For practising architect Jasmine Mariani, a new floral business wasn’t originally on the cards. In fact, Jungle in Here initially began as a means of therapy. The 29-year-old was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, and florals were her way of slowing down her life.
Prior to getting sick, her job as an architect and project manager required her to be constantly on the move – either on-site, buying materials, or meeting clients. Previously shuttling between Bali and Singapore, Mariani had to drop everything and move back to Singapore indefinitely to start treatment.
“Once my cancer symptoms were in full swing, I had no energy to work as I had before, and my schedule was all over the place with chemotherapy,” shares Mariani. “Flowers became a creative medium that I could play with at home, on my own terms, in my own time.”
As she started sharing her arrangements on social media, she soon got requests to make them for her friends’ mothers, sisters and even aunt’s friend’s cousin. In August this year, Jungle In Here’s IG (@jungleinhere_) was set up and requests started trickling in.
As her floral business grew in popularity through word-of-mouth and the gram, Mariani officially launched Jungle in Here’s website in October. Arrangements are influenced by Mariani’s architectural background, as well as her time in Bali.
“I have a pretty deep aversion to unnecessary waste, especially plastic- and this is because of living in Bali,” explains the Italian-Mauritian creative who is also a part-time model signed to Ave Management.
“After seeing the amount of plastic waste ending up in the oceans, rivers and jungles, it became obvious to me that anyone working in any profession should practice in a circular sort of system.”
Practising what she preaches, no floral foam or plastic is used in her creations. Bouquets and arrangements are either hand-tied with reusable rope, or presented in glass vases. A handmade series of ceramic vessels, titled Cartoccio (Italian for “foil or textured paper”) are also available for purchase.
You’ve mentioned on your site that the business grew out of a search to slow things down. Would you consider your brand part of the ‘slow movement’?
“I believe we are in age where we constantly look to ‘tomorrow’. We tend to lack presence in the actual moment and in return, miss out on much of the experience and its lessons. And I say ‘we’ because I’m guilty of it too. I am curious and restless in nature, so taking the time to smell the roses is not always realistic.
But it’s not enough to just slow down, we need to make decisions and execute actions with a sense of awareness and intention. A notion I try to express through my designs is mindfulness. I am mindful of who the flowers are for, but I am also mindful of the purpose each flower in a composition is able to serve. I remind myself to notice the flowers’ colour, shape, texture and what it will look like in a few days, amongst other details.”
How has your architectural background influenced your floral designs, and vice versa?
“I have noticed a lot of similarities, and a lot of distinctions, in how I approach my work in the realm of architecture and florals. I think the main difference is that while architecture as a process is so drawn out and a building in itself is typically permanent, flowers are quite fleeting in comparison. There is definitely a study that goes into both an architectural and floral project, but the duration of the latter result is more ephemeral.
I do think that my comprehension of the importance of structure and balance in the architectural language does translate into my interpretation of floral design, but there is more relation on an intangible, sensory scale over everything. What am I trying to translate through my choice of building material? How does the cold touch of polished concrete differ from the warmth of wood?
Or, similarly, why choose the softness of eustoma petals over the almost rubbery aesthetic of an anthurium? In both realms, I look to communicate through the language of emotional perception to get my intention across.”
How has living in Bali influenced your work?
“Living between Bali and Singapore is definitely eye-opening – the two places are so vastly different on many levels. A lot of people assume that living in Bali is like one giant holiday, and while it does have its perks, living there requires a lot of patience.
One thing I love about Bali is the Tri Hita Kirana philosophy: the three causes of happiness. The relation humans have with God, with fellow humans and with nature. I think even the most unspiritual person will leave Bali sensing some sort of energy shift. While I am not religious, I do believe that Bali opens you up to interpreting a deeper connection and meaning to everything, mainly to living beings and things.
Being in a place so abundant with natural resources and craftsmanship has also allowed me to experiment with architecture in a way not really possible in Singapore, or any other city. It creates far more possibilities. I feel like this sense of personalisation has definitely dominated my subsequent work in floral arts.”
