Viet Nam News
ĐÀ NẴNG — Some things change a person’s life forever – a person, an event, or a floral kaleidoscope.
Construction engineer Nguyễn Phi Minh of coastal Đà Nẵng City knew he wanted to be a florist the moment he saw the ‘Floral Kaleidoscope’ installation by Indonesian designer Harijanto Setiawan in Singapore.
The installation – incorporating flowers with music, lighting and movement – enchanted Minh. “Too amazing is all I could say,” Minh said, reminiscing about the artwork.
That was during the Singapore Garden Festival 2012, an event that brought Minh an epiphany about the art of flower arrangement.
“You will know it when you experience it: the feeling of seeing something you have never seen before,” Minh said.
“It occurred to me, when I stepped into the exhibition section of the festival, that floral art has become very advanced in developed countries,” he said. “A lot of things related to floral art that I’d never seen before were in front of me, and I could really touch them.”
“That’s when I decided to study the art and pursue it instead of the construction industry.”
‘Current’ – Nguyễn Phi Minh’s flower installation at the Đà Nẵng International Flower Show 2016. — Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Phi Minh
Minh graduated with distinction from private Duy Tân University in Đà Nẵng with a degree in civil and industrial construction. As a student, he had a part-time job at a local flower shop, from which he first developed an interest in floristry.
In 2011 he got to know florist Tô Duy Kha through his flower shop in District 3 of HCM City. “I was impressed with Kha’s flower arrangements there,” Minh said.
Kha was the only Vietnamese participant and winner of four prizes at an international flower festival held by the World Flower Council in Thailand in 2012.
That trip to Thailand with Kha after the Singapore Garden Festival was another pivotal moment drawing Minh inexorably toward floral art. “Kha became a mentor and helped me participate in several flower festivals in Asia,” Minh said.
Bringing it home
The Đà Nẵng International Flower Show 2016 was the first of its kind in Việt Nam, and was Minh’s brainchild.
Taking place in the coastal city in November 25-27 last year, the show exhibited floral artworks by 18 florists from Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Việt Nam.
The idea of hosting a flower show in his home country struck Minh like lightening in January 2016 when he was attending the Sanya International Orchid Show in China.
“My florist friends asked why there hasn’t been any international flower show in Việt Nam,” Minh said. “They said as a country that grows and exports flowers to Asian markets, we should have a place to showcase our products.”
’Princess Head Wearing’ – Nguyễn Phi Minh’s winner of the Best Innovation Award at the Sanya International Orchid Show 2016 in China. — Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Phi Minh
“That became my motivation to organise the first international flower show in my hometown.”
"Current" was the title of Minh’s flower sculpture at the show. Composed of yellow Oncidium and blue papers, it signifies the coastal city where Minh was born and bred.
“In a rather ‘common’ sense people would say it calls for protection of the environment,” Minh said. “But in a deeper sense, through the form of the sculpture and the school of paper fish ‘swimming’ on top of it, I wanted to depict a smooth current flow – or broader: a peaceful life for everyone.”
"Việt Nam is a potential playground for floral art to blossom as many areas in the country grow flowers and fresh materials can be found here. However, floral art isn’t common among Vietnamese florists," he said.
"Floral art differs from common floristry in the graceful way florists arrange flower branches to create shape and form for their work.
"The flowers themselves are not as important as the way florists take advantage of and combine the dried, fresh, natural, recycled materials to create the work," he added.
After five years lost in the beauty of flower arranging, Minh’s passion for it “is only getting stronger”.
“I’ve been to many places and seen much inspiring work, but it feels like I haven’t done enough to share what I’ve learnt,” he said.
“That’s the thing about floral art – it’s a creative occupation, and creativity requires hard work and ongoing passion to turn into good work.
“One of my future plans is to invite world famous floral artisans to the next flower show to introduce floral art and help people understand more about it.” — VNS