Interview: Albert Chan — the florist behind the captivating floral creations at Raffles Hotel
Sitting at the heart of the colonial 130-year-old Raffles Hotel lobby is an impressive floral centrepiece that steals the spotlight as soon as you step into the grand space.
Showcasing beautiful arrangements that change on a weekly basis, these floral features are a hallmark of the establishment. Some arrangements may even use up to 400 stalks of flowers! We meet the man behind these captivating floral creations, Albert Chan.
Tell us about your background in floral arrangement.
I’ve been with Raffles Hotel for 51⁄2 years, but I used to own a florist shop. Floral arrangement started out as a hobby for me; I did decorations in church, and from there, I picked up the skill myself with tips from friends in the industry.
What kind of work goes into creating each centrepiece?
We do different designs each week, making sure the colours are not repeated for the next centrepiece. We try blending flowers with the chosen shades – setting it all up can take up to three hours. We start from the top to get a rough estimate of the height, and slowly put the piece together stalk by stalk – it’s almost like dressing up a lady!
What inspires your creations?
It’s all about the impression. Since this is a historical building where the lobby has traditionally high ceilings, the centrepiece needs to be in proportion with the visual height of the space. It also has to be colourful enough to be an instant head-turner. We design according to seasons and occasions, too.
What other arrangements do you create?
All floral pieces around the hotel are created by my team at Sir Charles. This includes centrepieces for weddings held in the ballroom, banquets, cocktail sidepieces and even arrangements for office meetings.
What considerations are there when selecting flowers to use?
I always choose long-lasting flowers, as the arrangement needs to last for at least a week. I don’t choose “fragile” flowers like tulips and roses, as they’ll need to be changed everyday. I also try to use those with long stems to attain a certain volume or height that is suitable for the lobby’s high ceilings.