Let’s start by telling who Giuseppe Armenise is
I’m 48 years old, I’m from Bari, I studied at an art school. My dream was to be a graphic designer then a series of circumstances
of life took me to another direction. I had never really thought about being a florist, nor I have ever attended a course as a florist, actually I’m proud of this thing.
Because just as in fashion, the rules for a setting are the same: the right combinations of colors, proportions, shapes. To all this you have to add your own taste. My school is the journey: when you visit the world you open your mind, traveling allows you to get to know new realities, new perfumes, new colours, new shapes that then become inspiration for an installation. For example, it happens to see something beautiful in Marrakech and maybe turn it into an idea for the preparation of a wedding you are working on in that moment.
How did the meeting with the world of flowers happen?
I approached someone who was already doing this job and, almost as a joke, I took care of a first event and then a second
one again. At a certain point, I realized that I liked this activity. In my life I’ve done a lot of jobs, I’ve done everything, I’ve also taught equitation, at some point I’ve given up everything. My head told me that this was my job.
And the heart?
Even the heart, of course. Both with people and at work, I always do what my head tells me even before my heart.
Since how long do you have this shop?
I spent the last seventeen years in this location in Bari. I realized the first events by working in a top level structure such as the Masseria San Domenico, Borgo Egnazia. The Melpignano family helped me a lot in this start up, I started the first steps in their structure and I still continue to work with them today. Thanks to this experience I had the opportunity to deal with major events that also appeared in the newspapers. Then obviously the word of mouth worked, the rumor spread and after a few years I decided to open my own business.
What do you do in concrete terms?
My advice starts with a complete wedding planner service. My collaborator Pierpaola Disanto starts with the design of the invitations, after which we continue imagining what the mood might be. We start from an idea of colors and materials, always finding inspiration according to the seasons of course. I particularly dedicate myself to the more creative part and I move on to the presentation of the mood-boards to show the client which direction we want to take with our project. Then we move on to the selection of materials, flowers, containers, lights according to the size of the wedding. We can make small events with small budgets, as well as installations for large events that require not only the floral arrangement as well as a scenic system and different lights for each phase of the wedding, from the bride’s arrival in the church to the cutting of the cake.
I mean, you take care of the total look of an event. If one asks you what job you do, how would you define yourself?
A florist. I am a person who loves beauty and knows how to give advice on how to choose beauty, a person who loves cooking, who loves everything that is decorated in any context, from marriage to private party. I also take care of interior decoration.
In short, not just flowers…
The choice of flowers is fundamental because it serves to soften the different scenic materials that we choose and that can be glass, mirrors, zinc, copper, brass.
You still haven’t said it for confidentiality, but let’s not forget that you have organized the preparations for important weddings.
I was in charge of the setting for the wedding of Justin Timberlake with the actress Jessica Biel in Puglia in Borgo Egnazia; for the wedding of Alessia Marcuzzi in London and then my biggest dream came true when I had Madonna as my guest twice in Fasano. We organized for her both the 59th birthday party and a dinner for her friends. I must say that all this happened thanks to one person in particular, Pino Brescia, the person who has created all the decor of Borgo Egnazia. Everything that happened in my work was made possible by this spark.
Tell us more, how did this meeting with Madonna happen?
Three years ago, Madonna was in Borgo Egnazia when one day she was proposed “Would you like to visit the farmhouse of the architect of the Borgo?”, she accepted and when she saw it she went crazy with joy for the beauty, simplicity, energy that this house transmits, she was immediately at ease and we had dinner together. Now and then I threw myself a pinch because I thought it wasn’t true. Then he asked us if we could organize her birthday party in that farm and so two years ago all the newspapers talked about her birthday in Puglia.
I read that you also participated in the preparation of the mega wedding of the daughter of an Indian magnate always in Borgo Egnazia.
Actually, I only took care of a small part of that project. It was a huge event, I was also lucky enough to be a guest of the evening and it was a great success, a wonderful experience.
How did these personalities get to you?
When they talk to Borgo Egnazia, they are presented with a series of fittings offered by various trusted suppliers and they have the opportunity to choose.
What do you have more than others?
Absolutely nothing. The market is different, I can satisfy some people and not others.
Your job consists in giving your customers the “wow” effect: is there still something that can surprise you?
You never get used to beauty, but simplicity is always the best choice. The greatest satisfaction is when the next day you receive messages from your customers who thank you and congratulate you on the result obtained.
What advice would you give a couple about to get married?
Never be afraid of appearances. I live with the image and on the image and therefore I always try to live under the banner of beauty: sometimes, however, one may think that a beautiful shop should also be expensive, while here too, as it happens in a store of big brands you can find a quality solution at an affordable cost. The advice to couples who are going to prepare a party is to always have an idea of budget, so also for us it becomes easier to advise better by offering an excellent creative proposal. We work with any budget, then to those who ask for the stars, I answer that we don’t have a magic wand.
How important is it in this industry to pursue fashion?
Trends are first and foremost dictated by the seasons, then there are bloggers who now dictate the styles of the moment. People see Ferragni’s wedding and ask to have the same even when they can’t afford it; they see the princess’s wedding and ask for the same bouquet as the princess. Magazines and the Internet help to create dreams.
What is currently in fashion?
Certainly not the minimalist setting. It’s time for abundance. The abundance of flowers, colors, materials, trends in short look to the Baroque. My idea, however, is that you must always respect the places, it is not necessary to transform a farm with an Indian or super English setting: if one marries in Puglia means that he loves this territory, therefore the function of the installation must be to enhance and exploit the authenticity of the territory.
Have you ever lost a customer because his requests did not match your taste?
Yes, many times… you don’t always have to say yes, sometimes you have to say “no” if you want to maintain quality results.
Do you work abroad too?
We have curated installation projects in London, Salzburg, Barcelona. I also received a job offer in New York for “Cipriani”, the famous chain of restaurants, I was there for a month, but to continue meant having to give up everything I had built here until then. In the end, that one-month experience didn’t have a follow- up.
Is there a place here in Italy that you are particularly attached to? Among the images of your works I noticed that there is often a small white church, I understand that it is one of your favorites.
It is the church of San Michele at the Loggia di Pilato in Monopoli. I am in love with the South of Bari, I like the Valle d’Itria where there are still authentic structures not transformed into reception rooms. I must say, however, that all Puglia is beautiful.
One last curiosity, why this name “Botlea”?
I liked the meaning as the “bodlea” is a plant that when it blooms makes the butterflies approach. But I didn’t like the pronunciation with the “d” and I replaced it with the “t”, “Botlea”.