How long does the whole floral design process take, from ideation to final product?
“This definitely depends! As of right now, I have mainly focused on individual hand-tied bouquets or arrangements presented in vases, mostly because it’s what I feel most confident with. I would love to take things to the next level, but I’m not there yet.
I have a minimum order time of 24 hours. This gives me the literal time I need to conceptualise the flowers, source them, arrange and deliver them. I dedicate most of my time to conceptualising them, which is why I always ask for information on the recipient.
I typically go to my flower sources with an idea of colour and shape in mind, but the selection of flowers of course depends on what is most freshly available.”
How do you go about working with customers to curate the designs?
“For one-off orders (bouquets, arrangements, objects), I typically receive orders online. I don’t end up meeting most of these clients. In the cases of curation or special requests, I meet with customers face to face, visit the venues I am curating for, and document everything as I go along.
I ask both the client and myself a series of questions: What purpose or intention will the flowers serve? What existing colours or elements are present within the space? Who will be experiencing the designs?
After a first initial meeting, I put together a brief summary of what was discussed. After a general direction is agreed upon, I give a quotation. I will always do my best to work around whatever time or financial constraint is more appropriate for the client. I believe that there everyone is entitled to beautiful florals and the experience they provide.”
Could you describe the brand’s zero-waste approach? How does it champion sustainability?
“Bali’s waste situation is really confronting. Everyone should strive to adopt a more responsible practice in whatever he/she does. In florals, the most obvious thing to me was eliminating any and all use of plastic. This includes floral foam, rubber bands, cling wrap for cotton wool hydration wraps, plastic flower tubes (these can be reused though) and unnecessary packaging.
Arrangements are all presented in glass vases. Each item comes with a notecard printed on recycled kraft paper. Instead of floral foam, I use mesh and moss as reusable or natural alternatives. With deliveries and vase collections (usually for curation or subscription clients), I try to group as many orders together as possible to decrease my carbon footprint.
Lastly, I look to composting as a solution for all the cutoffs, stems and leaves that accumulate. I am still experimenting with a composting system that works in an apartment setting, but would prefer to engage the services of an existing composting facility. While I have found this in Bali, I have yet to come across the right one in Singapore. Singapore-based composting businesses, hit me up!”
Tell us more about your handmade object series ‘Cartoccio’ too. What is your inspiration for that?
“My first and only pottery class was at the start of chemotherapy. Aside from being pretty flat-out energy-wise, I had a PICC line (semi-permanent IV where chemo is administered) attached to the inside of my left forearm which prevented me from doing a lot of physical activity. I love working with my hands so ceramics seemed like the right choice.
During the class, I knew I wanted to make a vessel of some sort. sort. I kind of added things as I went along. As objects, I wanted the Cartoccio vessels to provide a house for whatever they were displaying, but also be able to exist on their own. My father saw the first one I did and said it looked like ‘cartoccio’, Italian for foil or textured paper. They might have a look of lightness and fragility, but they are actually fairly heavy and solid to the touch.”
You mentioned on your brand’s IG that you will be based in Bali from February next year. Will your business move there as well?
“If there’s one thing this year has taught me, it is the uncertainty of the future and the mistake of planning too far ahead. I hope to re-commence my usual back and forth between Bali and Singapore by February, but between cancer and Covid, who knows.
I have a couple of big scans and checks coming up. So if those come back looking good (fingers and toes crossed), in combination with easier travelling, then February might work.
I’ll still mostly be based in Singapore, but I would love to bring my floral art back to Bali. What I do know is that whether I am here or in Bali, my practice will always be multidisciplinary in nature.”
Any upcoming collaborations in the works, or other projects you are excited about?
“Yes! I am taking my time honing my practice, but I am excited and scared (in a good way) for a few things I have committed to in the near future.
With Christmas around the corner, I have a small Christmas Collection that will be open to pre-orders soon. Let’s call it unconventional, in true Jungle in Here fashion.
I’ve started to curate a few venues and will be collaborating with independent brands for displays and upcoming photoshoots. As per usual, I will document and upload it to social media when it’s all ready!”