#5 Golden issueGathering

  The next
roaring
    twenties

Impassioned political discussions, lively dance music, flamboyant party clothes in shiny rich fabrics, lavishly flowing drinks, cigarettes and stiff cocktails in a dizzying smoky room full of mysterious floral bouquets and intimate corners. Renske van der Ploeg has translated the notorious Roaring Twenties to the present day, and has let her imagination run wild in this floral, brooding ‘roaring gathering’ with a rough edge_______.

Your roaring gathering reminds us of our wilder times. Do you have your own memorable recollections of this sort of party that you’d like to share?

“Hahaha, I love parties and special moments, and I’ve experienced plenty! But I don’t need it to be too wild. For example, what I really enjoy on May 5th, and do every year, is the Liberation lunch. I have a large stone table outside my door in the Zeehelden district, which I cover with beautiful crockery, fabulous flowers and fine table linen from my friends and family. Kids and dogs roam around - it’s one big family. Very convivial. Everyone brings something to eat, I arrange the flowers, the dressing, drinks, coffee, tea and snacks for the children. Since I’m no kitchen goddess, I leave the cooking to others. We’ve also done it in the Westerpark, where the kids can enjoy swimming. That’s fun too, but it is more of an effort.”

Which gathering will you never forget?

“I’ve experienced many special moments, and I find it difficult to pick out one that stands out. For me, it’s important that there are nice people and good energy. The styling can be simple but have a presence. I admire Bibi van den Velden (jewellery designer and a friend of Renske’s - ed.) for the dressing of her fantastic shows for her jewellery and gatherings. She really has got the touch - when she organises something everything is just right, down to the smallest detail. She’s quite happy to place a large tree or a car in her studio covered in suitcases and flowers for an event. Whatever she does, it’s always spot-on. It’s a bit Tim Walker-esque. I could get very jealous. I admire her greatly for that, and I learn a lot from her.”

‘I LOVE THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE. THE ULTIMATE GATHERING IS IN THE STYLE OF GUY RITCHIE’S WEDDING, WITH THOSE HYSTERICAL FLOWER ARCHES_______.’
‘I LOVE THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE. THE ULTIMATE GATHERING IS IN THE STYLE OF GUY RITCHIE’S WEDDING, WITH THOSE HYSTERICAL FLOWER ARCHES_______.’

What are your favourite ingredients for the perfect styling for a gathering? What does your perfect gathering/party look like?

“If it was entirely up to me, I choose for the Great Outdoors in the English countryside! I would rent a big old stone castle there, for that British outdoor feeling, complete with horses and long tables outside - the whole thing. A bit like Guy Ritchie’s wedding, with those hysterical flower arches. And obviously with bouquets from Jamie Ashton (a floristry school in London that Renske would love to attend, but which is incredibly expensive - ed.). Extravagant, and outdoors, flowers against the wall - something like that. Like the place where Kate Moss got married, that’s what I picture; summery, casual bouquets on a big country estate. A bit of romance and rock ‘n’ roll. With friends and good music and lots of beautiful flowers as decoration.”

What are your earliest memories of plants?

“Growing cress at nursery school - that was always fun! We did it every spring. At Easter we could take it home for lunch. Watching those plants, how they germinated and grew, lent an extra dimension to going to school. It made me feel proud to cultivate my own plants.”

What do you find most inspirational about nature?

“Nature repeats itself, and that continues to fascinate me. That’s why have this tattoo on my right arm: a line circle. It’s not just the seasons that come back time and again - it really applies to everything. History repeats itself over and over. I think that’s a nice thought. That that’s driven by nature. Everything goes the way it goes. That’s how it is - and that’s how I experience it.”

What are your favourite ingredients for the perfect styling for a gathering? What does your perfect gathering/party look like?

“If it was entirely up to me, I choose for the Great Outdoors in the English countryside! I would rent a big old stone castle there, for that British outdoor feeling, complete with horses and long tables outside - the whole thing. A bit like Guy Ritchie’s wedding, with those hysterical flower arches. And obviously with bouquets from Jamie Ashton (a floristry school in London that Renske would love to attend, but which is incredibly expensive - ed.). Extravagant, and outdoors, flowers against the wall - something like that. Like the place where Kate Moss got married, that’s what I picture; summery, casual bouquets on a big country estate. A bit of romance and rock ‘n’ roll. With friends and good music and lots of beautiful flowers as decoration.”

What are your earliest memories of plants?

“Growing cress at nursery school - that was always fun! We did it every spring. At Easter we could take it home for lunch. Watching those plants, how they germinated and grew, lent an extra dimension to going to school. It made me feel proud to cultivate my own plants.”

What do you find most inspirational about nature?

“Nature repeats itself, and that continues to fascinate me. That’s why have this tattoo on my right arm: a line circle. It’s not just the seasons that come back time and again - it really applies to everything. History repeats itself over and over. I think that’s a nice thought. That that’s driven by nature. Everything goes the way it goes. That’s how it is - and that’s how I experience it.”

When you think of a shrub/plant/flower that means something to you, which one you think of?

“Ivy, laburnum and honeysuckle. They grew by my parents’ house. When they started growing again, spring had arrived. A wonderfully light feeling - it made me cheerful and happy. My mother has incredible green fingers, she has sumptuous garden packed with beautiful plants and blooming flowers. I’d love to have a garden like that one day. Or a fairytale roof garden like my friend Bibi van der Velden has. It’s really amazing.”

Without plants/flowers life is…

“Is there any life without plants and flowers?”

Are there plants on the table in your home?

“Definitely! At my last party there was a lovely mixture of plants in pots and containers with gladioli in every colour on the table.”

What’s your best trick for keeping flowers looking good for longer?

“Sugar and a bit of bleach to sterilise your vase. It keeps them fresh for longer.”

When was the last time you bought plants/flowers for someone?

“Oops - for myself! At the Noordermarkt, a mega bunch of lilies. They smelt divine!”

What’s your favourite plant shop/destination/inspiration in this regard?

“My favourite destinations include Pompon, Prinselijk gebonden and Gerda’s in Amsterdam. They have the most beautiful, unusual flowers, and can arrange almost anything for you. But I’m also a big fan of Jamie Ashton in London. I can also get inspiration from the girls in the office, since they often bring in beautiful flowers.”

In what unexpected spots do you like to place plants/flowers?

“Everywhere! I’ve been using a lot of flowers in images recently. Flowers have always been a hobby of mine anyway. I get that from my mother and my Aunt Bea. They’re mad about nature.”

Which plant/flower symbolises a high point in your life?

“Hmm, apart from the flowers from my mother’s garden that I’ve mentioned already, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. But creating a cool photo-series for a production with beautiful models, extravagant bouquets and exciting styling is always a high point for me.”

What you think was the most memorable production/art with plants/flowers that you’ve ever seen?

“It’s got to be ‘Dior and I’, a documentary about Raf Simons for Dior. The entire show is one big flower display. Amazing_______.”

A selection from Renske’s timeline, @rensvdploeg