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Q&A: Green Fingers NYC

  • June 23rd, 2014 | Home

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    Ever since it opened last year, we can’t seem to stay away from Green Fingers. The first stateside outpost of Japanese plant stylist and creative director Satoshi Kawamoto, the East Village space functions as a plant store, boutique, and botanical studio. Satoshi spoke with us about living and working between Tokyo and NYC, and shared some plant styling tips.

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    We first came across your work in Tokyo, and were happy to learn that you recently opened a shop in the East Village. How has the experience been so far, and in what ways is it different from running your shops in Japan?
    So far it has been a fantastic journey. The basics of running shops are the same, but I think of my New York store more as a studio or canvas for my artistic work, to express my creativity.

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    Tell us a bit about how you got into botanical styling and illustration.  Have you always been interested in plants? What is it about them that inspires you? 
    I was always into drawing and illustration. With plants, I think my biggest influence was my grandmother, who liked them. When I was in high school, I was given a pot of dying Pencil Cactus at a discounted price. I was so happy that it revived and grew wonderfully, and that was the beginning of my fascination with the power and vigor of plants.

    I find plants inspiring because of the variations of the shapes and colors (as opposed to the bright beauty of flowers). The colors of leaves are green, lime green, dark green, Bordeaux green. They might have white dots, which I find gorgeous. I like to mix drawing/illustration with space design using greens and I feel that mix allows me to express myself most efficiently.

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    You’ve shown your work in exhibitions, opened five stores, collaborated with several brands on custom installations and retail spaces, and published books. What do you consider your best or favorite work thus far? Are there any upcoming projects you’re especially excited about?
    As I love them all, it is hard to decide on my favorite, but publishing my own book, Deco Room with Plants, might have been the biggest deal for me in a sense that I felt I expressed myself truly. We are planning on publishing the English edition before the end of this year, so stay tuned! We are also working on the sequence. Another favorite is a collaboration with Higashiya, a Japanese sweet brand, for their 10 year anniversary. I designed my own version of sweet and its package.

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    You now split your time between New York and Japan, which sounds amazing, but we imagine it’s not without its challenges. What’s been the hardest part about it, and the most rewarding?
    The hardest part is scheduling. When I am in New York, I might make clients wait, and when I am in Japan, I might make New Yorkers wait. But I always feel the need to be directly involved with clients. The biggest pleasure is to rediscover qualities in myself as Japanese. The short cycle of changing locations and subsequent inputting and outputting seems like a good fit for me right now.

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    After a particularly tough winter here in NYC, we’re ready to welcome warm weather vibes into our lives. We’d love to get some tips from you on ways to bring some much-needed freshness into our apartments this summer. 

    1. We’ve tried our hand at caring for cacti and succulents with varying degrees of success. What’s the secret, and are there any adjustments we should make for summer?
    The biggest trick in caring for cacti and succulents is, when there is abundant light, use less water. As they all have different pace of growth depending on the environment, I recommend you start with one thing you like – the form or the color. And watch out for burns from direct sun. It is important to pay attention to its own characteristic and test out different ways.

    2. Besides cacti and succulents, are there any other plants you find especially well-suited for small, indoor environments or fire escape gardens? 
    If your apartment is small, how about hanging plants from the ceiling? This is a method that I often use that gives another dimension. Staghorn Fern would be a good addition. When using a limited space outdoors, i.e. fire escape, I’d recommend things that aren’t tall.You can turn it into a kitchen garden and grow herbs. Herbs give you the pleasure of both growing and using as you can use them in cooking and bathing.

    3. Is there an easy styling tip you can share to change up a space? 
    Using props like stools and wooden boxes tighten the space and maximize the effect of having greens. When the season turns warm and you are motivated, you might do too much, but I recommend starting small with one pot. Just like designing your own home, or deciding on what to wear, mix plants with pots, frames, candles, or books and make the space your own.

    Many thanks to Satoshi! You can shop Green Fingers’ selection of greenery at 44B E 1st Street, and check out our selection of planters if you need motivation.

    - Photos by Connie Wang

    This entry was posted on Monday, June 23rd, 2014 at 5:47 pm and is filed under Home. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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