Archive: Clearly So – Social Business for CEOs Conference 2008

In 2008 Thinking Flowers? collaborated with Catalyst Fund Management and Research – now called Clearly So. A company very much in line with our ethos, Clearly So helps social entrepreneurs raise capital in order to grow the social investment marketplace and help build a more social economy.

I was commissioned to provide table floral installations for their Social Business for CEOs conference. In contrast to many social sector conferences, Clearly So focused on providing practical advice for the day-to-day business challenges and opportunities facing senior managers in this growing sector, not just on networking.

Clearly So still provides regular monthly sessions, A Tea Time Q&A, for anyone from budding to fully-fledged entrepreneurs to attend with questions, problems or just to listen in on advice and trouble-shooting. Their next session is on March 12.

The installation we created for them encompassed the nature of their mission to be a catalyst for social investment, mirroring our desire to create global change by positive investment in ethical supply chains. All flowers were selected by ethically sound suppliers Fair Flowers & Plants.

The installation was designed using purple and white Vanda Orchids, reflecting the former colour scheme of the company.

When doing research for this project, I was inspired by the colours and textures of the orchids i found at New Covent Garden Flower Market

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The orchids would rest in glass globe-like bowls which represented the planet, its circular movement and the idea of continuous change which we believed complimented the type of work done by Clearly So.

Catalyst sketches

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Archive: Entreprise Centre for the Creative Arts 2005

The Enterprise Centre for the Creative Arts, now known as Student Enterprise and Employability for UAL, was one of our first weekly contracts and was exactly the type of venture that Thinking Flowers? aimed to collaborate with, bringing together our fields of interest – creativity and business. ECCA gave its users the opportunity to innovate and supported them through mentoring, funding, seminars and practical business workshops.

In 2005, having noticed the beautiful glass corner office they had, located inside the London College of Communication building, I pitched with them for a regular table top floral installation. We thought it would be a great opportunity for our designs to be widely viewed and to create a positive impact for the staff and students.

The contract allowed deep critical thinking around the design, aesthetics and influence of the environment on our installations – ie. site-specific designs. In addition we could think about the purpose of flowers in our work spaces and how we could combine our installations with the ethical practices that embodies Thinking Flowers?.

While a decade ago the idea of ethical practices that involved both social and environmental concerns may have seemed out of place in the business world, and were perhaps a little wacky at the time, Marice Cumber, who was the director of ECCA at the time, nevertheless gave us a chance. We were nominated for the ECCA’s Best Social Enterprise of Ethical Business Award in 2010.

The images below are a selection of some of our favourite table top installations.

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The space being quite clean and open allowed for a lot of experimentation. We were going through quite a green period and used tall elegant green goddess calla lilies and steel grass to form layered textures in different hues.

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Green Thistles, Ivy, White Roses, Steal Grass, fountain grass, Hypericum, Veronica

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Gloriosa Lily, Bottle brushes, Grevilla

The office interior was sleek, modern and with colourful highlights, yet remaining somewhat industrial. Reflecting this in the above design, the use of the black vase suggested black ink in the context of an office environment and contrasted with the bright gloriosa lilies which bring light and colour to the room. The use of inky blue gervilla fitted with the wispy language of the emu grass (asparagus fern) and bottle brushes.

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Tropical plants such as heliconia and anthurium were common in our designs at the time and we still love to use the Rainforest Alliance for these, for example in at the V&A Fair Trade Floral Design workshop that we curated.

Good Deals Conference

The Good Deals Conference was held at Southwark Cathedral on 28 November and at Vinopolis on 29 November. The keynote speakers were Jonathan Greenblatt, Head of Social Innovation at the White House and James Featherby, author of ‘Of Markets and Men’. We love working with Good Deals because there isn’t a better feeling than knowing that there is a movement towards a conscious effort to invest for returns that are greater than just economic.

Within the arrangements we used black pebbles as they are symbolic of the stepping stones ethical businesses take to become investment ready. The colour black here is used to represent the infinite possibilities that await the investors who are prepared to risk the new and unknown. Black Vase - Spray paint We wanted to echo this air of excitement by using magenta orchids.Small Vase - Orchid In this case, the orchid flower represents the symbiotic relationships that ethical organizations have had to develop with investors and each other in order to survive.Coffee Table

The line and form used in the installation placed on the stage was created to reinforce the simplicity and animated use of stick men in the Matter and Co graphics for the event. So for us, the light-heartedness of the graphics and the unconventional use of line is about freedom and the opportunities that can be created when this is mixed with calculated risk.Stick Men