Creatively restless, Fleria is always striving to develop new ideas such as plant and flower installations, created collaboratively to soften urban spaces and endow them with cultural depth.
Floral designer Nina Ioannidou and her iconic brand disrupted the Greek flower retail market with creative energy and imagination, constantly developing new ideas on plant and flower installations for urban spaces
A comparatively small European capital, Athens has a disproportionate number of florists. Some present nothing more than vases of sickenly dyed carnations, ghastly orange gerberas and weary roses in refrigerators. Others are temples of extravagance, sporting generous window displays of clipped dwarf olive and kumquat trees, burgeoning green plants and luscious orchids.
Then there is Fleria, a store set apart by its creative energy and imagination.
Aspiring to be a civil engineer, Asimenia decided instead to study marketing at Athens Deree College and then worked in public relations and events. Frequently outsourcing floral decorations, she realized there was a gap in the market. Harnessing her creative aptitude with the organizational skills she honed in her job, Fleria was born. In the beginning she focused on the commercial development of the brand and, from 1985 through 2005, opened multiple stores in different Athenian residential districts as well as in malls. Along with this galloping retail outreach, Asimenia began to develop her own artistic ability.
Asimenia Ioannidou is Fleria’s founder and I always use her real name with its mercurial overtones rather than call her Nina. I have worked with her on many events, both festive and commercial, consulting her also on garden design and plant accessorization, enjoying her imaginative reach.
Asimenia Ioannidou is Fleria’s founder and I always use her real name with its mercurial overtones rather than call her Nina. I have worked with her on many events, both festive and commercial, consulting her also on garden design and plant accessorization, enjoying her imaginative reach
The main obstacle Asimenia encountered was the limited use of floriculture in Greece, where flowers were restricted to balconies and backyards. Greeks eagerly dispatched flowers for weddings, funerals, baptisms and holidays, yet never thought to use them in their home as a form of décor.
Fleria’s innovation targeted this gap and created many different containers for houseplants in order to appeal to a younger and less monied audience. Asimenia took the humble paper cup, the usual receptacle for Coca Cola and ice cream, and replaced its logo and graphics with vibrant photographs of Greek locations, fruits, vegetables, octopuses and the Greek Tsoliades, soldiers of the Presidential Guard.
The Fleria Flower Market range thus provided a very affordable paper pot for herbs and brightly coloured flowers. The Faces range presents nine cheeky and expressive faces from diverse nationalities crowned with a mop of herbs, succulents or miniature olive trees.
Her second idea, Greek Aroma, was a true homage to recycling or as she charmingly calls it, upcycling. Many Greek sauces, oils and feta cheese, all characteristic Greek products, are contained in stout metallic cans. Traditionally, once empty, these were planted with straggly pink carnations or geraniums and would adorn walls, verandahs steps and open-air cinemas.
Firstly Asimenia merely coloured the cans, but after much experimentation she managed to print images directly on to the metal. The Aroma Series either contain luscious basil plants or are sold with a seed growing kit, offering the appealing idea of growing your own herb garden.
As her store orders proliferated, challenging demands from clients led to the manufacturing of glass containers, which then developed into furnace baked vases. The most recognizable are luminous white, with elegant interweaving hands stretching upwards towards delicate orchids and gorgeous bouquets.
Asimenia’s inspiration is ignited by Greek topography and nature and all her pots and vases are proudly made in Greece. She recalls her family home in Ptolemaida, Kozani where the balcony overflowed with carnations and hydrangeas
From 2005 onwards, Asimenia began creative collaborations with various museums and cultural centres. Creating collages and painting her own pots, all fostered by further studies at Athens Vacalo College and elsewhere.
Asimenia’s inspiration is ignited by Greek topography and nature and all her pots and vases are proudly made in Greece. She recalls her family home in Ptolemaida, Kozani where the balcony overflowed with carnations and hydrangeas. Working and living in Athens, she regrets that her connection to flowers is lost in urban sterility, whilst there are beautiful gardens in Macedonia and the Peloponnese.