Dutch Master Florist
Flower Arrangement training, also known as the Master Flower Arranger (or Dutch Master Florist) course, is very much the showpiece of the industry.
It is the highest distinction that can be attained in the world of flower arrangement. The Foundation for Flower Arrangement Training (SOB) – in The Netherlands – launched its examinations in 1959. The aim was to give leading arrangers the opportunity to demonstrate their special skills and to be acknowledged as a member of an elite group of florists.
Recognized Master Flower Arranger.
Lamber de Bie obtained the right to use the above symbol in 1992 when he finished his education to become no:285 as a recognized Dutch Master Florist at the Sierteelt Vakschool in Vught in Holland.
My journey in becoming a Dutch master florist
Many people assume that Accredited Master Flower Arrangers (Dutch Master Florists) is a step by step process of enhancing your professional skills, the results of which are apparent in ever more impressive arrangements. This is basically true, but the road I followed was a great deal more complex in practice. Students undergo a process of change (learning), during which they absorb information like a sponge, though often without knowing what to do with it. Standards can actually drop at this stage with the realization that what they knew before is not enough, while what they have recently learned has yet to be fully assigned.
To avoid sounding to vague, I will try to describe what this process of learning and change actually meant for me. The best place to begin is with the florist’s basic material, the plant.
The nomenclature (names) of plants and their morphology (characteristics) are the building blocks of our trade. The more plants you know and the more familiar you are with their features, the bigger your artist’s palette. This process of learning (often “by heart’) and understanding never really ends, given the variety of nature and the many new cultured varieties that appear all the time. Our understanding of the world (biotope) of vegetation is constantly evolving too, and this is another field with which the arranger ought to keep up to date.
A second aspect dealt with by the training course is composition and theory of forms. One of the main objectives was to develop an understanding of the theory of forms and the associated floral vocabulary. Simply saying a piece is ugly or attractive was no longer acceptable – henceforth, such statements had to be supported by objective arguments, which gradually replaced subjective taste judgments.
Colour theory, drawing and three-dimensional design work with non-plant material are three elements of the course in which we were made to forget about plants and flowers and to study design in its totality. This teaches us to explore our own potential and limitations. The benefits of all this work became apparent when it was thereafter applied to floral arrangements.
The art appreciation element is important because of the awareness of historical ideas it communicated to today’s flower arrangers. Great emphasis was placed on how and above all why design was approached in a particular way in the past. A statement from one of my tutors that I will never forget best describes this part of the course; “Once a person has learned to see, they are never the same again. Things that have been designed in an interesting way will always grab the attention”.
Practical work, finally, allowed us to get our hands on plants and flowers. It is here that all the different strands of knowledge are woven together to produce individual floral pieces. Dialogue and discussion between instructors and students was often as important as the actual designing and creating of the work. This is were comments and discussions fed us all into raising the quality of subsequent work.
After intensive work on all these aspects of our fascinating craft, I ,and with me most college students, found our self changed – not only in a professional sense, but also as an individual.
To be a Dutch master florist
Being a master florist means recognition of study, work, change and intensive contact with fellow students.
It also means, however, that the arranger is thrown back on his or her own recourses, returning to where he or she started – the every day practice of the flower shop and/or training others. So what do I do with all my creative ideas? How do I communicate my knowledge, persuade customers to appreciate the quality we can offer and find the opportunity to do so?
Artists in other disciplines face the same problems. How many fine artists produce brilliant work that remains unsold in their studios? How many composers, poets and sculptors have excellent creations that are all but unheard, unread or unseen? And even then they have the advantage that their works are not perishable.
As a Dutch Master Florist I am aware that it is a lifelong duty to stay ahead by continuously opening my eyes wider than I have ever done before and by experimenting without fear.
I believe that keeping abreast of new trends and assimilating them in our own high quality products will keep me young always.
I would like to express my gratitude, to all florists whose efforts over the years have contributed so much to our craft, to the fact that I have been able to study at the best college, learn from the best tutors and work with the best co-students.
I am grateful for the wonderful businesses we have built with the help of a fantastic team and lots of appreciating customers.
Lamber de Bie
Dutch Master Florist