Masters of floral artistry, Ost father and daughter play with the ephemeral nature of their craft with glorious aplomb, shunning the shackles of time to create the most stunning living, colourful displays. We caught up with artistic director, Nele Ost.
You are artistic director of the family company founded by your father Daniël. Tell us what your job entails.
Floral creation is a demanding, meticulous profession, where every aspect must be determined to the nearest millimetre. We work hand in hand with interior designers and landscapers to come up with a product, a floral identity or to decorate an event with flowers. You need to be constantly on the lookout for new ideas, and also work with the seasons, like the greatest chefs. We take the beauty of flowers to instil a touch of escapism and inspiration in peoples’ lives. And when the pieces of the jigsaw come together in perfect unison, it’s the greatest reward you could ever wish for.
You have been surrounded by flowers since your earliest memories. What exactly does this floral universe mean to you?
I love the variety that comes with the territory, and the different flowers, colours and materials we work with. Also the freedom to fuse an array of styles in the arrangement we come up with. It’s our duty to ensure we source flowers and accessories of the finest quality in order to devise the most stunning creative displays.
What are the greatest challenges you face in your profession?
That’s a trick question! People come to us for a unique piece. Our flowers are bespoke and each time we have to adapt to our client’s brief and personality. So constantly striving to be original brings huge pressure, while at the same time preserving the ethos of our family business, handed down to me by my father. I need to find my way, without erring too far from our history, innovate while honouring our values. And all this without succumbing to the latest trends; for me it is more important to find your own style and stick to it, which is the greatest challenge of all.
I love the variety that comes with the territory, and the different flowers, colours and materials we work with.
What is the inspiration for your arrangements?
Each work is unique, from a small posy a child gives to its mother, to a floral display for a desert wedding commissioned by a Sheik. A floral arrangement must be memorable, have strength in the minutiae of detail and convey emotion in a unique way. People only see the end result of our creativity and cannot begin to imagine all the work, precision, imagination and rigour it entails. I live and breathe for this and don’t think i could be without it.
How do you find this inspiration?
From observing in the most intricate detail. I travel extensively and soak up absolutely everything around me, wherever I happen to be. I love spending time in local markets, eating in restaurants, and generally wandering around as the mood takes me. I love talking to people too and absorbing their culture; whether its food, fashion or decoration, there is always something inspirational to capture and discover. And for this, France is a great starting point; every year I spend time there with friends, as we are all great fans of wine and champagne.
Does a profession founded essentially on something so short-lived bring a different approach to life?
Yes and no. We need to consider life like flowers. As if it were fleeting in fact. Once a flower is picked, it begins to fade, which is inevitable and we can do nothing to change it. Which given their fragility and beauty explains why we should treat them with love and respect. Even if we can live quite comfortably without flowers, I cannot imagine my life without them.
Ost was founded in 1978 by Daniël and Marie-Anne Ost with the launch of their inaugural boutique in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium. Today, Ost has three shops to its name, with a fourth due to open in Jordan. The team scours the world to find the rarest, most precious species, and to fulfil the most diverse briefs, from family dinner party to fashion show.