"Don’t be afraid to wear flowers on your head"

The wilderness of the Danish seaside, memories of her grandmother, the theatre, and muses such as Frida Kahlo, Karen Blixen and the queen of Denmark are among the references for the enchanting works of Thilde Maria Kristensen, aka Poppykalas.

If you haven’t already stumbled upon Thilde Maria Kristensen’s creations in the Instagram feeds of Copenhagen’s cool cats, you should check out @poppykalas first chance you get. Under the artist name Poppykalas, Thilde creates expressive floral arrangements and bouquets. The most recent blooming of her skills can be seen in a collaboration with yours truly. 

The Normann Copenhagen x Poppykalas project FLORAL INJECTION is an invitation to indulge in the beauty of rich and opulent flowers. Poppykalas has created a feast for the eye and body in the shape of theatrical and playful flower arrangements centered around Normann Copenhagen designs.

Curvy Nyhavn vase surrounded by an imposing floral scenery.

The collaboration has resulted in a series of floral images and a pop up exhibition in Normann Copenhagen’s showroom, which could be experienced on April 28-29, 2017. Intrigued by the mesmerizing floral universe of Poppykalas, we asked her to share her story and insights on the world of florals.

ABOUT POPPYKALAS – Grandmother’s farm through to performing arts 
Thilde Maria Kristensen holds a BA in Theatre and a Master in Modern Culture and Cultural Communications, and for more than 15 years she worked with Communication & Public Relations in Performing Arts, specializing in Theatre & Contemporary Dance. Lately, she has worked as an independent producer, taking her around the world to Montreal, New York, Helsinki, Düsseldorf etc. While her educational background might seem far from the floral world, Thilde draws on her insight into modern culture and the performing arts when composing her floral arrangements.

Thilde Maria Kristensen - Poppykalas

Thilde Maria Kristensen. Photo credit: Lis Kasper Bang.

“I have always been fascinated by the visual part of the performing arts. The choreography and the physicality of dance is a big part of creating bouquets and floral arrangements. I wrote my BA about the modern avant-garde director Robert Wilson, who performed at Betty Nansen Theatre in Copenhagen - and because of that I worked at that theatre for many years. I am bringing his theatricality and stringent scenographic staging with a colorful visuality into the floral world. These aesthetics you can also detect in FLORAL INJECTION. The bouquets of Poppykalas also lead back to the extravagancy of theatre with great female diva actresses, who I have worked with.”

A theatrical composition with the sky grey Nyhavn vase and flamboyant Aanthurium.

Extravagancy is not the picture of Thilde’s upbringing, or at least it took on a different form. Thilde grew up in the countryside in Denmark, in a small town in Jutland named Skive, situated by a fjord. She also spent a lot of her childhood by the North Sea. Here, the huge wilderness with unspoiled dunes and lots of lakes and woods made a big impact on her. 

Fascinated by this unique landscape created by the power of nature, the seed was planted for Thilde’s love of the floral world. With Poppykalas she has returned to where it all started, and since October 2016, Thilde has worked full time with her floral arrangements. 

Why the name Poppykalas? 
“I spent a lot of time at my Grandmothers Farm named Krogsgaard in Thy. She painted huge flower bouquets with a special 3D technique with layer on layer. She also always made flower decorations around the house - almost never in vases, but in big bowls of the finest porcelain. She painted flowers everywhere, on the walls, vases, pillows - you name it. She even transformed a wall in the kitchen into one big collage of pictures of only roses. One part of her living room was almost like a jungle to me and a part of the farm was turned into a gallery, where all the German tourist and locals bought her floral paintings.

Futuristic Meta bowls form a lively landscape.

Her favorite flower and motive was the red poppy, which the fields around her farm also was filled with. When the poppies where dancing in the wind - she named them dancing gowns. "I always loved that. Over time the poppy also became one of mine favorite flower and it’s such a lively image of my grandmother, so there was no doubt, that the name should include Poppy,” Thilde explains.

“Kalas is one of my favorite Swedish words,“ she continues. “It means celebration. I also think it’s important to celebrate life, which you often do with flowers. When you are born into the world, when you get married and even when you die, flowers creates a pleasant atmosphere for your relatives to get through it. I love my job, because almost all the people I create flower bouquets for get very happy and enthusiastic.”

The sleek elegance of the Still vase counterbalanced by a vibrant, colorful backdrop. 

THE FLORALS – soft pastels and big ass bouquets
The signature Poppykalas bouquet contains only flowers and no greens. Poppies, roses and anthurium come together in a Japanese Ikebana-triangle construction with different heights.

“The opposite of a traditional symmetrical round baroque bouquet with a flat structure and greens. And the bigger the better. I love Big Ass Bouquets, here you can almost always see the erotic Orchid as well, which I also used in FLORAL INJECTION. And then mostly pastel colors with something blue like the sea and the sky and something darker to create contrast. I love pastel colors - especially salmon colored poppies. That’s why it’s a dream come true to work in the pink marshmallow-like basement of Normann Copenhagen. I just looove the color.”

