Floral artist Heike Hayward stuns with her supersized arrangements
The creative behind Fleur le Cordeur uses fresh flowers on a grand scale to turn any event into surreal experience
If you've marvelled at a particularly epic floral production over the past few years in SA, the chances are it was one of Heike Hayward's creations. The floral artist behind Fleur le Cordeur, her designs are on an architectural scale and defy all the conventions we consider when it comes to flowers - it's floral couture designed to create an experience rather than decorate a space.
From an early age Hayward was encouraged to do things differently, courtesy of her mother, who taught art and crafts. A creative upbringing, combined with a childhood spent on a Karoo farm immersed in natural beauty, set her up perfectly for her eventual calling, despite a slight detour into IT.
"I have equally strong right and left brains, but during my time in IT I neglected the creative side of myself hugely," she says.
While her logical side allows her to run a strategic business, it's her creativity that has caused her to stand out from the crowd. In the early days she worked to a brief, but she's now being approached for her unique take. "I'm at a beautiful stage with my business when clients come to me for my ideas," she says.
Working on a range of projects, from launches and editorial shoots to weddings, floral courses and experiences, her designs have to be able to communicate anything from a brand message to a personally significant moment. She says that over the past five years clients have become more willing to push the envelope.
As a rule breaker herself, this willingness to rebel is exciting to Hayward, who relishes putting together unexpected combinations.
"I don't subscribe to being told you can't do something," she says. Her one rule is that she works only with fresh flowers.
Forging her own style has been the foundation of Fleur le Cordeur, and while Hayward is undoubtedly a trend innovator, she chooses not to track her fellow designers' work. "It's too easy to fall into a trap of comparison. Instead I trust my instincts and focus on my own development," she says.
However, she does draw inspiration from fashion and interior design. A recent visit to the Gucci Garden in Florence proved pivotal in terms of honing her focus. "It's inspired me to become even more artisan and detail-oriented in my approach, making every design as delicate, unique and couture as a Gucci garment," she says.
Dolce & Gabbana and De Gourney are other favourites, for their use of textures, layering, prints and colour. "It's the same principles that apply to floral design."
This intersection between fashion and flowers is a natural one that she hopes to explore on an international level alongside events she's planning with collaborators Anne Mann of Anne Mann Celebrates and Reyjeane Haroun of Maison Reyjeané.
With a wedding in Italy in May and some exciting prospects in the pipeline, Hayward is looking forward to taking her way of working abroad. "There's a huge opportunity to bring exciting and innovative ways of designing events to the European market, which is surprisingly still quite safe," she says.
With her gruelling hands-on schedule having an inevitable shelf-life, however, she's diversifying her skills in ways that won't always require her physical presence. Her textile range (napkins, tablecloths, aprons, cushions) is a way to enjoy her floral creations in 2D, while a new store in Stellenbosch with a partner is also on the horizon.