No longer the bridesmaid
An exhibition of floral arrangements at 'Imaginative Cloud' seeks to inspire creativity and sustainability
Some 3,000kg of baby's breath flowers decorated a wedding reception under the concept of "The Flower Nebula". After the reception, Chayawat Panjaphakdee, better known as "Joe Rainforest", the managing director of Rainforest Thailand and Rakdok, did not want to trash the flowers. When Seacon Square Srinakarin asked him to design a flower event for the MUNx2 zone, dubbed an "artibition", or an area for an art exhibition, he came up with the idea of a floral show titled "Imaginative Cloud" and reused the baby's breath flowers from the wedding to design displays in eight locations.
"Since I had to design floral displays for the artibition zone, I wanted to bring in artistic pieces. I then saw the work of the artist, Chris Judge, who created intriguing characters based on the shapes of clouds. That inspired me to create the exhibition 'Imaginative Cloud'. I designed floral displays based on the shapes of whales, penguins, elephants, monsters and ghosts. However, if children can visualise different images from these floral displays, it would be great. This is an activity that encourages children to use their imagination," he said.
"Baby's breath flowers were used at that wedding reception because they fit the concept, 'The Flower Nebula', referring to flowers which have the appearance of giant clouds of dust. I used baby's breath flowers from the wedding reception to create clouds and inserted other flowers to add more colour to the creation. I intended to create cheeky characters, so viewers will smile or laugh at them. I do not want to make formal floral displays; I want to create vibes of ease," said Chayawat.
Since Chayawat works in an industry that requires creativity, he hopes that "Imaginative Cloud" will encourage children.
‘Imaginative Cloud’ reused baby’s breath flowers from a wedding reception. (Photo: Suwitcha Chaiyong)
"I hope children will learn to use their creativity. Floristry and wedding planning are full of imitation. I would like people to develop their own ideas. Imitating others is a good way to learn, but they should later try to develop their own ideas and figure out their own signature design," he said.
Chayawat stands out for his designs since he helped his friend create flower walls and chandeliers for a wedding. After his friend posted photos of her wedding reception on a website, many brides-to-be looked him up because they wanted him to design flowers for their wedding receptions. At that time, Chayawat was a full-time flight attendant. He later had many work offers to design wedding receptions using his floral concepts. He eventually became a wedding designer and organiser.
"My friend who was a flight attendant at the same airline told me that her wedding budget was too low to afford famous florists. She asked me if I could design flowers for her. My flower arrangements were different from others at the time. In the past, many clients wanted to have pastel flower decorations at their weddings, but hotels mixed pastel flowers with green leaves and as a result, the flower displays no longer looked pastel. I, however, did not use any leaves. My flower wall was full of pastel flowers and the flower chandeliers were made with peach orchids. After that, peach orchids which did not sell well became popular," Chayawat explained.
"My design has three dimensions. In the past, florists created designs that were meant to be viewed from only one perspective, but I realised that photographers could take photos from any corner of an event. Thus, the flower arrangement and display must look beautiful from every angle. When photographers take photos of my flower designs, there will never be any flaw," said Chayawat.
In 2017, Chayawat worked with Pak Klong Talat Community to create "Flowers For Father" to pay tribute to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Six floral arches that he designed attracted 2 million visitors and many millions saw the tribute via social media.
"People from Pak Klong Talat Community asked if I could help them design a flower tribute to King Rama IX. I told them that to create a grand visual impression there should be flower arches which extend from one road to another and also another arch for the public to participate in creating. Thus, the arch titled Thai People was a location where people could contribute flowers for decoration. 'Flowers For Father' encouraged me to create floral events. When I design wedding receptions, people who visit are in the thousands, but floral exhibitions can reach more people and take place over a longer period of time," said Chayawat.
In 2020, Chayawat created "Save The Date: RakDok Floral Week(s)" at Hua Takhe Market, Chachoengsao. He designed picturesque flower installations in a café, a guesthouse and an art gallery at the market. The highlight was a wooden boat surrounded with purple statice blossoms.
"I chose Hua Takhe Market because it was close to King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang. I hoped that 100 to 200 students would visit the event per day. However, 3,000 to 4,000 visitors came each day. Unexpectedly, the event became a trendy attraction. We had to create queues for taking photos," he said.
"After that success, floral events have been organised nationwide. The trend of floral events can go up or down, but whatever the situation is, Rainforest and Rakdok will continue their work. I am glad that people realise how useful flowers are. In the past, flowers played support roles in events. I am glad that we can make them become the main character."
People may be surprised to know that Chayawat reused baby's breath flowers for "Imaginative Cloud". However, he has been concerned about the environment since studying in Hawaii. At that time, Chayawat took a class which helped him realise that routine activities such as washing clothes, doing dishes and taking a shower have negative effects on the environment. Hence, he tries to practice sustainability. He is now growing fancy leaf caladiums to replace flowers.
"Fancy leaf caladiums require fewer chemicals than flowers. People may think that floristry does not have a negative effect on the environment because flowers can decompose, but actually floristry indirectly causes environmental issues because of the transportation and packaging involved. Five years ago, I used 200 to 300 boxes of foams for arrangements. Currently, we have changed from foams to wire mesh cages, so we have reduced a lot of plastic waste. Moreover, wires can be reused and are more durable than foams," said Chayawat.
As a wedding organiser, Chayawat hopes that young couples will be more concerned about the environment.
"I think the best gift that married couples can give their children is a good environment and fresh clean air. Therefore, they must start doing something for the environment. Sustainable practices are not easy, but necessary. If everyone can do at least 10%, it is better than doing nothing."
"Imaginative Cloud" runs at Seacon Square Srinakarin, MUNx2, until Feb 14. Admission is free. For more information, visit facebook.com/RakDokChanne and facebook.com/MUNX2.