When Frances Harjeet—founder and design mind behind local floral-decor studio Prema, which specializes in crafting romantic arrangements for events and weddings—decided to parlay her love of all things botanical into a new collection of party ware and home accessories, she couldn’t have imagined just how much joy her colorful designs would bring to the marketplace. But now, as we search for bright spots in days filled with uncertainty, we’re all discovering the impact a simple arrangement of fresh flowers can have.
Each one of Harjeet’s new designs—which adorn recyclable and sustainably packaged party plates, cups, and napkins, plus art prints, books, and more sold under the brand Frances H. Designs—features blossoms and foliage left over from Prema’s coveted floral arrangements. Rather than allowing them to go to waste, Harjeet turns these bright bits and pieces into cheerful flat-lay patterns, photographs them, then applies the images to functional objects that can be enjoyed long after the real blooms have faded. Here, Harjeet tells us more about what inspired her Spring 2020 collection, which is now available online, and what we should look for next.
5280 Home: What inspired you to make use of extra flowers in such a practical and creative way?
Frances Harjeet: In the wedding industry, we often do collaborative, styled shoots to create social media content and inspiration for our clients. This isn’t paid work, so I always try to make the most out of all the flowers I buy for these shoots. One way I did this was by cutting off the heads of flowers once the large arrangements were photographed so that I could style other images with them. Soon I started making styled patterns using just the flowers and leaves; I would post these on Prema’s Instagram account and always got a great reaction from my followers. One of my friends, the ever-positive and creative Kimothy Joy, repeatedly told me that I could turn these designs into things like wrapping paper or wallpaper, and one day it finally clicked: Why not give it a try?
How did you decide to start with party ware?
We decided to launch with paper plates, cups, and napkins because I thought it would be a good way to test [the market’s] interest in the aesthetic and vibe of the designs. I also felt strongly that I wanted to create a line of products that showcased my work at a more accessible price point than what I offer with Prema. The energy and intention with which I started Frances H. Designs is rooted in my belief that flowers bring joy, and I hope that this company provides me with a broader avenue to share that with a greater scope of customers.
Are the floral compositions you create for Frances H. Designs similar to those you make for Prema?
My floral flat-lays tend to be quite sweet, cheerful, and bright! The elements that really tie together my work for Frances H. Designs and Prema are a creative exploration of color and an emphasis on specialty floral varieties. In my experience, all good design returns to the foundational principles of color, movement, depth, texture, and spatial positioning.
What are your favorite blooms to work with?
Ranunculus are some of my favorite flowers because they lay flat really well and their petals open up in a full, ruffly, symmetrical manner. I also love incorporating citrus fruit, such as the pink lemons and key limes we used in our launch patterns.
What exactly is a flat-lay design, and how do you arrange and photograph them?
A flat-lay design is a composition of items on a flat surface that is photographed from a bird’s-eye view. I find them appealing because they speak to our natural inclination toward balanced geometry and order in a pattern.
All the photographs of our patterns were taken by an amazing photographer based in Colorado Springs named Rachel Havel. She and I have collaborated on many weddings and photo shoots. I love her bright, clean, but soft style. She primarily shoots on film, which adds a lovely fine-art feel to the images. No artificial studio lighting was used for our photos so we could really capture the true colors of the flowers. After her photos are digitized, my graphic designer, Aubreigh Brunschwig, tessellates them to create a larger pattern.
Will you offer new floral designs as the seasons change?
Absolutely! One of my favorite things about flowers is their seasonality, and our intention is that each season we will have a limited-edition run of products, and that every quarter we will release a whole new set of patterns celebrating the colors and flowers that truly represent the time of year. For 2020, we will be releasing a Fall/Winter line of four new patterns incorporating seasonal blooms and colors—I’m really looking forward to making a paper plate/napkin/cup set using wintry berries, evergreens, and small white blossoms—but starting in 2021, we will release new patterns quarterly.
Are new products in the works too?
We are exploring other products that we can make using our patterns. First in line are floral iPhone cases, wrapping paper, and greeting cards, and I’m super excited about working with a local printer to make large, removable vinyl flower stickers to be used as wall murals. I think these will be such a fun way to add color and pattern to a room!