A couple of week’s ago, I spent a really lovely day with Helen Osgerby, founder of the beautifully curated online store Simple Shape.
I met Helen last year sometime, I can’t remember when exactly, but we had a cuppa and a chat, I already knew that I loved the products Helen selects so carefully for Simple Shape, but I really warmed to her too. We met to discuss a plan that didn’t end up coming to fruition, but I think despite this we both knew that we wanted to work together somehow. And so after a few emails we arranged a telephone meeting; we discussed the pieces that Helen has in the Simple Shape collection, and my love of floral styling and photography, and how we could combine the two. When it dawned on us, that a table set for a meal would be the ideal showcase, even better than that, an al-fresco (ish, well you can never trust the British climate) dining scene would be perfect.
I thought it might be interesting if I shared my process leading up to the actual day, as a kind of behind the scenes look at preparing for a styling job. After we decided that we would be going for an outdoor (but covered) eating scene, I set up a private Pinterest board that both Helen and I could pin images too. This was a great way of ensuring that we both were thinking along the same lines and for me to get a really good understanding of the kind of feel Helen would like. We both pinned images of al-fresco meal scenes, along with inspirational photos showing colour schemes and lifestyle shots.
Next we set about finding the perfect venue. As I have already mentioned we thought it best to find somewhere with cover, which was very wise as it turned out, because there was a massive downpour half way through the day! So after a bit of research, we really did find the perfect spot, a gorgeous old out building/barn at Upper Lodge in Sussex.
Helen and I had one final telephone conversation, whilst Dottie painted me and the entire room in blue paint (perhaps paint isn’t the best distraction to give your 3 year old when you want to make a telephone call)! We talked over all the finer details, the images we had pinned and why we liked them, roughly decided on flowers, a colour scheme, what Helen would need to bring in terms of products and also any extra props.
During that conversation, we talked about using cow parsley as it is in season currently, and also of having some kind of flower installation to add interest and give height to the scene. Shortly after our chat, I spotted a big cluster of it by the road, this gave me the idea to hang it from the beams, creating a cow parsley cloud. We had also agreed that peonies would be a beautiful addition, so I ordered them along with the fox gloves for the vases in the centre of the table.
On the day, Helen and I snuck up to Devils Dyke near my home for a bit of flower foraging first thing, and then headed up to Upper Lodge. When we arrived, we started with the cow parsley installation, I simply tied linen string around each stem, and Helen very kindly balanced on top of a wobbly ladder to hang it from the beams. I then arranged the remaining flowers in the vases, and placed them along the table before we set it.
Quite a few photos later, (it’s hard to stop when everything looks so gorgeous), we dismantled the scene and I styled a few other shots using various different products that Helen had brought with her.
It would be almost impossible to style the hand-crafted items that Simple Shape stocks badly, Helen has a great eye, but I have to say I was pretty pleased with the results. Everything came together beautifully, the location was lovely, the stock was perfect, and the flowers were, well pretty as a picture!
Helen also took a few photos during the day, including some of me in action I believe, if you fancy seeing them pop over to the Simple Shape blog. Whilst you are there, make sure you look at the films in some of her early posts, they are really inspiring.