flower shops \ 2010-2011
"flower shops” studies the architecture, design and social form of one of the most common, yet neglected businesses, the flower business. The project is following a parallel path of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s study of the industrial architecture. It tries to find typologies and to find connections with similar forms of the flower business overseas. The uniqueness of shapes and solutions found in Bucharest’s flower shops is something truly outstanding for an outsider. Almost always green – because of the regulations, the flower shops represent the ballroom masks wore by their owners.
I have watched many times how the flower trade is done in Bucharest and I got interested in how these businesses are conducted. So, I started having conversations with these flower shop owners at the beginning of 2010.
I got familiar with some of them and I followed a sort of sociological study of these dealers. Some of them opened themselves to me and told me how they made profits over 60.000 RON (about 15.000 euros) in the days of March 1st and March 8th and how they sell each flower with twice the money with which they buy it. Some of them also told me that between February 28th and March 10th they make a profit worth a whole year (over 40.000 euros) – it depends on the area in which the shop is placed.
So, I made something like a flower price map, in order to understand the system. So, if they buy a tulip that comes from Holland with 20-25 euro cents, they sell them for 50-60 euro cents, the roses are bought for about a euro and them sold for 2-2.5. That is the system. They told me about the way they plan the placement of their shops (which are usually transportable). Thus, they are surrounding the metro stations and bus stations.
The most successful areas are found near the center of Bucharest, around hospitals, markets or cemeteries. A true wonder is that 26 flower shops are found all in one place – next to The Municipal Hospital, in the Eroilor area of Bucharest. All of them are next to another, glued together. The only shops found there are flower shops. I asked around why does this happen and how could this area be a good one, since all of them have the same sort of flowers and the exact same prices (all 26). An answer from a flower dealer astonished me: “We’re lucky that people get sick a lot and, as you know, there are funerals. So, a hospital is a good bet.”
Most of them have started with only one flower shop, but got to own 2-up to 3 of these square-shaped or rectangular shaped boxes, making it a family business. It is a system based on territorial influence. Most of the flower shop dealers are Romani (or Roma) and one of them told me that Romanians could never be truly efficient flower shop owners because Romanians don’t have the “guts for the job”- apparently you need courage and you must assume true risk in order to perform in this sort of business – in his opinion Romanians are very cheap and like sure bets, while Romani risk all they have every time, considering that the flower business is a cultural custom that is lifecasted onto the Romani.
So, I monitored about 108 flower shops from all around Bucharest and photographed them – some of them systematically – out of curiosity – to see how (and if) things change. I monitored flower shops from March 2010 to March 2011, studying the changes that occurred in this period.
Romanian artist Mircea Nicolae was interested in the design of Romanian kiosks and replicated them (newspaper kiosks, flowershops, etc), in Romanian Kiosk Co.