If any of you are lucky to have gone to Henley Regatta, then you would know what a special occasion this boat race is. This was Hiding in the City’s first time at Henley, and we felt so privileged to be a part of the quintessentially famous English event. We were approached by Ollie from ‘The Hidden Garden’ to help him create a magical party to while away the hours watching the race and supping champagne in the sun.
Hiding in the City Flower’s was brought on board to help soften and dress the marquee in a natural manner to create a beautiful and elegant space for the guests. We worked closely with Charlotte from ‘The Hidden Garden’ to bring the ‘garden’ aspect into the marquee design. Charlotte was keen to ensure we didn’t create the obvious. She didn’t want lavender and foxgloves, instead Charlotte had a vision of a very chic environment based centred around a colour scheme of lemon and green. During our planning meeting with Charlotte she showed us an image of a dress she had seen and wanted the staff to wear and from this we worked collaboratively to create a design concept that used lots of statement pieces.
Our first job was to select the trees we would use to decorate the space. We went for Mediterranean styled plants typically found in Italy Tuscany, obviously we needed wild lemon and olive trees so opted for larger imposing specimens to really help define the marquee spaces. We coupled these with more refined topiary bay trees and buxus balls to add a contemporary twist.
Marquees can be pretty cavernous white spaces so we wanted a key statement floral feature on every wall of the marquee, each different in design to help kill the white space. We had this amazing ancient apple tree that we tracked down in Kent, full of lichen and wonderful character. Her original plan was to be used for another job earlier in the year, but we ended up needing a larger tree. So, this was her debut, and we were so pleased to use her as this seemed like the perfect event for her. Faux oak leaves were attached to create a natural apple tree growing against the side of the marquee. On the adjacent wall we created an overfilled urn which stretched out onto the ceiling and up and over, creating a wild overgrown design.
We also wanted to create an overgrown ceiling installation to really feel like you were in a wild secret garden. We used XXL ivy pots with a length of 2m-2.5m of lovely dripping foliage’s, and hung them from the marquees ceiling, clustering them for maximum effect. When hanging these plants, we had to think about the visual throughout the space and hung at varying heights in different areas, so the overall visual was a hanging ceiling of ivy.
Over the bar we hired an Eddison bulb chandelier from one of our favourite suppliers as it’s a super modern and imposing choice to for any marquee event. Around the bar we strapped on wild English foliage, intertwined within a clematis vine structure.
The last area to think about was the VIP area. These guests were paying considerably more for these tickets, so we had to make them feel special. We decided to create a statement over hanging structure along the glass roof of the marquee area. This structure could be seen from the river, so this was a clever way of drawing passers-by’s attention to their event. We built the base 4m long structure back in the studio using a and strapped on some beautiful knobbly branches that had been donated to us by a Japanese florist earlier in the year (thank you). We wanted these to be seen once built fully as part of the design. We used a mixture of dried elements such as pampas grass and bleached ruscus foliage in large sections. We included pops of yellow from dried achillea stems in clusters for added texture. The overall look was truly magical and ethereal, especially how all the dried elements moved so gently by the wind outside. The dining tables below were dressed with gold bottles full of foliage and super cute yellow craspedia balls.
So many sections, up ladders on a scortio day…it was one of the most labour-intensive jobs of the summer with all those heavy plants, but it was definitely one of the most enjoyable. We’ll have to back again next year to Henley, hopefully we’ll get invited again, or we can always sack off the heavy lifting and buy a boat race ticket.