Alexandra Noble is a designer, creative and small business owner based in London. An Architecture graduate with a flair for botany, Alexandra has used her unique creative skill set and passion for the natural world to found a one-of-a kind printmaking business named Flowers & Foliage. Creating limited edition giclee prints of petals, stems and branches in abstract arrangements, her pieces serve as gorgeous link between the worlds of design and horticulture. I caught up with Alexandra to find out what inspired her original business idea and how she balances Flowers & Foliage with her work as a garden designer…
What does your work with Flowers & Foliage explore and who do you create it for?
I’m interested in the transience of nature and I enjoy the thought that my work captures and preserves that fleeting moment when an arrangement of flowers is at its best and most bountiful. The artwork has been incredibly popular with brides who wish to have their bouquets preserved in print as a lasting memory of the wedding celebration.
My inspiration comes from plant spotting excursions at gardens across the UK and further afield. Two of my recent favourite trips include visits to the Alnwick Garden in Northumberland and its orchard of 300 ornamental cherry blossom trees, and Sissinghurst in Kent, known for its rich history and Bloomsbury connections.
Where are you based and how does this influence you?
I currently live and work in Camden. Lifestyle-wise this allows me to run along the canal every other day, observing and enjoying the seasonal changes around me. I also love the proximity to Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill and Hampstead Heath. If my workload permits, I can usually be found exploring one of these places on a sunny afternoon.
Tell us about your journey into design…
After studying for art, maths and textiles A-levels at college, I completed a foundation year at Brighton University. I went on to study Architecture at Bath University whilst undertaking a few placements within the field of landscape architecture.
Whilst in the final year of my masters degree, I won a national competition to design a feature garden for the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, the experience confirmed my desire to opt for a career change and I moved into the landscape and garden design industry.
I moved to London shortly after graduating and joined a garden design studio. At the time I was studying for an RHS Horticulture qualification part time which taught me invaluable botanic knowledge. Since leaving the studio last October, I’ve launched Flowers & Foliage and started working on freelance garden designs of my own.
What does the word ‘successful’ mean to you?
Living a balanced life.
Tell us about some of your favourite projects…
A favourite project of mine was a very recent one. I was commissioned to create an edition of 28 prints by a large corporate company to represent notes of an upcoming Mediterranean fragrance. This was the first design I’ve ever created that incorporated fruit into the circular motif rather than just botanics.
Since the inception of Flowers & Foliage I’ve also relished collaborating with florists such as Rowan Blossom, Flowers by Daisy and One Flew Over Flowers, to create one-off pieces. The results are usually very different from my commissioned bridal pieces and they’re always creative, spirited and wild.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on several artwork commissions as well as acting as a landscape design consultant for a large garden in Hampstead. I’ll also be returning to the RHS Hampton Court Flower show this year as part of the planting team for the butterfly dome.
What kinds of challenges have you faced while working for yourself?
The biggest challenge for me has been the eternal juggling act. During free time at weekends the temptation to spend the spare hours answering emails and the like is always there. It’s tempting to get more done so there’ll be more time during the week. It’s an unhealthy but all too familiar habit.
What’s your work/life balance like and how do you kick back when you’re not working?
I love the meditative aspects of walking and gardening during the time when I’m not working. For me, there’s nothing more relaxing than exploring nature, whatever the weather. I also enjoy visiting gardens immensely. I’ve recently booked Eurostar tickets to France in August to view the resplendent water lilies in Monet’s garden at Giverny. It’s going to be the perfect Gallic getaway!
What’s the best advice you could give your younger self?
Be curious, be restless and push yourself because no one else is going to do it for you.
And what tips might you give young creatives and young women trying to forge their path?
Stay determined and remember the best way to predict the future is to create it.
Where can we find your work and follow what you’re up to?
The best place to follow my working process is over on my Instagram pages @alexandra.noble for gardens and @flowersandfoliage for print projects. You can also find my work on my Facebook page and all my prints can be seen there too.
Words: Emily Beeson | @boogiemargaret