Dafne Tovar’s Cosmos
Leaving her chair in the Mexican government, she immersed herself in the unstable world of flowers.
Four years ago, she jumped from the bureaucratic scope to the artistic world. Leaving her chair in the Mexican government, she immersed herself in the unstable world of flowers. Her talent makes her one of the best new florists in Mexico with a bright future.
Meticulous in all processes, she works with the best that Jamaica market offers in Mexico City from the kitchen-room of her department, while listening to Jeff Tweedy and his band Wilco. With her muse Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua, they constitute the pillars of La Florería & Co. But she already owns a solid aesthetic and has her own stories to tell. In the frenzy eve of San Valentine’s day, Dafne took some time to answer this interview.
The Luxonomist: What made you jump from the public administration to the flowers world?
Dafne Tovar: I worked for several years with politicians and the government, but I knew that the public administration was unstable. That’s why I got a master’s degree in Business Development. We travel to China and there I understood that I had to find something that I liked enough to dedicate my whole life to. After breaking my head, I realized that I spent hours at the computer looking at pictures of flowers. On the other hand, making memory, I realized that I was always influenced by the beautiful roses of my grandmother Sara. She cut them in the evenings and sent the most beautiful to my mother. In those days, I was the messenger and she, the florist.
TL: How do your International Relations studies relate to flowers?
DT: I gave a course in a house for migrants from Central America. Thanks to my friend Danae, I could realize the importance of creative expressions for personal well-being and the community. The students – men between 14 and 20 years old – made beautiful arrangements, with which they were portrayed and immediately put on sale in the local market. It was a very emotional course with surprising results.
TL: Mexico has a rich and colorful culture. Where do you see this manifested in your work?
DT: I enjoy my daily life in Mexico City. There is no day that I don’t find something nice, interesting or funny to take a photo off. Talking with people, eating delicious food and seeing things that make me laugh, move my life and my work.
TL: Dutch Golden Age teachers have a clear influence, or am I wrong?
DT: It is true. I have two very clear references of this style. The first is a still life that was hanging in the living room of my grandparents Sara and Lauro. I spent many hours together with my brother in front of that painting, because it was next to his television (laughs). The second is a postcard of Hans Bollongier’s painting entitled «Floral Still Life» that my friend Lorena brought me from Holland, and it coincided with the beginning of the business. I could not believe there were such large, speckled tulips, and I never thought that years later I would be working with them.
TL: Chilango magazine says there are five flower markets in Mexico City: Madreselva de Xochimilco, Cuemanco Plants, Jamaica, San Angel and Coyoacán Nurseries. Do you know them all? Can you tell us a little about each one?
DT: Yes, I know them all. Madreselva of Xochimilco is an incredible market. It is mainly of flowers and plants in pots, the same as Cuemanco. They have a very particular energy and I relate them to the pre-Hispanic period of Mexico. The fact that several crops come from ancestral chinampas gives me goosebumps. The market of San Angel and the Nurseries of Coyoacán are pretty in colorful, although somewhat expensive. The Jamaican Market has a special place in my heart. I have great friends and from the beginning they not only supported me, but they taught me much of what I know about flowers today. Sellers are incredibly generous with their knowledge and have a great sense of responsibility with the projects in which it is part. Jamaica is not only my favorite market, but my favorite place in the world.
TL: What are chinampas?
DT: The chinampas is a method of agriculture initiated by the Toltecs and that lived its height in the early sixteenth century. It consists of small, earth-covered rectangular rafts where flowers, fruit and vegetables are grown on the surface of lakes and ponds. I am thrilled to think that some of the flowers we use come from that land and makes me more aware of the cultural value of my country.
TL: What flowers are grown in Mexico?
DT: Our land is generous: practically everything that is cultivated, is given. Roses are the main crop and cosmos is my favorite flower, although I would like to have more varieties. But I can’t complain as the market always surprises me with something new every season.
TL: In your blog, you talk about Sarah Ryhanen from Saipua and Jeff Tweedy from Wilco. Can you explain?
DT: I like people and things that tell something beyond their aesthetic or immediate perception. I feel that both Sarah and Jeff make me insatiable curious and reach my sensitive fiber. They are a reference of style because they have depth and style. Wilco is my favorite band and Jeff Tweedy, a great storyteller. I always return to his songs when I feel infinite happiness or sadness, and it allows me to remember and understand who I am. This is where I find convergence with Sarah. She was my first approach to the organic style of flowers. Not only because her flowers are spectacularly beautiful, but because it feels that she narrates something beyond her aesthetic.
TL: Have you taken classes with other designers besides Sarah?
DT: Yes, my first teacher was Nicolas Alvarado, and then I went to a course by Björn Kroner. In the organic style, I was self-taught for two years until I visited Sarah and Nicolette Owen at World’s End. The last class I took was with Dr. Lisa Cooper.
TL: Do you feel that the color of the year dictated by Pantone limits you?
DT: Not really. I love rare color palettes and I enjoy watching them in movies. I am fortunate to have friends with film specialists with whom I have learned to become aware of the atmospheres that are achieved with the use of colors. I like the melancholy and old movies of Francis Ford Coppola, his daughter Sofia and Lars von Trier. Wes Anderson has colorful and contrasting palettes, but at the same time very smooth in his transitions. When I want to be inspired by something stronger and more versatile, I see films by directors like Nicolas Winding, Martin Scorsese or Tarantino.
TL: What are your next challenges at La Floreria & Co?
DT: Engage in more challenging creative projects that fill me with excitement. I continue with the project of moving from the kitchen-room of my department to a workshop and consolidate my team. I am also working on the change of image of my business, with people in the creative industry that fill me with energy and desire to learn.
TL: What is the most enjoyable event in which you’ve worked?
DT: Last year in Hidalgo, Grace and Diego’s rocker-romantic wedding, with roses, reds, and strong colors. The venue was beautiful and in the middle of nowhere. It rained during the preparation days and the electricity went out. We had no cell phone signal so we listened to reggaeton all day, because that was the only thing I had in my offline mode playlist. We did not stop laughing with the insolent jokes of Marcelino, our star driver, who inaugurated a news program called «Notiflor» (Flower News), where he collected all the opinions of the international staff (nine friends from Argentina, Colombia and Europe). We had a bird’s nest above us, it was very cold at night and we gained about five kilos each. It was a very tired wedding but at the same time very funny.