Innovative College student wins prestigious floristry award

Olivia Whitely, a third year floristry design student at Bishop Burton College, has won a prized award at this year’s British Floristry Association (BFA) Competition.

As part of the competition, the 21 year old from Harrogate, was asked to design a non-traditional bouquet. Using the world of ballet as her inspiration, Olivia created a unique bridal bouquet inspired by the lightness and shapes seen in ballerinas.

“I’ve always loved ballet - it’s so romantic and elegant; so to use that as my inspiration for a bridal bouquet was an obvious choice,” said Olivia.

She added; “Like a ballerina, I felt that the bouquet had to be light and delicate, and that’s what guided my choice of flora.”

The delicate bouquet was comprised of spray roses, orchids, brunia, chrysanthemums, kalanchoe and tillandsia and took over three days to create. Olivia not only constructed the bouquet, but also the unique structure that the floral masterpiece was displayed on. 

The award-winning masterpiece was created as part of her third year dissertation project. Olivia chose to explore floristry in a more creative and open way, looking at techniques in a new way rather than copying a traditional technique.

On looking at the other competitors, I felt very nervous as their design were very technical and all highly skilled,” said Olivia. “But what I noticed was that elements of each design had been seen before in other competitions or from other floral designers. I felt my approach was new to floristry competitions but never in a million years did I think I would win.”

Her design not only won best bridal bouquet award; it also won the coveted most innovative design at this year’s competition, beating more than 500 other designs to the title.

Ruth Robinson, programme leader for floristry said; “I’m extremely proud of Olivia on these two awards – she’s worked hard throughout her three years on the floristry degree programme at the College, and these wins mark a culmination of all of that hard work, determination and dedication. She is a fantastic designer and has an exciting future ahead of her. To win these accolades, for a university project at that, suggests she’s going to have a very promising career in floristry.  

The judges chose the design as the most innovative for its use of non-traditional floristry techniques including using fabric hardener, which is more commonly used in art and design, to create a sculptural effect to the design.

On the win, Olivia said; “I’m so pleased to have won the awards, but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the amazing support from my tutor Ruth Robinson. She has always been for me, encouraging me to push myself further and enter competitions like the BFA competition. I don’t know where I would be without her.”

Olivia will now take part in next year’s World Skills competition where she will compete with other young florists from across the country to secure the title of Young Florist of the Year.