Biophilia—a desire to be close to nature—is a growing trend in interior design. Meet the woman who introduced it to Miami.
The entrance of “Healing Cave," an installation created with Arcadia
In the last decade Paloma Teppa has gone from making orchid arrangements at home in her bikini to conceptualizing interior spaces for top developers in Miami, New York City and Los Angeles. She is the queen of biomimicry, convincing real estate tycoons with last names like Sternlicht and LeFrak about the importance of bringing nature indoors. She is transforming how we live, what we consider art and soon how we dress. But first: What the heck is biomimicry?
“To biomimic is to design representing Mother Nature,” explains Teppa. “So, for example, when I design a little garden or a landscape... I try to bring materials that are made from Mother Nature and reproduce them like a natural environment.”
The Assemblage, a coworking space in New York City
We are sitting in the garden at Mandolin Aegean Bistro, where Teppa occasionally pauses her story to stroke the ridged bark of an oak next to our table. (“He is 30 years old,” she says. “No, no, he must be 20.” She is talking about the tree, not the dashingly handsome Italian businessman who just walked into the restaurant.) For Teppa, plants have provided a source of happiness for as long as she can remember. She describes a childhood in Cordoba, Argentina, where she would look out the window of her classroom and long to be with the trees. Her adult life took her to Italy and then back to Miami. She did stints at MTV and as a stylist. Ultimately it was the trees that won her. And so, after doing the orchid arrangements at home in her bikini, Plant the Future was born, a small shop in Wynwood that was turning out five terrariums a day. Until the day designer Liubasha Rose walked in.
“Liubasha placed an order for 436 terrariums. I will never forget that number because it was so massive to me,” says Teppa. “She wanted one 8-inch terrarium for each of the 436 rooms in a hotel she was doing on Miami Beach: the 1 Hotel.” Before Teppa knew it, she was standing in a hotel that lived and breathed biomimicry—from the indoor tropical gardens to the moss mural at the entrance, all designed by Plant the Future. Next week Teppa begins design plans for the 1 Hotel in West Hollywood and nine more projects with Starwood. “We share a DNA,” she says of the hospitality group.
But Teppa does not work for the developers. Or for herself. “I have the best boss,” she says. “Everything I do is with her code, with her energy: Mother Nature.”