AFTER HONING HIS SKILLS for close to fifteen years with one of Sydney’s most reputable boutique florists, Sean Cook turned his attention to a business of his own making. For the past five years, Mr Cook Flowers been called upon for luxury events, weddings and bespoke installations. In collaboration with Luxe City Guides we caught up with Mr Cook himself to discuss all things travel, scent and where he escapes to on a weekend.
First off, tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a florist.
I have been doing floristry now for about 20 years. My first job after leaving school was at David Jones as a visual merchandiser and doing the windows. I then moved into working with a production company – we did big corporate events and travelling events. That’s when I first tried my hand at working with flowers. It was pretty bad back then: everything was very corporate.
After doing that for a few years, I wanted something a little bit more creative with better work hours. At the time, I was living in Potts Point a flower shop named Grandiflora had just opened up. I literally went down there one day and said "This is my background, and I’m looking for a job." I had a job there the following week. I was there for 14 years and had fantastic training there with Saskia, the owner. Five years ago, I went out on my own and started Mr Cook. I had a store in Double Bay for four years, but we outgrew it and now we are in our studio space in Alexandria.
How does your process start when working with a new client?
I will often ask the client for a mood board, a colour palette, or even just a picture. It’s really a couple of things that will trigger that inspiration and get the process moving in the right direction. Then, it comes down a lot to colour, which really dictates what flowers we use. Often the mood of the event and what they are trying to convey – casual, relaxed, or more luxe – will often signal what flowers to use.
How does scent exist in your work?
I personally love fragrance. However, quite often we will get a request that people want flowers that with no scent. We work a lot with wine labels, and if they are organising a wine tasting or dinner, they want no scent to interfere with the food and the wine. We have to be really careful with that and picking flowers based on that.
For a wedding we have coming up, the church has quite an old, musty smell, so I said, "Jasmine is around at the moment, why don’t we just fill the church with jasmine?" We had a big bunch of cascading jasmine all the way down the church. That set the mood for the whole wedding because that’s first thing guests will experience. We really wanted scent to be a big part of the day.
What scent represents a specific time and place for you?
I always associate tuberose with Bali. It’s quite an expensive flower here in Australia, however in Bali you can buy a whole bucket – about a hundred stems – for five or ten dollars. I actually did a wedding over in Bali and we had a pavilion with tuberose curtains throughout the whole space. I I had my birthday there a couple of years ago . While we didn’t have the curtains, everyone wore leis of tuberose and I just filled the room with tuberose.
Any upcoming travel plans you'd like to share?
Travel is a big thing for me – I work to travel. This year we had a big trip to Europe and went to Eurovision, which I’ve always wanted to go. We looked on the map to see what was close to Stockholm, and we visited St. Petersburg and then Berlin. We just came back from a quick trip to Hawaii and went to one of the smaller islands there, Kauai, which was just beautiful. The beaches were incredible.
For Christmas last year, my family and my partner’s family are all going to Hong Kong. This coming April we are going to San Francisco and L.A., and do the drive between the two cities. However, the trip I am most excited about is a trip to do a safari in Africa in August. We will visit Rwanda and go up the mountains to see the mountain gorillas.
What are your favourite spots in Sydney?
EAT // Kepos Street Kitchen
Once I get back from the flowers market in the morning, before heading to the studio, I take the dog for a walk and go and get a coffee from Kepos Street Kitchen. I live in Redfern, so it’s really close. I also really love Israeli food - so this is definitely a favourite.
DRINK // Moya's Juniper Lounge
My favourite drink at the moment is Hendrick's gin and Moya’s Juniper Lounge pretty much only does gin-based cocktails. The space is very lo-fi and local, and we just love to support local businesses.
SHOP // Spence & Lynda
Spence & Lyda in Surry Hills has a really beautiful edit of homewares and furniture. The shop sells amazing cushions along with gorgeous artwork and sculptures. I bought our dining table chairs and some amazing artworks from the store.
PLAY // Royal National Park
We go down to the Royal National Park quite a bit. There are a couple of dog beaches, so we head there and explore. Just past the National Park is Stanwell Tops, which also has some beautiful beaches, and it’s just less than an hour drive from Sydney.
Brought to you by Luxe City Guides in collaboration with Lumira.