East Of Eden With Frederico Azevedo Of Unlimited Earth Care
If the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, your neighbor must have hired Brazilian-born landscape architect Frederico Azevedo. But fear not: He can make your gardening dreams come true, too. The creative force behind Unlimited Earth Care takes an artful approach to outdoor chic, and has the contemporary collection to back it up. BY DENA SILVER
How did a Brazilian end up running a landscaping business in the Hamptons?
I was doing the same thing in Brazil and then had a job opportunity in New York. After I arrived, another job in the Hamptons opened up, and so I came here. After that, the projects kept coming. I never had time to leave!
You’ve got lots of competition out here. What’s special about Unlimited Earth Care?
We’re a business that’s devoted to nature and to creating beauty in a sustainable way. I choose specimens that are native to the area or have proven themselves able to adapt over long periods. Native plants need less water because they’re used to the soil.
Which native plants do you use the most?
There are shrubs, like clethra, viburnums, bayberry, and bearberry, and flowers, like lupin and hollyhock. We also have trees: dogwood, evergreens, cedar trees, and black pines.
What’s the most overused landscaping technique in the Hamptons?
Hedges and trees for screening are obviously a very Hamptons-y thing, like the iconic hedges on Dune Road. I have my own take on hedges. Usually, they’re just one solid wall of evergreen or privet, but I like to mix it up. By diversifying the species, you create more depth and the illusion that the property goes on beyond the plants.
What kinds of budget do you and your clients work with?
It ranges from $7,000 to $200,000, and everything in between. The average is typically around $30,000.
Do you have a favorite color scheme? Aside from green, obviously.
I love color, so it’s very important to mix in a lot of variation. In my professional life, I don’t have a color preference, but my personal favorite is lime green. When I was decorating my house, I made sure to put a touch of lime green in each room.
There are quite a few chic Brazilians in the Hamptons. Is there a place out East that reminds you of home?
I can always find a touch of Brazil at Sunset Beach. They like to play Brazilian music, and I love how it opens out right onto the beach and everyone’s wearing skimpy bikinis. During the summer I’m there at least twice a week.
Your home is quite cozy. Tell us about it!
We call it Casa Meu and built it in 1996. I wanted it to be just a simple house so I built it in the traditional colonial style. I love Americana, and I wanted my home to reflect that.
The interiors are fabulous.
I did the whole thing myself, yes. I wanted to use as many recycled materials as possible, like the lamp made from recycled iron and the table by Tom Fleming that’s created with driftwood from Montauk. The dining table is made of American Shaker wood planks with legs from an old veranda. All the mirrors are salvaged frames from old doors or
windows, and the chairs in the kitchen are made from plastic Coca-Cola bottles.
You’ve got quite the art collection as well. Is there a theme?
When it comes to art, I like to collect pieces from Paul Robinson, Mr. Brainwash, and a few others, but I collect wherever I go. For example, we were on our way to Harrods in London and we saw an art gallery filled with dEmo’s pieces. It happened to be the opening of his gallery, and so I bought a piece. Remember him? He was the one that put up the sculpture of David dressed in a Missoni suit in the Meatpacking District. We became friends and he’s even been out here to visit.
That’s a great Steven Klein photo. Are you guys pals?
We are. He also gave me a magazine cover for my birthday a while back that I had framed. Livia, my daughter, used to ride horses at Rose Hill Farm, and his house is right across the street. He used to hang out at the farm, which is how I met him.
What about your yard?
I use my home to experiment with techniques and different kinds of plants. We have a lot of deer, so it’s a great testing ground. I didn’t want to fence anything in; I wanted to keep everything open, and it’s useful to see which flowers and plants are deer-resistant. I made the grounds very structural with flowers and lawn ornaments, and I’m constantly adding and improving.
Where do you hang out off-season?
I have homes in South Beach, Brazil, and Manhattan. I like to move around.
Do you design anything else, aside from landscapes?
I have a line of pots in all different heights, up to 7 feet tall. They’re made of fiberglass and they’re lightweight, but they’re engineered to be stable so that they won’t fly away. The colors are all custom, so clients can choose what’s right for their environment. It was a side project at first, but they’ve gotten very popular. Now, when I visit hotels and other public places, I’m sometimes surprised to see that they use them as décor, like at the SLS Hotel in Miami. I also design a line of floating spheres made out of stainless steel to put in pools, and a line of torches that float in water. Right now, I’m in the middle of developing a design for a modular pool house.
What is that?
It’s like a cabana, but made in modular pieces, with a steel frame and flat slats of wood. The entire thing can be assembled by hand, as it’s only 8 feet by 8 feet. At the end of the year, you can take the whole thing apart and pack it away in storage.
How do you still have time to garden?
I make time. I’m completely obsessed.