F L O W E R S & F A I R Y T A L E S
With Event Imagineer Tony Marklew
Next in our series of chats with the magical Tony Marklew, we take a spin in a giant pumpkin and venture down the rabbit hole to uncover the inspiration behind his bewitching tablescapes and event design.
Tony is a master of making any event truly special by immersing guests in a wonderland of colour, smells, tastes and light. He's a regular event designer at the most opulent members' clubs and hotels across the globe, bringing a touch of romance and luxury to both tabletops and grand staircases.
Our first question to Tony focused on his intriguing job title of 'Event Imagineer'. Specialising in tablescapes, flower arranging and immersive event installations, it's difficult to find a 'one title fits all' that does justice to Tony's full skill set. This is why 'Event Imagineer' manages to capture the limitless nature of Tony's work so well.
"I wanted to express myself as a creative in the industry and not put myself in the box of a florist. I'm a 'Disneyophile', so originally I wanted to be called a Disney Imagineer, years and years ago! They’re the people who create the stories and I really liked that magical title."
"Fairy tales and magic. I think the theatre is all of that. I haven’t been so much inspired by other people’s work, but more by costumes or fashion shows. People ask where do you get inspiration from? And it’s from architecture, from theatre productions. Keep your eyes open all the time! Theatre and fashion definitely feeds into my work, and even the nature by which I use the flowers."
Whether it's a grand staircase or a tabletop, Tony's work is suffused with both the drama and romance of a sweeping theatrical production. Inspiration for his unique and lavish style stems from his rich creative background, first training in dance and drama in Covent Garden before working in fashion with designers like Conrad and Graham Smith. So how far has his background inspired his current work?
K E E P Y O U R E Y E S O P E N
"Everything I do is based on fairy tales..."
"I can’t do favourites when it comes to flowers! Peonies this time of year are amazing, but roses are equally beautiful. I’ve just done an arrangement of roses that are all open and they’re all beige-brown and beautiful. I really struggle with favourites. People ask me that all the time, they really do. I mean, you don’t eat the same food, you don’t want the same drink. And it only takes one thing to tip the balance."
Flowers certainly play an important role in Tony's sumptuous magical style, so does he have a favourite?
Known for his expertise in flower arrangements and classic tablescapes, Tony is also a master at large scale immersive installations. So how does he approach the epic scale of such designs?
"It's what you take in and what you drink in that actually influences the way you work. For Adults it’s also about being taken to another place. We all like that. It’s the sense of being transported."
And it's clear to see the transformative power of Tony's designs across his back catalogue of projects. He describes to us an Indian wedding held in UK, for which he styled a dance floor as a lily pond using hand painted mirrors. For a Frozen themed birthday at The Lanesborough Hotel in London, he created a fabulous frosted archway for guests to enter through.
And it is this sense of the extraordinary - this taste of the magical - that has the power to transport us when we step into one of Tony's magical wonderlands.
B E T R A N S P O R T E D
T O N Y M A R K L E W
I N T E R V I E W S E R I E S
This is just one of our stories in a short series of talks we had with Event Imagineer Tony Marklew.
You can find @tonymarklew on Instagram or at www.tonymarklew.com.
Swipe left to see more stories in this series or to catch Tony's video made exclusively for Annabel’s during lockdown, featuring Klimchi glassware.