio supplied. We wanted to show the beauty of flowers and how long you can maintain flowers in good condition in a floral design. You can see in the photos that we have been working outdoors practically all the time. It must have been a surprise to some florists how long flowers can stay well outside and in the sun with the right choice of support materials, such as simple tubes with water.”

35 Florist Students

The course was internationally orientated, and aimed at fellow-florists. The group we had consisted of thirty-five people. Mainly from Italy, but also from other countries like Denmark, Guatemala, and the USA.”

Jenny Thomasson (USA):

“I award myself the permission to take the time, focus, and funds in order to pursue my love for education. This year it was to venture off to Italy and study with three master florists. A single takeaway is always a thrill but this experience proved so much more than just one. Learning some new skills and connecting with other florists from around the world is what feeds my creative and human soul. La Bella Vita for sure!!!”

The Designing Tasks

The training started with a theoretical part to get the bigger picture of what was about to be created in the coming hours and days. We had prepared some sketches and mood boards with examples of designs we created over the past few years to show as many techniques as possible.

Task 1: The Terrace Fences

Max explains:

We wanted to show the possibilities of creating a flowery design in which we on one hand close off the space, but on the other still leave open enough space to keep the transparency and view from the terrace.

It took two half days to finish those creations. Then we evaluated the process; Look at how the designs were created, and what happens to the flowers. It was useful to discuss the creations afterward to make the techniques stick with the participants. This results in a better understanding of the processing and quality of flowers, like how to keep a peony beautiful all week long.

 

Task 2: The Beach Tent

Max:

“We wanted to create a relaxed and cheerful beach party without damaging the environment. For this, the students created in two groups a kind of ‘tent’ from greenery garlands that was surrounded by a giant floral wreath. No floral foam was used, just reusable wire

Yes, we had a cozy cocktail party on the beach that night!

 

Task 3: The Terrace Tables

Max:

“The final task was creating table decorations at the same terrace we already had made the floral fences. It was important to get an understanding of the area that you are designing in. Which flowers fit in? Which techniques and supporting materials are you going to use? If you have an event, just don’t put some arrangements there, but make it a part of the whole atmosphere. That’s the philosophy we try to transfer to the students. Next to that, we aimed to show as much diversity in this as possible.

To enjoy the fruits of our work, we had a candlelight dinner with all the students in this enchanting area. There was typical Italian music that made the perfect picture complete; a wonderful atmosphere.

 

Task 4: Bridal Bouquets

After the spectacular outdoor arrangements, the threesome tutors gave a workshop on bridal bouquet creations. First, showing techniques and examples of wedding arrangements, followed by the students creating bouquets on their own.

Max: The bridal bouquet was a freestyle assignment in which the students could choose their flowers and techniques.

 

 

Esthetical + Awareness

Max:

“The training was not merely about the esthetical aspects of flowers, but also very much about awareness of getting the most out of the flowers’ qualities through keen preparation.

We try to work as sustainably as possible because we think this has the future. This has to be from a realistic point of view, looking consciously at reusable materials.

 

 

The 5-day training was concluded by a roundtrip.

 

Katharina Albrechtsen (Denmark):

“It was completely a fantastic experience for me to be at the workshop at Amalfi coast working among so many talented florists. And it was the absolute perfect setting for a wedding event.

For me, I learned quite a lot by just seeing how people worked in different countries, techniques, colors, and styles. I got so much out of it and got many new flower friends for life. Max, Per, and Vincenzo had done so hard work to make a stunning setup for us; just loved it. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to have been part of it.”

Tips From Max

Everyone learns from these kinds of experiences, the students as well as the teachers. Max shares his learnings over the years as a floral teacher and event designer.

Max: “I am confirmed every time that there is no room for errors in your organization: preparing, planning, and logistics. That is the basis of any successful event, including a course like this.

And as far as a multi-day training is concerned: you have to think not only about the things I just mentioned but also about entertaining and nurturing the participants. If people are cared for, they are much more attentive and productive.

Finally, I would like to state that having a good team is key. It was wonderful to work with Per and Vincenzo on this one, implementing each other seamlessly.”

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