By Marianna Levine
Frederico Azevedo, award-winning designer and owner of Unlimited Earth Care in Bridgehampton, may live and design in the Hamptons, but his aesthetic has been deeply influenced by his native Brazil and in particular the modern gardens of his countryman Roberto Burle Marx (perhaps best known for his landscaping of the iconic modern city of Brasília). And it is precisely his international, artistic perception of landscape design that makes his business so different from others in the area.
“I’m very into the modern style. I was born in the 60s when Brasilia was being built and in the 70s when Brazilian modern architecture and design became more and more important, and it was everywhere; so I grew up with all this excitement and energy,” Azevedo explains, while also noting he comes from a part of Brazil near Argentina that has four seasons like the Hamptons. Azevedo adds this because he realizes most people seem to associate Brazil with its northern, more tropical climate, and therefore assume that it is this horticulture he had been working with previously.
It is an interesting coincidence that Azevedo’s artistic mentor, Burle Marx, had a MOMA retrospective in 1991 just as Azevedo arrived in New York and started his career in the United States. Azevedo would call this “synchronicity,” the meaningful relation of seemingly separate events in accordance with Carl Jung’s theory. This is a word and theory Azevedo likes to use repeatedly to describe his eventual and successful career in the Hamptons.
“It was in the Hamptons that I found the clientele that really pushed me to be updated. They pushed me forward into what is especially new. The people here are very well traveled and informed and they totally understand my work, and my work in the end is all about synchronizing the environment with the client and the architecture. I like to bring my clients outdoors and make them part of the team. I want to share my passion for landscapes with them,” he says.
Although Azevedo travels throughout the world drawing inspiration from museums and gardens internationally, in the end he comes back to the landscape and the organic nature of the garden, noting that older, European gardens have always been sustainable and organic, because there never used to be any chemicals around to use. He makes a point of designing each of his modern landscapes with this old world sensibility, noting he has always been organic, even before it became trendy.
In fact Azevedo sees art and nature as inextricably intertwined, stating “Usually my clients have a big interest in art. Art and nature are not separate for me. In fact when you like nature, when you look and pay attention to what you see outside, you have the sensibility to like and admire art.”
One can experience Azevedo’s design sensibility immediately upon entering his gardening shop and office located on the Bridge-Sag Turnpike right between Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton. He has on display and to buy a selective collection of garden sculptures, planters, and gardening books from around the world in a beautifully decorated gallery space. His office, in a loft above the gallery, is filled with mid-century modern furniture, and a dramatic red glass chandelier.
With all Azevedo’s talk of art and international travel it is easy to come to the conclusion that he only works on big projects and with jet-setting Manhattanites. However, that is not the case. He tells a story of how a client who lived on the Shinnecock Indian reservation had seen his work at a garden design show, and decided to find his office in order to ask him if he would design a special garden for her daughter’s wedding (the wedding was being held in her small backyard). He explains small projects such as this one are just as captivating for him because he appreciates people’s love of beauty.
“Once while I was at Long House Reserve, a lady came up to me with her two grown daughters, and told me that the garden I designed for her family in 1992 inspired one of her daughters to go to art school. I find this so beautiful, to know that I can inspire people to do something, to make a connection with them through my work. That’s when you know you are doing something right.”