Expert interview: Marianne Guedin
Marianne Guedin is one of today’s most in-demand designers and scenographers. Having grown up on the Burgundy countryside, she graduated from École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs and got her design career underway in Paris in 1998. She now specialises in vegetal scenographies, artistic creations and designing objects.
You have a broad artistic spectrum. Where does your heart most lie?
My work is based around plant life, that’s what most inspires me. I grew up in the countryside. My mother did landscaping in our back garden and my father was a doctor – and also a magician! They both inspired me in my early years. I would say my heart is primarily energised by flowers, followed by contemporary art in all its forms.
You have achieved a lot of success with your artistic glass creations. What is the idea behind these?
I create blown glass vases particularly for presenting flowers. They are simple in form and reflect our collective memory, in the timeless way inspired by the Medici Vase and Brancusi’s “The Kiss”.
What are the ingredients of your success?
The ingredients of my success are a comprehensive education in the decorative arts of Paris, a formidable team, strong endurance and a continually burning passion. I look for excellence in every detail.
You design vegetal scenographies for prestigeous fashion houses and top-level brands. Is this interest in plantlife a hype or an environmental concern?
Flowers are part of our cultural heritage and lifestyle. The French don’t see them as a trend, but as a symbol of good taste. Now, my work just happens to bring all this together. For my customers’ shows and events, I stage plants, flowers and fruit to communicate emotions and get their message across. My profession is both creative and physical. Creatively, I develop moodboards to specify materials, colours and flowers. Physically, I am heavily involved on-site, selecting and transporting products, as well as assembling and dismantling displays. The viewer only sees the elegant side. I’ve stopped counting the number of buckets of water I move in a day! I also design objects – vases, candles, candlesticks – which brands distribute under my name.
Sustainability is a major topic throughout the economy, not just in the horticulture sector. Does this affect your work?
More and more customers are concerned about what happens afterwards to the plants used in their decoration. There is increasing demand for potted plants, and cut flowers are now sometimes given away instead of being thrown away, but it is quite rare. We do try to use seasonal, locally grown flowers as much as possible, but if a bride wants peonies in December, I have to source them from Colombia...
You used to work for nelly rodi, who is efsa’s trend partner. Do you still work with seasonal trends or hypes?
Of course, to please the greatest number of people, you must be in fashion. The colourful harmony must correspond with the desires of the moment. The same applies to how compositions are styled. I always take pictures of my flowers together, they make great patterns. I evoke the value we hold for our wonderful nature by incorporating lots of foliage, even weeds, in my compositions in an attempt to reproduce nature’s wildness. Nelly Rodi gave me some pointers on how to anticipate trends. And my art studies showed me how to create the future.
On the subject of hype: monstera leaves have been in our face for a few years now. How long will this go on and what is the next ‘hot plant’ or big thing?
Calathea leaves will certainly replace Monstera. These come in a great variety of shapes and colours, and have a very graphic, sometimes even surreal appearance.