The Mysterious Power That Flowers Posses
On a quiet side street in the Meiji Shrine/Harajuku area, there is a small, inconspicuous flower shop. The name of this shop is The Little Shop Of Flowers. This shop has garnered the support of many people for its unique suggestions that not only incorporate the beauty of flowers, but express their fragility as well. Owner Yukari Iki originally worked in both the interior design and PR fields. She says that she had no previous knowledge of flowers. So why did a woman like that become so enchanted by flowers? She was most likely compelled by the mysterious power that flowers inherently posses.
Flowers act as a memory switch.
ーMrs. Iki, please tell us what made you think of starting a flower shop.
Iki: I use to work in the interior design and PR fields, but at some point, I started to entertain hopes of doing something that would allow me to express myself in some way. Because of that, I thought that if I could acquire some skills as an expressive person myself, along with doing my PR work, I would be able to expand my sense of value both work-wise and personally.
ーSo it seems that you chose flowers as your means of expression.
Iki: That’s right. But, it’s not that I started out really loving flowers, or even knowing how to take care of them…. I used to do PR under the theme of “one brand per industry”, and thought it best not to interfere with existing brands. And it just so happened that nobody was doing flowers. That’s it. So, while doing PR during the week, I started running a flower shop on the weekends. It was really tough at first. (Laughs.)
ーSince you started out without knowing what to do, how did you learn?
Iki: While fumbling around, trying this and that, I steadily obtained the knowledge required. Other than that, I think the biggest thing was being blessed with great people around me. An acquaintance that is really knowledgeable in flowers would make hand-written, text-book-like notes for me, and friends would buy various books on flowers for me. I am who I am now specifically because of their support.
ーIn addition to raising flowers at your shop, what else are you currently focusing your attention on?
Iki: Enriching colors and incorporating a sense of the seasons. I really like colors. In college, I studied architecture, so I produced interiors as three-dimensional drawings. Despite drawing them, I was really into using watercolors and markers to make them look like photos. It was an American college, so I had a language handicap. I probably compensated for this through colors.
ーThat color expression is even incorporated into the flowers?
Iki:Yes, that’s the result. For example, even if I am making a bouquet with pink as the base color, I arrange various shades of pink to express the pink color. By doing that, it gives it a more graded look, and gives it a richer, deeper hue than just using a single pink color.
ーThe flowers you arranged for the United Arrows’ Pink Ribbon Campaign also utilized many colors.
Iki:That was a simply a single pink color. I did not want to apply a “precise” feel to it. If I am expressly requested to do a job, I want to somehow incorporate a part of me into it. The Pink Ribbon Campaign was supposed to individually send a message to many women, so it had to be acceptable to a variety of people, and I infused a bit of by personality into as well. It was not easy, but nevertheless, I somehow did it.
ーWhat do you mean by “incorporating a sense of the seasons”?
Iki:I try to use seasonal flowers. Japan is a country rich in the four seasons, so I want to create things that give off that feeling.
Iki:For me, it started when my child was born and I received tulips from various people. It was right in the middle of spring. When my child turned one, I happened to see some tulips on the side of the road and thought, “Ah! One year has passed.”. It somehow warmed my heart.
ーIt’s like that unexpected moment when you hear a fondly-remembered song, or smell a particular scent, and it brings back old memories.
Iki:Right. So, I try to use flowers that you can only savor during a particular season, as much as possible. I don’t know if it’s because I come into contact with many flowers every day, or if it’s come with age, but strangely, I have gradually come to like wildflowers and pretty little flowers.
Bringing flowers to us.
ーThe Little Shop Of Flowers also has a shop at the Beauty & Youth United Arrows Shibuya Cat Street Women’s Store. How do you perceive the relationship between “fashion” and “flowers”?
Iki:By having a flower shop inside of a clothing store, it makes the flowers seem more familiar. Flowers also act as great enhancer to clothing. I think that this mutual relationship is made up like that.
ーYou mean they compliment each other?
Iki:Yes, that’s right. It expands the sense of value for both shops. That’s the very positive image that connects us. I think that we have a very good affinity with each other.
ーYou originally worked in the fashion industry. Do you utilize the same sensibilities that you used at that time in your current creations?
Iki:No, it’s not like that. I am not someone who makes things. My role is to support those that make things. If I have to say, then I would say that I probably utilize those sensibilities when creating concepts. Fashion brands have themes every season, right? They are “inspired by some movie or book”. A long time ago, I had a conversation with a designer about concepts like that. I learned about repeatedly getting input. Flowers are the same. I repeatedly talk with a customer before creating a bouquet, etc..
ーAnd that means?
Iki:Through conversations with customers, I find out what kind of person they are going to give the flowers to, or what would make that person happy, and then make it. When I first started the flower shop, it was often called, “the flower shop that asks too many questions.” (Laughs.) Even now, I create an image in my head of the person who will receive the flowers by asking things like what kind of movies they like, or what color they like.
ーIn an era of such material abundance, receiving flowers made in such a way, seems like it would double the pleasure of the recipient.
Iki:Yes. It brings about an abundance of feelings. You receive them, decorate your room with them, and take care of them so that you can enjoy them for a long time. It gives you peace of mind, or perhaps I should say, makes your life a little better. I feel like flowers have the power to do that.
ーLastly, please tell us what kind of existence you feel you have with “flowers”.
Iki:I wonder if they brought be back to being a normal person. Before I opened the flower shop, it was like I was adrift in my life and I had somehow lost sight of myself. During this time, choosing the “flower” option allowed me to newly discover the path I should be on. There were many things I wanted to learn, and many things I needed to learn, before I finally became familiar with things. The things that made me realize that there were still things to come after wearing out thirty years of my life, were flowers.
Yukari Iki is the owner of the flower shop, The Little Shop Of Flowers. She opened the shop after working in the interior design and press industries. She has developed a unique arrangement style that treats flowers as products to be used for everyday gifts for things like birthdays and weddings, and as decorations for bigger events like exhibitions, parties, and weddings. The main shop is set up in the yard of an old Japanese-style house in the Meiji Shrine/Harajuku area.