Danish studio Tableau takes flower arranging to new heights


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Once a refuge for prehistoric sharks, crocodiles and a vast coral reef, the limestone quarry of Faxe Kalkbrud in eastern Denmark today stands out for its pristine, plankton-free pools reflecting the hues of the cliffs chalk and sky above. Floral designer Julius Værnes Iversen chose the quarry as the backdrop for the images in this story, playing his vivid florals and avant-garde design pieces against the overarching earthy features of the quarry.

Iversen is the founder of Tableau, a multidisciplinary design studio based in Copenhagen that uses flowers as the main medium and thrives on material contrasts. His concept store, in a 19th century building on the upscale Store Kongensgade, was designed by local architect David Thulstrup and defies all stereotypes of a luxury florist. The ceiling and walls are stripped down to reveal weathered concrete, the podiums are crafted from architectural materials such as terrazzo, glass bricks, and perforated metal, and there’s vinyl flooring underfoot, in a electric blue almost Yves Klein, which has become Tableau’s signature.

The flower arrangements are just as eccentric: shortly after its creation, the studio met with viral success with a series of monumental baby’s breath clouds; other installations featured bundles of exotic flowers interspersed with more humble varieties such as reindeer moss and asparagus fern, often in bright colors, and arranged on scaffolding. The bouquets are an exuberant juxtaposition of natural and colored flowers.

“I love scaffolding because it’s a selfless structure that exists to maintain the beauty of something else.”

An untitled Tableau installation in Faxe Kalkbrud, featuring tulips on a steel frame

Considering Tableau’s innovative spirit, it may come as a surprise that Iversen’s experience with flowers is as traditional as it gets. He joined his family’s more mainstream chain of florists, Blomster Bjarne, two decades ago, at the age of 12. He later became its accountant, before taking over the reins alongside his brother Magnus in 2015, following the death of their father. But Iversen longed for an additional creative outlet, a platform that would allow him to reconcile his passion for art and design with his floral expertise. Already he was recognized for his “weird floral installations” created under his own name for Danish fashion houses. With Tableau, he was able to push the boundaries of what can be done with flowers.

The opening of the store provided an opportunity to launch a series of product collaborations, combining floral inspiration and alluring industrial aesthetics. First, a team partnered with local interior brand Ikon for a series of rectilinear containers made from square ceramic tiles, with a removable water reservoir to ensure functionality. With Carrara-based Bloc Studios, Tableau transformed scraps of marble into floral decors: the marble is roughly cut on the outside to preserve its raw beauty, while cylindrical cavities allow the insertion of brushed steel pipes sealed to the outside. one end – the original collaboration in 2019 put Tableau on the international design map, a second series was released earlier this year, and the two studios now have plans for a full tableware collection.

Vases with brushed steel pipes and bases in Nero marquina marble, beige Botticino marble, white marble, Egyptian yellow marble and gray stone, from DKK 5,053 (€ 677), by Bloc Studios x Tableau

With time and recognition came more room to experiment. A new collection of 12 vases with textile designers Röd Studio, titled ‘Cornucopia’, sees brushed steel pipes contrasting with hand-tufted wool sleeves with unusual color combinations and eerie details, including skirts in horsehair and threads springing from artificial pearls. The concept may sound garish, but in practice the collection is inviting to the touch and possesses a singular elegance, accentuated by a campaign shoot in Denmark’s oldest pastry shop, Conditori La Glace, whose treats inspired the titles of the pieces. individual.

Vases from the ‘Cornucopia’ series, made from hand-tufted wool handles, brushed steel pipes, horsehair and pearls, from DKK 4,500 (€ 605), by Röd Studio x Tableau

Iversen’s bold design approach, alongside large-scale installations commissioned by Normann Copenhagen, Christian Louboutin and Georg Jensen, as well as a 2020 Wallpaper * Design Award, have resulted in increased requests for collaboration. More recently he worked with Laurids Gallée, Austrian graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven, on a collection of resin pots. with bubble wrap printed on satin and inserted into a ready-made stainless steel frame, giving a surprisingly contemporary touch to a species of flower the Danes often associate with their grandmothers. The next “Sit on It” stool, by architect Poul Høilund, with a seat in Tableau electric blue (available either in oak, patinated by the Brdr Krüger carpentry workshop, or in mink, courtesy of furrier Mikkel Schou) is featured exclusively in this photoshoot. ) and supported by a trio of brushed stainless steel cylinders, as well as a rug, in collaboration with Stockholm’s Nordic Knots.

A pair of ‘Sit on It’ stools, one in stained oak, the other in mink, on brushed steel, both prices on request, by Poul Høilund x Tableau

Iversen is proud of the enthusiastic reception that Tableau has found with an elite clientele, and with good reason. But he also wants to democratize his production. The rotating art and design exhibitions in the store, which are free to access and continued throughout the lockdown due to Tableau’s categorization as a florist, provided much-needed creative food for denied Copenhageners trips to galleries.

Recent headliners include fancifully shaped wooden shelves and podiums by furniture designer Anne Brandhøj, and ceramics by Norwegian-Danish duo Pettersen & Hein, inspired by superbloom, a rare botanical phenomenon of the desert in which dormant wildflowers germinate and bloom simultaneously. Iversen personally organizes the program and designs all the floral elements in the store to be a part of every exhibition.

“The idea is that someone who could not buy a work of art can always take part of the exhibition home by buying flowers.”

Album cover and music video set designs by local musicians are also in the works, along with a print section on the Tableau website, launched later this year, featuring both fine art prints and posters. Iversen sends flowers to 15-20 artists and designers around the world, who will use them to create images exclusive to Tableau. A first submission by Frederikke NørgÃ¥rd overlays photographs of the same bouquet taken over 27 days, a poignant testimony to the passage of time. His title, Vemödalen, is a word coined from The Dictionary of Dark Sorrows which describes “the fear that everything has already been done”.

It’s an experience shared by many creative people, but one that Iversen has certainly overcome with his groundbreaking work in floral design and beyond.

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Rosalie M. Dehner