People with Passion: Willow Crossley Creates
Willow Crossley has become a household name and a favourite amongst journalists, big brands and celebrities in the last few years; from her floral artistry, work as a stylist and as co-owner of two fantastic Cotswold pubs, she is a very busy lady!
With a background in design, Willow trained at the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers. She creates floral arrangements for events and weddings and has recently supplied flowers for Chanel, Anthropologie, Jo Malone and Mulberry. On top of this Willow has a hugely successful range of faux floral bouquets and arrangements with OKA and has somehow found the time to publish three books….In her own words…
‘I am completely mad about flowers; nothing makes me happier than creating ravishing floral bouquets and displays. I grew up in Wales surrounded by nature and wonderful gardens and inside we had flowers on every surface. It feels wrong to me now not to have some sort of floral decoration at home. If I can’t get my hands on flowers, I'll compromise by using other natural treasures - shells, plants, branches, feathers’.
1. Willow, what a busy couple of years you have had. The new pub, The Swan at Ascott, looks amazing, you have such natural flair and style! What are your top interior tips?
Thankyou! I don’t follow trends. Consciously anyway. I think your home should be an extension of you. Your space where you can ‘be you’. So if you love colour, embrace it – don’t be forced into beige neutrals, because that’s what the latest trend report is telling you to do.
2. You have an obvious eye and talent for design and you describe your style as wild and natural rather than formulaic. Colour is a major part of flower arranging, do you have some colour rules you always adhere to, or do you just go with what’s in the garden, in season and your instinct?
Again, not consciously. I have some colours that I tend to steer clear of – mostly yellow and orange – apart in dahlia season when I’m all over it - I will always try and work seasonally first and foremost but at this time of year especially, its hard. Right now though, I want colour in everything – flowers, interiors, my wardrobe.
3. As a busy working mother of three young boys and with all your floral artistry, Oka, corporate events and pop-ups, how do you find the time and remain sane! What advice do you have for young people starting out in the design world?
I feel a very long way from sane! I think my main mistake in the beginning was that I spread myself too thin. I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go so did a little bit of everything – a bit of interiors, bit of flowers, writing, personal shopping, styling. This meant I never did anything particularly well. Since I made the decision to focus on just interiors and flowers, life became much more manageable.
4. As you know our paints are made from 100% natural ingredients and inspired by nature and history. What would be your ultimate colour mix from our paint collections and why have you chosen them to go together?
I’d love to do Cuisse de Nymph in a bathroom with heavily veined, Arabescato black and white marble with brass fittings. I’m also a big fan of your Invisible Green which I’ve put in the Swan with Cole & Son’s new Khulu Vases. Its’ quite a punchy mix – quite Marmite - you either love it or hate it!
5. What has been the best life advice you have been given?
If you want something done well, do it yourself.
6. Could you tell us someone who has inspired you and who you would love to have lunch with?
Constance Spry, Mary Mulcahy and Rita Konig.
7. And….where would you take them to lunch? Possibly one of your own pubs…..The Swan at Ascott or The Bull at Charlbury…if so…what would you order?
We would go to the Swan and I’d have a cheeseburger and sticky toffee pudding.
8. What would be your top 3 desert island reads and why?
I am so embarrassed to admit how few books I’ve read since having children. I’ve just started ‘The Choice’ by Edith Eger which I’m really enjoying and would love to go to a desert island to finish it.
9. Do you have favourite songs or artists you listen to whilst working - What would be your top 3 desert island discs be and why?
I Like the cheesiest, poppiest songs I can get my hands on when I’m working. Anything to make me dance and keep me from freezing – my studio is outside. I love a bit of Country - the Waifs - an Australian band are big favourites in our house. And now its December I’m insisting on Christmas carols.
10. What is your favourite room in your house? What would be your ideal room colour for it?
We live in our kitchen.It’s covered in Sanderson’s Swallows at the moment- a wallpaper - but I’d love to re-do it in a bold ‘Vert de Mer’ stripe to match the curtains.
11. You have led a hugely successful and diverse career journey so far, from journalist to floral artist and now managing two pubs….what would you love to do next?
You give me too much credit – Charlie manages the pubs, I just decorate and fill them with flowers! I want to start making products – ceramics, vases, homeware, and I’m working on a new book.
12. Could you share with us your favourite colours and inspiration for readying the house for Christmas?
I want it to feel quite mystical and magical this year. I’ll use lots of painted asparagus ferns in goldy, pewter tones, frothy old man’s beard and maybe even clouds of gypsophilia. Saying that, I have promised to let the boys decorate the tree and there’s nothing remotely mystical about the one-armed Lego men, Ninja Turtles and yoghurt pots that they insist on adding…
Posted: December 2017