Ask the Roni Floral Design team if there’s a quote that represents the company’s core values, and they’ll respond with a classic adage from Audrey Hepburn: “Elegance is the only beauty that never fades.” With tastes and trends constantly changing every season, it’s often artists who approach their work with a sense of timelessness and authenticity who enjoy the most longevity. For this team in particular, it's their long history in the realm of floral art that sets them apart from others. As one of the top floral designers in the world, Roni Floral Design has become synonymous with Monaco and the South of France, producing the most lavish weddings and celebrations for an elite list of clients.
The Roni team consists of: Emmanuel Barelier, director; Jean-Marie Barelier, floral designer, producer, and staff training director; Nicolas Barelier, floral designer, set designer, event manager, and VIP relationship coordinator; and Audrey Barelier, floral creator, new textures analyst, and floral art specialist. Not only do they share the same family name, but these four individuals all stem from a rich heritage of floral art and innovation that spans more than 130 years.
During the 19th century, a young man by the name of Constantin Barelier arrived at the Côte d’Azur. He instantly fell in love with everything the region had to offer, from its scents to its scenery, and became a horticulturalist in the Cap d’Antibes. In 1887, Constantin was given the prestigious title of “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” – a competition that is currently held every four years and translates to, “Best Craftsman in France.” For the rest of his life, Constantin reveled in his love of flowers and passed that same passion on to his descendants including Joseph, his son, and Robert, his grandson.
The Roni name was created in 1971, after Robert grew up and married Nicole, the daughter of a family client. They both shared the same affinity for all things pertaining to flowers, which led to them opening the first Roni Fleurs boutique in Cagnes-sur-Mer and naming the shop “Roni,” as it combined their first names. Later on, Robert and Nicole’s family grew to include Emmanuel, Jean-Marie, Nicolas, and Audrey who were “born in a flower universe, where fields of roses were their favorite playground.” What started as four self-taught siblings packaging flowers on the ground floor of their parents’ home, has grown exponentially into a brand that reflects the top floral designers in the world.
“We wanted to make an impression with unique and original creations,” state the siblings. “Today, floral art continues to take root in the beauty of the ephemeral and this exciting feeling creates an unalterable link with a demanding clientele, enamored with French savoir-faire and tailor-made designs.”
Based in the French Riviera – with shops in Juan-les-Pins, Cannes, Monaco, Courchevel, and Antibes – the Roni Floral Design aesthetic is inherently French. By perusing through photos and films of their past events, one may find elements and aesthetics that allude to various parts of French culture, whether it’s yacht parties in Saint Tropez or the gardens at Versailles. Yet with clients around the globe, there’s no limit to where the team can produce their elaborate celebrations and share part of their French culture with the world. Even the flowers used by Roni are sourced as much as possible from France, with the team also outsourcing to Italy and the Netherlands to find the perfect blooms.
The signature Roni Floral Design style is atypical, elegant, and tailored down to the very last detail – something that clients are aware of when they begin the collaboration process. For many couples, having the opportunity to travel abroad and meet with any of the Barelier siblings at one of their exclusive locations is a dream come true; and as one would assume, co-creating a wedding with them is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“There are several appointments and different steps,” says the team, describing what one can expect when working with Roni. “At first there are several meetings, then appointments at the wedding site. We then submit a file with a design proposal and drawings made by our designer, Jessica, plus vision boards. Then we organize samples in our workshop so our client can get a preview of the volumes, colors, and shapes. We define the accessories to be integrated.”
Past Roni Floral Design clients include an impressive network of brands and individuals. Luxury fashion houses like Philipp Plein, Roberto Cavalli, Louisaviaroma, and De Grisogono have used Roni flowers at their events. International personalities like Naomi Campbell, Elton John, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Magic Johnson have employed their services; and Roni has produced some spectacular evenings for major galas like AmFAR and UNICEF.
Even with sizeable production teams, it can be overwhelming to see the final result of a Roni event and imagine the work required to bring such an intricate and large-scale vision to life. From safely transporting the flowers, to setting up the décor structures, to ensuring the floral designs look immaculate from every camera angle possible, it’s a massive undertaking. However, considering the family element and multiple roles each Roni sibling plays, it’s clear that there’s an exceptionally well-oiled machine keeping everything operating according to schedule.
“Teamwork is important to us,” says the Roni family. “We complement each other. Meeting with different professionals is always very motivating. There’s a constant progression. To be able to evolve and to work in places such as the Opera Garnier or Bercy gives us satisfaction – to be able to continue to work as a family and to satisfy our passion.”
The Roni portfolio is filled with awe-inspiring creations. A heavenly wedding ceremony at Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte with golden fixtures holding up massive cascades of white Phalaenopsis; a reception at Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo with crystal and rose-covered tabletops surrounded by a curtain of vibrant pink-purple orchids; an escort card table at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild with a custom tree and dozens of suspended roses; or a massive Christmas tree display at La Jungle Du Roi in Cannes with oversized gingerbread men. There’s always a certain je ne said quoi in the final design.
In such a saturated industry with millions of weddings and events being held each year, one of the biggest challenges designers face is constantly coming up with new ideas and visuals that haven’t been done before. For the Roni siblings, however, they have mastered the art of creating new floral displays that are not only innovative and fresh, but still maintain an element of their signature aesthetic. They credit designer Daniel Host for providing the inspiration behind some of their designs; but ultimately, like any artist, it’s their unique experiences and perspectives that are the driving force behind their seemingly bottomless well of creativity.
“Our inspiration occurs through our travels and meeting people from different cultures and countries,” says the team. “We also get inspired by our clients’ desires and strive for perfection when creating stunning floral artwork.”
Roni Floral Design has something that is truly unique to them – generations of passion, creativity, and a genuine love of floral artistry. For a family business to succeed in any niche market is impressive. What the Bareliers have accomplished, by growing and thriving for well over a century, is truly remarkable.
>Written By: Lauren Malamala