While Thilde works with a wide range of flowers, her favorite flower is the Lathyrus. “They come in all my favorite colors and I’m mesmerized by their citrus scent, which really comes through in the evening. That’s magical. At our wedding in the garden of our summerhouse in Rågeleje, I planted a whole wall with lathyrus - it was beautiful. I love the way they grow up fast and need each other to climb on. Their haptic and multi-sensuous impact with smell, fragile texture and extraordinaire way to grow is the very best to me.” 

Agnes vases complemented by orchids, anthurium and Thilde's favorite; the lathyrus.

THE INSPIRATION – from the queen of Denmark to the British queen of Ikebana
When asked about where she looks for inspiration, Thilde’s answer comes instantly: “Everywhere! - In popular culture, from my grandmother and from the visual arts. I’m also a huge fan of the Danish writer Karen Blixen and the Queen of Denmark in their anarchistic way of arranging flowers from their very own cut flower garden. One of my lifegoals is to grow my private cut garden - imagine walking out in your kimono every morning and picking fresh flowers with morning dew. It’s almost like a fairytale being strongly connected to the nature and much more romantic and sustainable than driving to the flower market early mornings, even though I drive an electric car." 

"One of my muses is the Mexican feminist artist Frida Kahlo, I love her fierce color palette and her quote: 'Viva la Vida', which has become the motto of Poppykalas. I think her whole life story and art is so life affirming, that I made a Frida-Kahlo theme for the baptism of my youngest daughter: Iris. What’s more lively than to wear flowers in your hair and be surrounded be strong colors?"

Glamorous color combinations in this piece with golden Krenit bowls and soft petals.

"Also, I am very influenced by the Berlin-based Ruby Mary Lennox. She is so talented and she always rocks her game in new and surprising ways still keeping it very classical. I even drove to Berlin with one of my best friends, just so I could order one of her stunning bouquets and buy her poppy and lathyrus seeds. I will never forget that trip. She turned everything around for me.

Recently I discovered the cool British queen of ikebana: Constance Spry. What a name! She build a Floral Empire with over 70 employees. Go buy her books, she is a genius. She inspired me to work differently and more ikebana-like with flowers. You can even detect some of her in this FLORAL INJECTION.”

FLOWER TRENDS– how to be on the cutting edge of florals

Flowers seem to be everywhere these days; a floral revolution is spreading across fashion, interior design etc. Thilde depicts two dominant directions in the flower trend. One is more oriented towards the artificial aesthetics, while the other one is more sustainable and romantic.


“The 80’s flower Anthurium has a revival, as many of the other flowers that looks artificial along with exotic flowers and palms. There is a clear theatricality going on and not so much the wildly arranged flowers anymore. I think we will see an incorporation of different textures like spray painted leaves, feathers, artificial flowers and other materials. The 80’s are back with colorful flowers and so is the Ikebana way of arranging flowers. Also, crossovers with different art forms and fields like this exhibition FLORAL INJECTION."

 The minimalistic white Still vases adorned with pansies.

"We tend to say human vs. nature, which is so wrong, because we are a part of nature and nature is a part of us. We can’t separate those two terms. Nature gives us energy and grounding. The Swedish Healing Gardens give stressed out and depressed people and war veterans a change to recover and recharge. In Japan, the Art of Ikebana is a therapeutic form that reinforces you. It’s scientifically proven that working with and perceiving flowers and being in the nature makes you happy. That’s also why we, luckily, tend to take more care of the nature. Ecological Flower Farmers are coming through like @cutgardenflower and in Denmark we have @vildevioler among many, who Poppykalas is going to collaborate with, when their flowers are blooming.”

How can we use flowers in décor in a new way? 

“Maximize. Go Big Ass. Go color crazy. Mix materials with feathers for example. Spray-paint leaves with gold and other colors. Dried flower is also in bad standing, because they remind many people of their grandparents and something old. Try to leave a bouquet a little longer than normal and see how it magically changes over time - it’s another kind of aesthetics. It’s a beautiful decay." 

"Try to challenge yourselves with your prejudices of flowers like lilacs and nellies, which are often seen as funeral flowers. But they are actually very beautiful. Try to work with flowers you don’t like, maybe they will challenge you and end up looking beautiful. Many people tell me they don’t like roses because they are too romantic and old. But they like them the way I use them, where I unfold the leaves, like I did in FLORAL INJECTION."

We thank Thilde for letting us peek into her world. A final note?

“Don’t be afraid to wear flowers on your head - Viva la Vida.”


Poppykalas’ Instagram recommendations:

@ruby_marylennox from Berlin

@brrch_floral from NYC

@fjura_ from London

@azumamakoto from Japan

@rebeccalouiselaw from England

@floretflower from California