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Meet the Maker: Lily Kwong

In the heart of New York’s SoHo, you will find a little green oasis – Crosby Street Hotel’s Meadow Suite and the Sculpture Garden. It is so important to create green spaces wherever possible, especially in a metropolis like New York.

We recently redesigned the Meadow Suite, which is located on the hotel’s second floor. Being a keen gardener, I had some very strong ideas about how the meadow should look, but we felt we needed the expertise of a New York based landscaper to put a beautiful spin on it. This is where Lily Kwong came in. Lily runs a landscaping practice and her mission is to reconnect people to nature. This ethos tied in so beautifully with my initial desire to create green in New York City.

Whilst the original meadow design was beautiful, it tended to run a bit wild so we gave Lily a brief to create an English country meadow behind a plotted out grass area, which would allow our guests to use the space more freely, perhaps enjoying a morning coffee out on the terrace or a sprawling picnic out on the grass!

Lily executed this perfectly, incorporating an array of plants and grasses that would thrive in the New York climate whilst evoking the charming sense of English garden.

Downstairs, our secret Sculpture Garden cascaded with abundant foliage, complete with tall magnolia trees providing scale and serenity. However, we wanted Lily to bring in some more indigenous grasses and plants. Her edits and changes were welcome and have improved this romantic courtyard wonderfully.

Beyond her work for us at Crosby Street Hotel, Lily’s thriving business is a hub of creativity. Her work aims to connect people within city garden-scapes whilst putting light on important world issues through her creativity. Back in 2018 Kwong partnered with Visionaire to launch ‘Summer in Winter’, a 1,000-square-foot botanical garden that doubles as a learning experience, located in downtown Manhattan’s Cadillac House.

The landscape Kwong made comprises of diverse plant life spanning 37 countries across Earth’s seven continents, including ferns from Australia, flowering plants from the tropical Americas, rainforest trees considered sacred by Buddhists, succulents native to Southern Africa, and cycads known as living fossils, – this paradise explored on the fragility of plant life whilst creating a respite from the increasingly harsher and more intense New York winters.

‘Summer in Winter’, like the spaces we create, creates a sensory experience, encouraging people to step outside and experience nature, coupled with a beautiful aesthetic. Yet Lily took this a step further, tackling head on the importance of the ever-imposing reality of climate change. A creative endeavour we here in the Kit Kemp studio support whole heartedly. We can’t wait to see what Lily does next!

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