Teatro Verde: Ahead Of The Curve
Twenty-five years ago, Teatro Verde, a little flower shop in Yorkville, opened its doors. Today, Teatro Verde is the go-to for breathtaking luxury floral arrangements, unique gifts and home décor, with a devoted local and international following. Now, owners Shawn Gibson and Michael Pellegrino are welcoming friends and clients at their new location in Yorkville Village.
Whether you’re looking for a fresh bouquet or need fabulous flowers for a party or are simply looking for a unique gift, take an online, or preferably in-person, trip to Teatro Verde for a journey of colour, textures and exquisite offerings. “My directive is always to keep it as simple and as beautiful as possible, very pure,” says Michael Pellegrino, co-owner of Teatro Verde.
The shop has flourished because Shawn Gibson, also a co-owner, and Pellegrino don’t stand still. Instead, they have carefully curated a shopping experience like no other in the city. How do they keep it fresh, with such luxe feels and signature looks? “You have to be connected with popular culture. Look at the news and see what’s going on in the world, and that will dictate to you what the trends are going to be,” says Gibson. And Teatro Verde has become a constant source of inspiration to the design community and lifestyle media. If you’re ever feeling a little down, just scroll through their Instagram and see if your mood doesn’t pick up because you can’t be unhappy when you’re looking at these posts.
Their creations, defining global style for all kinds of events, are showcased at some of the best hotels and hot spots, like the Four Seasons Hotel and The Hazelton, and at some of the city’s favourite restaurants, like Sotto Sotto. Now that life has opened up once more, they are happy to be doing events again — everything from 500-person weddings to smaller luxury weddings, too, along with flowers for special gifts and corporate events, regular rotations for homes and offices, and bereavement arrangements.
Where does this kind of creative mashup come from? Probably not from where you’d think — and that’s really what makes Teatro Verde so unique. Pellegrino’s family had a grocery store/ nursery in Italy. Then he eventually opened a landscaping business here. As for Gibson, he was a theatre producer, working on such productions as Miss Saigon in different places in the world, like New York, Chicago, and in places as far away as Japan, for instance. When the two men met, they came up with the idea for Teatro Verde, or green/ nature’s theatre, as the name means. “We could go in any direction we wanted, but if we had called it The Plant Shop or something like that, we would have to stick within those realms,” says Gibson. “By saying green theatre in Italian, we could sell soup to nuts.”
“It’s Like A Big Mixing Bowl, We Put In Our Ingredients To Come Up With Our Recipe”
They did exactly that. What started as a flower and garden shop led to a second store, filled with lovely home and décor items. And now that they’ve blended these two stores into their new location, it has become a sort of marketplace inspired by other cultures, like ethnic blending, he says. “It’s like a big mixing bowl we put in our ingredients to come up with our recipe,” says Gibson. It’s a very bohemian approach to merchandising, in fact, and the shop itself is presented as a large garden, using the product itself as “art” on display.
Gibson and Pellegrino love working with each other, with Gibson handling the front end, getting the particulars and dealing with the logistics, and Pellegrino designing the arrangements. “I love that we have no partners, we make all the decisions,” says Gibson. “We respect each other so much: it’s been 25 years and we’re both still standing here.” Although “there are days,” laughs Pellegrino.
What’s on trend now? Well, it’s not so much themes, says Gibson, and not so much neutrals, either. “It seems that people want happy and colourful, and that seems to be the trend, just lots of colour,” he says. He’s good with that, he adds, because they’re taking colour to the next level at the new store.
Gibson and Pellegrino work hard but they like to chill out, too … in the garden, of course. “Michael has this incredible vegetable garden, and he has expanded it — it’s massive,” says Gibson. “Everybody thinks it’s for commercial purposes and it’s for us,” he laughs. And Gibson’s cooking has evolved over the past few years because he’s had more time.
There is a time for everything, says Gibson, like dealing with problems as they come up, for example, but not letting them overwhelm you. And that’s what la dolce vita means to him: “The sweet life is to enjoy life in the moment,” he says.
Interview by Estelle Zentil