Freshly cut flowers in a pot in the middle of the living room table, aromatic herbs in a garden in the kitchen window, terrariums in the bedrooms, or climbing plants adorning certain sections of the wall or even shrubs adjoining the sofa. Plants are an integral part of the universe and the decor that hoteliers want to create and offer to their customers, always looking for novelty and astonishment.
In this perpetual quest for renewal, plant decoration imposes a real thinkingand can be bold to those who dare to marry colours and essences. This audacity may be to invite a tree inside the entrance hall of an establishment or hidden in a more private room. This is the bet taken by Anne-Sophie Breband.
After fifteen years in communication, where she stimulated her creativity, the former Toulouse student decided to leave everything behind to pursue a crazy idea: to create with her hands. A vocation born late on the other side of the Channel after a meeting with the floral designer Zita Elze. At the artist’s academy, she discovered a new passion for plant creation and decided to make it her profession.
To distinguish herself, she decides to work around the tree. “For me, the tree is a symbol of balance and life. It has become a central element of my creative development. It is an invitation to calm down in a world where everything is going very quickly,” she explains, convinced that she has found her way. Thus born Maison Arbusta with the desire to bring the tree to the heart of the habitat and to make more than an element of decoration.
In one year, the refined and refined style of Anne-Sophie Breband’s creations has already seduced many architects who trust her to bring her sense of aesthetics to their projects. For the Journal des Palaces, this art lover took the time to explain her work philosophy, her commitments, and her aspirations.
Journal des Palaces: When was Maison Arbusta created?
Anne-Sophie Breband: I created Maison Arbusta in 2022, on March 15 precisely. There are dates that stand out. This one in particular, it is the result of 2 years of work to develop and concretize an idea: create custom-made indoor trees, fully customizable and without any maintenance.
Often, new ideas are received with varying degrees of enthusiasm. When it is yours, you wear it with conviction and energy, but that doesn’t mean that the journey is simple and without surprises. It is therefore not without pride that I blew the first candle of Maison Arbusta this year.
Why did you embark on this adventure?
Back in France in 2020, I noticed that the offer of vegetation for our interiors is limited and lacks customization. This observation gives rise to the desire to combine interior design and floristry. While the interior design market is experiencing an important development in France, increasing the need to create an interior that makes sense, in which we feel good, I saw in it the opportunity to propose an alternative to meet a pressing need of nature in our interiors.
Maison Arbusta’s offer is unlike any other. It goes beyond the classical cactus, green plants and synthetic trees, I exploit a creative universe little developed: the plant sculpture. My entirely handmade creations and the personalization of my approach, allow me to offer an unrivalled decorative experience.
Putting my creativity at the service of plants and developing a non-existent offer were the main drivers of this beautiful adventure. Moreover, the architects and interior designers with whom I have been able to work, highlight the uniqueness of my creations as one of their main riches.
What exactly is your activity?
My will is to offer a new vision of the plant for our interiors. To offer a decorative experience that fits perfectly to the universe of my clients, whether for a salon, an office, or a shop. An approach to plant design that emphasizes authenticity, uniqueness and natural materials.
How do you select your raw material?
During my two years of development, sourcing raw materials has been tedious. As in many sectors, the offer is extended with products and know-how of varying quality. I defined a specification to refine my selection: French or even European production, to limit transport, no use of chemicals. I work with suppliers using food dyes or stabilization by immersion only for a better hold in time.
Another example, my trees are delivered on untreated raw steel bases. I work exclusively with a metalworker and steel sculptor based in the south of France. He makes my custom-made bases according to my technical constraints. As part of the realization of a plant triptych, we drew together a base of 170 cm (66.9 inches) long to support the three trees. A unique 40 kg (88.2 pounds) piece that fits perfectly with the decor I wanted to create for this real estate agency. A beautiful meeting that allows me to propose to my clients customizable solutions from a real know-how.
You work on trees and plants with a real concern for the natural. How does your activity fit into a sustainable and responsible approach?
