5 minutes with... floral designer & illustrator Sarah Horne

Sarah Horne Botanicals | Design Hunter

One of the things I've come to value hugely since I began working for myself is the opportunity to connect with other like minded creatives, freelancers and business owners. I think this is something that many other people who are self employed will be able to relate to. When you work on your own it's really important to surround yourself with a support network of friends, colleagues and cheerleaders - people who understand the excitement and the challenge of going it alone, or your 'business besties' as Sara from Me and Orla called them in a podcast I recently listened to. These are other creatives who think and work in a similar way to you. They are the people who applaud your successes when things are going well and help lift your spirits when things get tough. Because so much of the design and interiors blogging scene is focused around London this is something I've struggled with at times, but I love living here in Leamington Spa and so over the past couple of years I've made a much more conscious effort to seek out and connect with other business owners closer to home.

I first met Sarah about a year ago, but I've known about (and admired) her work since I moved to Leamington. She runs a wonderful flower shop in the town, and has done since 1980, which is in itself no mean feat given the challenges of running any small retail business in the current economic climate. Sarah is one of the most energetic and inspiring women I know. As well as demonstrating her floral designs internationally she has won three RHS Chelsea Gold Medals and in 2011 was RHS Chelsea Florist of the Year. Her passion for what she does is infectious and uplifting. 

A few years ago while working on a project to take Leamington to the Chelsea Flower Show Sarah began drawing. Discovering a new medium for her extensive knowledge of flowers her natural creativity went wild and she began developing her own distinctive style in pen and ink. She recently launched Sarah Horne Botanicals - a range of gifts and homeware that includes candles, fine bone china, original art and cards featuring her intricate botanical illustrations. The collection is an exuberant celebration of botanical forms that draws upon an understanding gained over a lifetime of working with flowers.

I met up with Sarah over a glass of gin (her favourite drink and she is something of an afficionado on the subject), and invited her to share a little about her inspirations and the ethos behind her work.

Sarah Horne

Which three words best describe your work and design ethos?


I am old school in my thinking that you can have craft without art but you can’t have art without craft. For me craft should be a given in any piece of work. Then there needs to be a killer idea or composition for the piece to really excel.


I always strive to have distinctive work and of course my ultimate goal would be iconic.


I won’t stop until I’m totally happy that I have produced the best I possibly can. If this means letting something go and starting again then so be it.


Who or what inspires you? 

I am always inspired to see anyone who is skilled and confident at what they do, in whatever field, but particularly creatively. Free thinkers inspire me too, even when disagreeing with their ideology. My own creative inspiration comes from many places, obviously flowers and nature, but more generally interesting lines and great proportions in anything. The life drawing class I attend takes me out of my comfort zone every week but never ceases to inspire me, I love the human form.

Sarah Horne Botanicals | Design Hunter
Tulip card | Sarah Horne Botanicals

What is your most treasured object in your own home?

Apart from my gin collection, I’d have to say a stunning original drawing by Neil Moore entitled 'Other Men's Doxy, which was given to me by a very special person. 


Where's your favourite place to be?

I’m a person of extremes. I love to travel and learn about the world, to feel the buzz of a city and London is without a doubt my second home but I also love reflective time alone at home, laying in the sun or walking my little dog Bandit here in Royal Leamington Spa. I love space to think! I also love to be anywhere where I am surrounded by fascinating people that I can learn from and have real conversations with.


What would you be if you weren't a designer

I would have to be doing something creative, whatever the medium - so far flowers, ink and product design. Even running my businesses is a creative process where strategy is concerned. I just follow my creativity wherever it takes me.


Sarah Horne Botanicals

What are you reading right now?

Vivienne Westwood's diaries Get a Life. Such an amazing designer and as a person she's fascinating, a real free thinker, not to mention a great business woman.


Which words of wisdom do you try to live by?

Sometimes thought of as being a controversial philosopher, I find these words by Friedrich Nietzsche really strike a chord with me.

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." 

As does this quote by him.

 " There are no impossible dreams just limited perceptions of what is possible.


Product photography by Design Hunter. Portrait of Sarah by Katie McCullough.