In the middle of Store Kongensgade in inner Copenhagen, you’ll find Tableau. An art gallery centered around botany. The man behind, is the modern florist Julius Værnes Iversen, who despite roots in traditional flower decoration, broke with conventional expectations, when he set up his own universe two years ago. A universe, where flowers are exhibited equally to artwork, and where the world of botany is merged with that of design, architecture and art.
What’s the best part of your job?
Definitely the creative element of what I do. I get to work with various types of creative work. I do both set design, installation work with flowers and design products. So no days are the same, and that’s what I enjoy the most.
What was the initial idea for Tableau? And has it changed through the past couple years?
I thought flower shops in Denmark were very old-fashioned, and generally, when you walk into a regular flower shop you get too many different impressions. There’s a very logical explanation for this. You have to sell a lot of goods in a flower shop, and therefore there’s a lot of flowers. But I think it’s very confusing to walk into, because I absorb all the different flowers at once. So I needed to create a much more streamlined concept, where flowers would be exhibited in the same way as an art gallery. At first, my wish was to create a minimalistic universe, where flowers could be showcased. And to begin with, it was only supposed to be about flowers, but has then developed into lots of other stuff with art, design and products on a different level then at first.
Where did the connection to art come from?
I have always had a personal interest in art, and come from family that has collected art. So all the way from childhood, it’s been quite natural for me to deal with art, and I’ve always wanted to work with art. I have also always wanted to prioritize exhibitions, so in that regard it fit the concept well. But it happened quite coincidentally, when a lot of artists reached out to us because they were interested in exhibiting in the space I had created. So it was through that art got connected. I thought it was a very natural addition to our concept and universe to use the space as a gallery for artists, who work with contemporary art where botany is included in some form.
You gained success with Tableau quickly – do you think people have been waiting for the classic florist format to be updated?
Definitely. At least, there was a large need for it. The demand for contemporary flower decoration is really big, and much larger than what I had initially expected. And we also got internationally recognition quite fast, and we are very fortunate to be able to work with flower installation in many different countries. So it went significantly faster than I had dared to hope for.
You have also started growing your own plants in the store, what is this about?
We are collaborating with Alexander Holm, who’s a newly educated biologist, and who develops different kinds of house plants in our backroom. There, we have a sort of growth room, where we develop the plants, which are then exhibited in our backyard, where they are also sold from. So the plants are produced in the inner city, and creating them is both about us finding it fun to create and produce plants ourselves. But it’s also about trying to sell a product with no CO2 emission in form of transport. It’s a bioneutral production, where we’re not using chemicals or anything else. Everything is as carbon neutral as possible. In my industry, it’s hard working with a neutral product, as flower are very CO2 demanding to produce, but personally I’m of the opinion that I would like to try and work as carbon neutral as possible. The issue is that when you purchase cut flowers, which are produced carbon neutrally, they don’t have the same look as flower that aren’t. So the idea of what flowers look like is actually wrong. So in order to work more neutrally, you have change the notion of how it visually looks, and that’s difficult.
You collaborate a lot with people from other industries, could you elaborate on this work?
We collaborate a lot with especially industrial designers, architects and artists, whom we develop products with. At the moment, we’re making a second serie of vases together with Bloc Studios from Italy. And then we’re working on producing vases in a technique called tufting, which is originally used for carpets. So we’re putting carpets from Röd Studio onto the vases. We’re also launching a unisex clothing collection consisting of 12 pieces, which is launching during Fashion Week. It’s produced in collaboration with Atelier Jean//Phillip, a Danish menswear brand. So we try to embrace many different aspects of creative design work.
It sounds interesting with clothes. Is that also an interest of yours?
Definitely. We have created a collection that is exclusively produced in inner Copenhagen. And all textile is from deadstock. The collection is called Botanical Anatomy, and the reason for that is, the collection explores the connection between the movement of flowers and the movement of the human body. So we have photographed flowers on naked ballet dancers, and these photographs will be sewn onto the clothing. Every serie of pieces is numbered, so that it, in some way, gives the illusion of being a piece of art. I’m not going to be the one deciding whether or not it is, but we’re trying to make it be artwork. We’re trying to lift a clothing collection to be more than just that. And we’re exhibiting it all of August.
How would you describe your home?
Controlled chaos. I live in a home filled with stuff. It’s very different from how Tableau looks. I come from a family that has collected antiquities, which means I have a lot of different things. There isn’t really a common thread through it, which I like for my own home. Some people like to live where it’s all grey, I’m absolutely not like that. In my home there’s all sort of colors and things.
What gives you the feeling of home?
I don’t find it homely to live super minimalistic. I feel more comfortable with lots of stuff. Plants are of course also a big part of it. I have many plants at home because they in some way make me happy. I can’t explain why, but I have a theory that plants release and absorb energy. They play a big part in making me feel at home.
What about art and design, is that also part of your home?
It definitely is. I also privately buy a lot of the products we order for Tableau. I have a massive fondness for functional design. This implies a table, which also functions as a piece of art, or a vase hanging on the wall, which also becomes a sculptural exhibition. Most of the furniture in my home are functional artwork.
You mention you have a lot of things – do you find it hard getting rid of stuff?
I tend to. I definitely collect, but not in a hoarder like way. It’s controlled in some way. Most people visiting my home will think there’s a lot of stuff.
What is your latest buy?
I have recently bought a piece by Anna Clarisse Holck Wæhrens, who’s previously exhibited at Tableau. She had an exhibition called Potato Press Pass, which was these large silk pieces made from old-school potato press. She has come by Tableau for the past two years to collect leftover flowers, which she has used to make the silk press. And it’s turned into these large contemporary pieces, which hang down from the ceiling. So that’s my latest buy. And then I’ve also recently bought a sofa table by the Belgium-based designer Laurids Gallée, who studies at Eindhoven – one of the largest design schools for functional art. So I’ve just bought a table from him, which functions both as a piece of furniture you can use, but at the same time also as a piece of art.
How would you describe your style?
It’s controlled chaos once again. I mix multiple different types of styles at the same time. I’m not the type of person aiming for one specific look. I’m also very fond of colors, and I like selecting from different style genres, and then mixing them myself.
What are you dressing in the most this summer?
A lot of colors.