Turning an Edwardian Council Chamber into a Floral Paradise

This week Grace & Thorn has transformed Bethnal Green's Town Hall Hotel with its acclaimed floristry – and photographer Oskar Proctor caught the set-up on camera for our viewing pleasure

If you’ve ever stepped foot in the imposing Council Chamber at east London’s Town Hall Hotel, you’ll know that, bar Buckingham Palace, it’s as regal an interior as you’re ever likely to find in the city – all Edwardian stained wooden panelling, forest green leather fold-down chairs, and plush deep pile carpets. Except for today, that is. Today it has been transformed, in the capable hands of Nik Southern and her team from Hackney floristry emporium Grace & Thorn, into a floral jungle of Jumanji-esque proportions.

Luscious philodendrons hang vine-like from a towering, industrial scaffolding structure; garden roses, “so many different kinds that even I can’t remember all of their names” explode firework-like at every turn; birds of paradise stand sternly in corners, vibrant orange blooms waiting patiently to burst from their leafy encasements at the drop of a hat. It’s “post-apocalyptic garden chic,” Southern states matter-of-factly, gazing around at the floral invasion she and her team created over the course of 48 hours, with the help of set designers Kite x Custance. We can’t help but agree.

The installation's ephemerality is part and parcel of its appeal: just two days after its painstaking and time-consuming build, every last bloom will be discarded, each hanging plant packed away, and every bolt unscrewed as the jungle is taken down, leaving nothing but the fading perfume of flowers where it stood. For now, however, you can experience its creation firsthand with photographer Oskar Proctor's vibrant documentation.

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