11th May 2020
Over the years we, at the Barr Group, have had the privilege of working with some wonderfully creative clients; those who share our quest for design-led excellence and support our endeavours towards more sustainable methods of manufacture and build. None could fit this profile more than Claire Bowen, the hugely talented florist and writer, founder of ‘Honeysuckle and Hilda’.
Three years ago Claire and her husband Charles abandoned London-living in search of clean air and open fields. Speaking to them both recently (each having recovered from frightening episodes of coronavirus - documented in a thoroughly engaging H&H blog) they seem utterly contented with their ‘countryfication’ and more convinced than ever that it was the right decision for them both. The move afforded Claire the opportunity to start her own sustainable floristry enterprise, ‘plant-based in every way’! Growing flowers in her own cutting garden, using local suppliers and free from plastics, (floral foam is a no-go) she treads very lightly across our Oxfordshire fields!
Followed by many, ‘Honeysuckle and Hilda’ (named after her two little dogs) is a means of sharing a deep passion for floristry, through workshops, inspirational online snippets and an absorbing journal with like-minded lovers of flora and fauna. When, a couple of weeks ago, our trusty photographer Lucy set out on a solo mission to photograph the H&H studio we all awaited the resulting images with hungry anticipation. The StuartBarr CDR team had left the studio remodelled, renovated, painted and decorated some months ago and the design-minds amongst us were keen to see the ‘in-use’ results of their endeavours. We were far from disappointed! The studio was awash with blooms grown for the H&H spring workshop, which, although sadly cancelled (along with so many other events) provided a means of bringing the studio to glorious life – in the absence of real people!
Architect Peter Lee, of Lee and Ross architects, had worked on several projects with StuartBarr CDR over the past two decades and was just embracing retirement when he received a call back to action! Having previously redesigned elements of property in question, some twenty years ago, Peter was in a great position to revisit the cottage and its outbuildings - with a new set of requirements in mind. The project involved remodelling and renovation of the main house – which we hope to revisit at a later date. Peter (with extensive client input) redesigned the original garaging, with the brief of transforming it into a floristry studio. Light and space would be of the essence – as would the practicalities of cooling, hanging, watering and storing the precious, delicate, natural matter which would be its subject.
The build project was a mix of structural acrobatics and the creation of all important apertures. As always, the highest work standards to achieve the lowest carbon footprint both during the build and for the studio in the long term were of utmost importance. The project involved a significant amount of re-purposing of materials, very much in keeping with the studios vintage furnishing and features. A micro-screed concrete floor, traditional made-to-measure doors and windows, vaulted ceiling with exposed beams, feature timber cladding and specialist paint finishes by Bauwerk Colour were all part of a wonderful specification mixing pot.
We would like to thank the Honeysuckle and Hilda team (both the human and canine contingents) for allowing us to share their inspiring story and imagery, you can see more of this project here.