The Latest in Floral Fashion, at Mercabarna-flor

This is what awaited the florists who gathered at Mercabarna-flor on Sunday 14 November. Mercademostraciones is an event that Mercabarna and the Wholesale Business Association (AEM) have been organising for the past 27 years and which is a reference point in the sector. As the professionals who turn out year after year say, if you want to be well versed in the latest trends in products and arrangements, you can’t miss this date.

This year’s Mercademostraciones drew close to 2,000 florists from all across Spain. Such an excellent turnout shows the prestige the event has gained in the flower sector. As Jaume Mateu, chair of the Mercabarna-flor Wholesalers Association observed, “The downturn means hard times for us right now and we thought this might have an adverse affect on attendance. But the florists didn’t let us down. I imagine many simply decided that now more than ever was the time to go for new ideas and innovation.”

Once again this year, the floral art schools invited to the event saw to presenting these ‘new ideas’. Spain’s 10 major schools, based in Madrid, Andalusia, Asturias, Aragon, Valencia and Catalonia, all took part. As Juan Ramón Sánchez, a teacher at the Alnorte Floral Academy in Oviedo, pointed out, “It’s a unique opportunity to see the schools displaying all of their talent under one roof. I always tell my students that Mercademostraciones is a must.”

All of the schools once again surprised attendees with groundbreaking Christmas proposals, intended for decorating the Christmas table, adding atmosphere to large venues, creating arrangements with plants and flowers for gift-giving, adorning Christmas wreaths, and so forth, proving once more that not everything has already been done in floral design.

Innovative structures
One of the trends featured during the day-long event was the focus on compositions in which flowers and plants were arranged on original structures, elaborated in some cases with ‘recycled’ materials. This was the line followed in the Spanish Floral Art School’s cork structures; the Nature Formación school’s compositions using reused flower pots, trays and even mesh pipes normally used in the construction industry; and in Deflorarts’ silver-coated wrought-iron works positioned on mirrors for added depth.

Among the most eye-catching proposals was that of the Lis Floral Design Academy, with very creative wire structures that can be personalised to suit the customer’s taste and reused as often as one wishes. We found Luciana, a florist from Sant Vicenç de Castellet and a loyal devotee of Mercademostraciones, paying close attention to these structures. As she remarked, “I enjoy seeing the way they work with new materials. It gives me new ideas for creating arrangements for my own buying public or for decorating the shop and window. This way I attract more customers.”

Predominance of natural materials and new colours
Another trend is the use of materials provided by nature (bark, pine cones, fruit, feathers, chestnut skin, etc) in the elaboration of Christmas works. The Floral Art School of Catalonia highlighted this fashion with rustic compositions featuring fruits. These elements also predominated in the compositions by the Floral Art School of Aragon, which presented different types of wreaths, and in those by the Alnorte Floral Academy, with splendid Christmas wreathes decorated with green apples dangling from white ribbons. Jordi, a florist from Sant Joan Despí who opened his business six months ago, was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the creations. “It’s the first time I’ve attended and I’ve come to learn. I know how to do the classic arrangements but here they’ve given me ideas for doing new things.”

A further point Jordi picked up on was that new shades are being added to the traditional Christmas colours of red, black and gold. This became clear in the Christmas greenery compositions by Rosa Valls-formació, in which mauves, pinks and purples were the unquestionable centre of attention.

Finally, the Floral Art School of Andalusia and the Smilax Floral Workshop showed that, in addition to the works themselves, it is also crucial to set the scene with just the right atmosphere. The former decorated its space by giving it a futurist touch with materials such as plastic and glass, while the latter recreated a forest with ilex, leaves, oak and pine cones.

A meeting place for the sector
Over the past 27 years, Mercademostraciones has become something more than a showcase for new trends. It is a meeting place for the sector. According to Fátima del Rio, from the Floral Art School of Andalusia, one of the most “enriching” aspects of the event “is that it enables schools, florists and suppliers to all get together”. It is an annual meeting that to which more and more florists flock from different places in Spain. “I’ve been able to say hello to florists from the Basque Country, the Canary Islands, Valencia and all over. We’re making Mercademostraciones a fair of a national scope,” commented Rosa Valls, of the school that bears her name. A prime example is Mariló, a florist who, despite the distance, has no qualms about driving close to 300 kilometres from Castellón to Barcelona to attend Mercademostraciones.

"I come because I want to know what’s happening and here I can see all of the new trends at once. And while I’m here I also buy things for Christmas that I don’t find anywhere else,” she remarks while pushing a trolley brimming with products. Many florists like her make the most of finding the wholesalers open and do a generous day’s Christmas shopping in order to get a head start. As AEM chair Jaume Mateu commented, “The accessories area has sold a great deal today. More importantly, we’ve all taken advantage of the occasion to make contacts with customers from outside Catalonia who don’t come to the Market on a regular basis and who, today, can see that we have products and materials they won’t find elsewhere.”

What’s happening in Europe?
In addition to presenting the floral fashion trends in Spain, this year’s Mercademostraciones took a look at what is happening beyond our borders. The major afternoon demonstration featured the Russian Marina Bulatova and the Italian Pasquale Sostini, two florists of renowned prestige in the European floral sector. Over 300 florists packed the Market’s lecture room, eager to see these prestigious professionals working on different arrangements inspired by Christmas, with the focus on the style and trends of their countries of origin.

Seminars, workshops and Christmas trees
Thanks to the different programmed features, Market activity was nonstop throughout the day. The Dutch Flower Bureau (Bloemen Bureau) offered a seminar attended by 100 florists, which revealed some of the secrets for gaining greater insight into customers to better respond to their needs. Throughout the entire event, the floral art schools decorated a good number of Christmas trees, provided by the Christmas Tree Growers Association, with products supplied by the Market’s accessory businesses. Furthermore, some 60 children of attending florists enjoyed workshops for building traditional Catalan Nativity scenes and tió logs.

To see the photo gallery of Mercademostraciones 2010, consult the website: