Colourful Conversations with a Flower Lover

Rocco Forte Hotels
JUL 12th

It’s a Riot of Blooms in Brussels:

A Q&A with Anette Katz

Every two years a carpet of rainbow-coloured flowers fills Brussels’ cobbled Grand-Place. One woman, more than any other, is behind Brussels’ extraordinary bi-annual floral display.

Without the passion of Annette Katz there would be no Flower Carpet. On the 50th anniversary of the event, we spoke to the woman behind the blooming extravaganza which fills the UNESCO World Heritage square in the heart of the Belgian capital. From there it’s only a few minutes’ walk to Hotel Amigo where our resident florist, Do Flower, is creating our first-ever floral carpet. 

A small scale reproduction of the design in the main square, our mini carpet is viewable in our hotel lobby for a month from 12th August 2022. Our display will be unveiled at an intimate launch party to the sound of summer cocktails clinking in ice-cold glasses.

How did you first get involved in the Brussels Flower Carpet?

My adventure started in 1979, when I was in my early twenties. It was the year the city celebrated its millennium. I was working alongside about 20 people who were responsible for special celebratory events throughout Brussels, from the Parc de Bruxelles de la Monnaie to the Grand Place.

The first highlight of the millennium show was when Ella Fitzgerald came to sing on the Grand Place of Brussels. The second highlight was the carpet of flowers.

You became the chief organiser, how did that come about?

After the millennium celebrations ended, I stayed on. At 22 or 23 years old, I was responsible for all the outdoor events in the city, organising free concerts and lots of other exciting activities. That’s when I asked myself, “why not try to make a Flower Carpet again?”

I contacted the people who had created the carpet in 1979 and we set about making the Flower Carpet permanent. It took five or six years before we succeeded but we achieved our goal in 1984.

How did you make the carpet a regular event?

I took responsibility for the non-profit association behind the Flower Carpet, a partnership between the growers in the flower region (in the province of Brabant, then part of Brussels), and the city of Brussels.

From there I became the person in charge and organiser of the whole association. I wanted to ensure it returned every two years, against the will of the alderman of culture at the time.

Bringing one million blooms to the city centre is a huge undertaking, how does it happen?

Renewing the event every two years is feasible. But of course it wouldn’t happen without the begonia suppliers and all the people we still work with today to continue this wonderful event.

The Flower Carpet has been blooming for 50 years, how do you start afresh each time?

The young graphic designer, 25-year-old Roo Aguillar Aguado, who created the Mexican rug for the last carpet worked with our technical director on this year’s project to design a Belgian style rug, a reinterpretation of the original 1971 carpet. The illumination of certain buildings, live music and play of light are also an important part of the experience. As for the future of the carpet? I dream of being able to walk around inside the Flower Carpet where there would be orchestras playing. I’d love to see a more garden-like setting, hosting special events.

Now that you’ve taken a step back, how do you feel about the event you started?

It's such a beautiful image of Brussels. The best-selling postcard of the Grand Place is the one with a Flower Carpet, so it makes me proud of my city. I'm a Brussels citizen, born and bred, I love my city and I love flowers.

The bar has been raised high for the next generation of organisers behind Brussels’ spectacular floral installation. Tucked away behind Grand-Place, Hotel Amigo is an easy stroll to the Flower Carpet. To secure tickets, contact our Concierge Marc Neuville for details at concierge.amigo@roccofortehotels.com or +32 2547 4736.