My initial desire was to reinterpret nature's codes, without distorting them. It is therefore natural that my activity is part of a sustainable and responsible approach.
Starting with the trunks. I work with pruners from my region. I thus recover the trunks and branches with potential, with each of their interventions. The trunks are then dried for three to four months in hangars, suspended by «the head» so that the tree keeps its original shape. There are no reconstructed trunk at Maison Arbusta.
At the same time, I choose to use plants that are stable and require no maintenance, which is also part of a more sustainable approach.
Do you want to convey a message through your creations? If so, which one?
Some of my creations are available in stores. One day, the manager told me that the items (sofas, coffee tables, lights) presented in atmospheres integrating my trees were sold more quickly. Is there a message? I don’t know, but a cause and effect link is certain.
If the benefits of nature in our interiors are no longer to be proven, I sincerely believe that my trees are a hymn to serenity, to appeasement. I make the observation with each of my deliveries, which are the opportunity to capture the reactions hot of my customers.
What do you draw on to create?
My inspiration comes from the atmosphere I want to give a place, and from my ability to work on a feeling. The soul of the place and the personality of my clients are important creative guides. Hence, my desire to make custom-made, and not sales in volume.
Recently, I collaborated with a wedding dress designer for her Lyon showroom. A sublime place in a beautiful Haussmannian flat, an exhibition place of know-how, lace, embroidery, fineness of materials and fabrics. A rich source of inspiration. For this project, I was inspired by lace. Based on fern and miscanthus, I created a fine, refined, light lace to dress the tree that will become a central element of the showroom.
How do you then concretely translate your inspiration?
For each of my projects, I follow a creative process that I've defined. Once the visit of the place is done, the essential step to stimulate my inspiration and take possession of the spaces; I translate my inspiration with the creation of herbarium, a sample of the alliances of foliage that I wish to use for my creation.
For most projects, the validation of the herbarium is enough to give life to the creation. In some cases, I may have to make «prototype branches» to allow the client to project more easily.
How long can a creation take?
The size of the tree, the foliage used for the creation are the components of the creation time. For a light and minimalist rendering, I use the «compositional» approach, a sheet-to-sheet method allowing to compose each of the branches individually. A meticulous, precise work that certainly requires time but the rendering is exceptional. For a tree of 200 cm (78.7 inches), the minimum size for a creation, it takes 60 hours of work.
What is the most exceptional or daring creation you have made?
For me, audacity is to dare, to never forbid anything. My white trees are today at the origin of many projects. They are bold, created with alliances of foliage never seen before. Both chic and sophisticated, they are the signature of Maison Arbusta.
How many employees does the company have?
Maison Arbusta, it’s me. I chose not to have a live collaborator, but to surround myself with competent people in their field to grow my company. I'm an ambassador of freedom, I'm convinced of the benefits of freedom in work. It guarantees initiative, well-being and surpassing oneself. Also, I take the time for meetings, to never miss the opportunity of a fruitful collaboration for Maison Arbusta. As I said earlier, being on the move is being alive. I also apply it to my business model.
What is your vision of luxury?
Luxury is the ability to offer a unique experience. The uniqueness results in a sophisticated and successful personalization.
With which prestigious institutions do you collaborate?
Today, I've the chance to be consulted about prestigious projects through my network of interior architects and decorators that I developed during this first year. Whether for showrooms, stores or hotels, these projects are beautiful creative opportunities. I hope to be able to share them with you in the near future.
What are the requirements of the luxury hotels you work with?
Wonder and exclusivity. Working with plant matter is a real advantage, as nature is endowed with a natural power to arouse wonder.
What are your next development projects?
Earlier, I talked about the importance of the customer experience and its uniqueness. Today, Maison Arbusta trees are unique, and I want to go further in personalization with the possibility to create a tailor-made fragrance for each of my creations.
A journalist with many skills and an ever curious traveller, Christopher has a great attraction for carefully refined hotels, where characterful gastronomy, impeccable service and sincere elegance go hand in hand. A discreet and gourmet pen at the service of a certain idea of luxury.