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The Avant-Garde Flower Designer

At special occasions like weddings and birthdays it feels as if there’s something missing if there aren’t plenty of flowers. And the same is true at important events like celebration dinners and special ceremonies. Flowers will lift the occasion but the arrangements will generally look very similar. To overcome this ‘sameness’, floral couturier, Priscilla Kayo, has developed a completely new approach to the subject by designing flower arrangements that reflect a given theme and therefore enhance the overall sense of a special occasion.

Photos by  Bagus Trilaksono and Julius Kayo

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It was just a year ago when I first met Priscilla Kayo through Raffles Jakarta’s personnel, who had been raving about her amazing talent. The hotel wasn’t wrong.

Priscilla has been working with Raffles since it opened – creating stunning flower designs for all the public areas in the hotel. I engaged with her beautiful design mind immediately and suddenly, we did five events together!

Under the brand BStudio, Priscilla Kayo started her journey in 2008 as a small retail flower shop, located at Oakwood Mega Kuningan, offering small flower bouquets to walk-in customers. Over time, BStudio grew successfully to provide a wide range of floral services ranging from private dinners and weddings to large corporate events. With her avant-garde approach, Priscilla creates breathtaking decorations with a strong concept and artistry that enchants her customers and guests alike. Drama and scale, subtle elegance, from artful posies to full-scale installations, Priscilla and her team have done it all.

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With a team of experienced florists who have been in the industry for more than 10 years, BStudio has won a Bronze medal at a prestigious national floral competition in October 2016, against 250 participants nationwide. This leading ‘boutique’ floral studio has established itself as one of the most lauded companies in town when it comes to flowers. Priscilla’s flower displays have featured at a number of high-profile events, including the “I Love Indonesia” dinner at La Moda restaurant hosted by Plaza Indonesia for the celebration of Independence Day last 2017, “Indonesia Opera Society 11th Anniversary” soiree at Raffles Jakarta, Amanwana private dinner at the Hungarian Ambassador’s residence, a DBS Bank private dinner featuring Michelin-starred Chef Enrico Bartolini, “130th Year of Legendary Service of Raffles” at Raffles Jakarta, and our own “Indonesia Design 14th Anniversary” last December at Raffles Jakarta.

After working together with Priscilla Kayo on several projects, I decided to sit with her at her flower shop in Oakwood and get to know more about her creative mind.

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iD: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Priscilla Kayo (PK): Born in Hong Kong, I spent my childhood there until I was 17 where I absorbed the dynamism of the city. Then I went to Australia to study Economics at the University of Sydney where I met my husband-to-be from Indonesia at the same school. Then, for more than 30 years, I worked as a professional in the financial services and Information Technology sector in Indonesia until I found my true calling in the world of design. In all the companies that I worked for, though my main responsibilities were in system integration and finance, somehow I was always asked to take up additional roles to look after the aesthetic side of the company from corporate branding design, office renovation to even small things like gift wrapping.

 

iD: When did your fascination with flowers start?

PK: Since my childhood, I’ve had a passion for flowers, plants and all other elements of nature.  The high school that I went to was located on a big plot of land with a garden full of plants, flowers and fruits. We had a wonderful gardener and I still remember how hard he worked to maintain the place for us. I can remember picking raspberries to eat at school just like in the country-side. We had domestic science classes when we would pick flowers and leaves from the garden to make simple table decorations for our cooking lessons. It was a wonderful experience.

At home, although I lived in a small apartment in Hong Kong, my mother always made sure our house was clean and tidy and we always had plants on our balcony and flowers in the living room. For festive seasons, especially the Chinese New Year, my father would take us to this huge flower market to buy flowers and my mother would then arrange them all around the house in pretty vases. When I first came to Indonesia, I was stunned to see the abundance of all the exotic and beautiful flowers and plants we have here which are outrageously expensive in Hong Kong. I was so excited that I started buying all these local flowers and at one point turned my house into ‘a garden in Bali’. The feeling was sensational.

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iD: What inspired you to be a floral couturier? And why flowers?

PK: My professional work in the IT and financial services sectors were stressful and demanding with long hours, tight deadlines and mandatory examinations for certification.  On the other hand, the tantalizing smells and colours of flowers and leaves had always inspired me. Therefore, I always pampered myself at home by making flower arrangements to express my inner soul. Sometimes I escaped from the burden of my office work by “painting with flowers”. There were many occasions when I bought lots of different types of flowers and leaves and imagined that I was “conducting an orchestra” with flowers. Those moments were fascinating. I also like to give small gifts to business associates, colleagues and friends and flowers are always the preferred choice because they are the best medium with which I can convey the message of joy, condolence or other greetings.

 

iD: What is the character and philosophy of your design?

PK: My design elevates texture, colour and shape to become more than just a flower arrangement within a space – rather it is a vibrant and inspiring art form, fostering new movements in creativity.  It is always designed to make a mark on even the boldest of rooms. It is authentic in ways that are best experienced first-hand, always unmistakably Priscilla Kayo, and distinguished by outstanding craftsmanship.

Every design must have a message, without that it will be like a dead person without a soul. Every design must have its own distinct character. True creativity has no boundaries. To achieve this, one must have a dedicated and sincere enthusiasm for disseminating the beauty and richness of the flowers and plants used. Personally, as a floral designer, I do not want to be influenced by fleeting trends. Instead, I follow my own path and my own beliefs and experience. Having said that, it doesn’t mean I turn my eyes blind to other designers. I choose designers from different disciplines as my mentors by doing intensive research on their work and trying to understand and absorb what makes their work stand out.

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iD: What can you tell us about your design approach?

PK: What truly separates my design from others is a creative, and yet uncompromising, disciplined approach. I treat my design process in the same sense as painting, sculpture and floral art. I train my team to breathe my creativity, soul and character into every design and event we do. Together with my team we go through an arduous process of refining the design, trying our best to re-discover and re-create each arrangement so that it will create a magical experience with lasting memories for the client and their guests. I strongly believe that excellence lies in the details to create the most refined results, therefore, each design must go through a coherent development process as if it was a technical discipline. Even if an arrangement is just a small part of an event, or just for use for only an hour, we will still spend days or even weeks on the design.

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iD: What is your personal take on a good design in general?

PK: Understanding the soul of the floral art form. To be open-minded so it will lead to unimagined horizons, fresh perspectives, and clearer focus. Don’t copy, dare to be bold, think out of the box.

 

iD: And your plans for 2018?

PK: With an unlimited passion for flowers and the skill to convey emotions through flowers and plants, BStudio’s ever-growing customer base and increasing acclaim around town over the last few years mean that we are planning to scale up the company and set the standard even higher. And we plan to offer a wider range of services by partnering with passionate people with remarkable experiences and track records in the lifestyle space to offer

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