Maison St-Germain 2019: An “Elderflower Meadow” by Manscapers in Greenpoint
Last night in Brooklyn, we joined St-Germain for its third annual Maison St-Germain celebration. Hosted in a large industrial space, The Greenport Terminal Warehouse, the event stunned for its lush installation. Hung above guests—like Maggie Gyllenhaal, Justin Mikita, Susan Alexandra, Lily Kwong, and Leandra Medine Cohen—was an immersive meadow installation by the landscaping design trio Manscapers.
Weighing in at 12 tons and floating 40 feet above, the living floral feature allowed for attendees to grab a cocktail—crafted by St-Germain North American Ambassador Earlecia Gibb—and wander beneath its enchantment. The 1,200-square-foot meadow invited guests beneath to enjoy the sights and fragrances of the dynamic flora, while dancing to beats by DJ Alix Brown.
On view through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the exhibition also benefits GreenThumb—the nation’s largest urban gardening nonprofit that supports community gardens throughout New York City—as all greenery will be donated.
To learn more about this year’s installation and designing sustainably, Whitewall spoke with the creatives behind Manscapers—Garrett Magee, James DeSantis, and Mel Brasier.
WHITEWALL: There are three of you behind the collective Manscapers. Tell us a bit about your background in design and how it led you to today.
MANSCAPERS: Manscapers was formed when we found a hole in the market for exterior design, and creating outdoor spaces for New Yorkers. Mel and James went to interior design school together and worked together on an off for almost a decade, and Garrett was working as a graphic designer and editor, when the three of us formed the company. We would throw backyard parties every season in May to kick off the summer for Garrett’s birthday party in Mel and James’ backyard. The response to our design style and gardening was so well received we decided to take a crack at it, and ever since then we’ve been growing exponentially.
WW: Tell us a bit about your installation entitled “Elderflower Meadow.”
M: We wanted to create a lush and dynamic landscape within a monumental space, reinterpreting and reiterating a 1,000 elderflower meadow. Paying homage to the 1,000 handpicked elderflowers used to create each bottle of St-Germain, we’re fusing the industrious façade of Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse with the brand’s floral roots and paying ode to the ephemeral celebration of summer indulgence. Guests are invited to interact with the large-scale, 12-ton floating meadow that’s suspended 40 feet in the air, taking home their own florals.
WW: What does the piece figuratively say in this space?
M: Curtains of living florals underneath “The Elderflower Meadow” act as an invitation to explore a world that represents the elderflowers used to craft St-Germain, while bringing life, beauty, and joy to an unexpected place while symbolizing the liqueur’s versatility and elevation of cocktails. We’re extremely excited to host Maison St-Germain in the creative arts district of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, making it the first time the brand has crossed the river to Brooklyn for the annual event. As Brooklyn-based designers, and working in conjunction with Brooklyn-based production company The Gathery, we felt it was appropriate to bring Maison St-Germain to Greenpoint to really nail down the unexpected factor. Creating a dynamic and interesting art piece like this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and a colossal undertaking, but we really found our joy in an unexpected place working on this entire project, and executing such an achievement for us and the brand.
WW: Tell us a bit about why you decided to donate the flora to GreenThumb after the exhibit is over.
M: GreenThumb is an amazing organization that has a lot of public gardens, specifically in our neighborhood of Williamsburg, so it was a natural fit for us to partner with them. We know the type of plant materials gardens consistently use and need, and the materials we’ve selected are so beautiful we knew GreenThumb would be happy to incorporate and repurpose all of these plants into their already beautiful garden spaces. Plant and event/floral waste is a HUGE issue when breaking down anything of this size, so to be able to repurpose the entirety of the material and give back to our community really feels like a full circle contribution to Brooklyn.
WW: How do you think about sustainability when designing?
M: It’s a constant practice of ours in all aspects of our design. We don’t use invasive plants that overtake or overgrow within our spaces, and we use materials that return year after year. Our designs focus on the use of all-natural materials, and the maturation of a garden over time. Adding any plant life into once barren concrete spaces in New York already helps with air flow and oxygenation, but we take it a step further by using deciduous trees and local and native plantings that are not trucked across thousands of miles to reach their destination.
WW: Tell us a bit about some of your recent projects (we noticed you did some hotels, residential properties, and restaurants, like 56 Leonard, Gitano, and the Times Square AC Hotel).
M: We’ve been very lucky in our careers to have some amazing opportunities to design and collaborate on some incredible work. We’ve executed projects in such iconic buildings as 56 Leonard, the Zaha Hadid building, and Madison Square Tower. Our business started primarily as a residential landscape design company, but our commercial, hospitality and event design work has proved to be just as exciting, if not more. Gitano Garden of Love was definitely a highlight and proud moment, but we’ve been lucky enough to work on giant projects for the AC Hotels, Hotel Americano, the restaurants Llama Inn and Celestine. As we continue to grow working with brands like St-Germain and soon W Hotels for world pride, we will continue to grow our brand partnerships as the next logical step.