- My floral designs are always inspired by my travels. Even if I’m traveling for work, I make sure to allow a day or two in my itinerary in which I can walk around town and absorb its energy. It doesn’t have to be a specific destination, I just walk wherever I feel like walking to get a sense of the city. By doing so, ideas naturally come to mind about what kind of flower arrangements I’d like to make. When traveling, I like to sketch my ideas. These days I store my sketches categorized by city. They help me remember what I thought of the city and who I was at the time, so they’re a very good resource to have.
- It’s already been twenty-five years since I established a base here in Japan. The first thing I had to confront when I arrived in Japan was the language barrier. I worked at a florist during the day, and at night I would write down the words I couldn’t understand and try to use them at work the following day. It took a long time, but by doing so repeatedly, I eventually managed to overcome the barrier. The biggest difference between the cultures of Japan and Denmark, where I was born, is above all the way we approach our jobs. In Denmark, your family and private life naturally come first. Meanwhile, in Japanese culture, you prioritize your job and are expected to work long hours. At first, I was perplexed by the difference, but since I enjoy my job and love flowers, I gradually began to accept this culture. Nowadays, I’m proud to call myself an even hard worker than the Japanese!
It’s important to make changes,
especially when things are going well.
- In 2022, we opened Nicolai Bergmann Hakone Gardens in the town of Gora, Hakone. It isn’t just a garden where we show pretty flowers. Spanning 8,000 tsubo [roughly 28,000 square meters], it’s a vast area of land where we challenge ourselves to create a garden that allows you to enjoy nature itself. Nature is always unpredictable. Just when you think it’s getting green and lush in the spring, plants grow and grow until they prevent the sun from reaching the ground. Or it would rain more than expected, hindering plant growth. Every time we hit a wall, we change directions because we realize that we should probably adopt an approach that’s closer to nature. Hydrangeas and camellias grow easily here since they’re native to Hakone, but I made sure to choose varieties that you don’t usually see in the wild, such as uniquely shaped hydrangeas and black camellias. This coming season, we’ll be placing chaise lounges and other chairs around the garden in collaboration with the Danish furniture brand Fritz Hansen. I invite you to pick a spot and spend a relaxing time gazing at the flowers.
- It’s been around ten years since I first began thinking about creating a garden in Gora. My team and I designed the garden ourselves and built it with the support of the locals, but so far, we’ve only managed to utilize around twenty percent of the space. I look forward to taking our time to try things out. When I’m creating something, what always stimulates and inspires me is change. That’s probably one of the reasons why I like creating gardens and keep making changes to them, and why I love to travel.
- This year, we renewed our flagship in Minami-Aoyama. We took the plunge and broke down walls and various other things to give the store more visibility. Specifically, we made it so that you could see people making flower arrangements and cooking food inside the café from the front. Before, we hid these activities behind a wall so that customers couldn’t see. But if you think about it, flowers and food are fun to watch. I realized that it would be better for customers if they could see it. Some would ask “Why would you revamp the store and café when they’re already doing so well?” Personally, I think it’s important to make changes, especially when things are going well. Because success can be found in change, in the unknown.
- These days, I’m trying to change the way I travel, too. I used to frequent the same hotel or the same brand of hotels, but now I try to choose a hotel I’ve never stayed at before, or research smaller city hotels. Even when you’ve been to a city many times, it makes you happy when you find a great hotel you never knew about.