ISSUE 1  |  Office Space

Shopper’s Diary: Tiny Worlds Under Glass at Twig Terrariums

January 11, 2014 11:00 AM

BY Jeanne Rostaing

I first noticed the Twig Terrarium store on my way to Runner and Stone, the Gowanus restaurant and bakery. The two are neighbors, comprising a tiny pocket of cool on unlovely Third Avenue, which, even though it now boasts Brooklyn’s first Whole Foods Market, is dominated by gigantic storage facilities, old-school pizza shops, and 19th century warehouses. 

Twig stands out because its big plate glass window is full of terrariums, making it a startling, mirage-like vision of green against its harsh surroundings. Later, when I sat down to chat with Twig owners, Michelle Inciarrano and Katy Maslow, I discovered that the shop is an oasis for other reasons as well.

Photographs by Ronda Smith unless otherwise noted.

Above: Photograph via Twig.

The two women, friends for decades, have created a distinctly welcoming environment. Customers are free to browse shelves of pre-made terrariums and kits, present an idea for a personalized glass enclosed garden, or learn to make one themselves. A custom idea can be as specific as a photo you want replicated–complete with tiny people, zombies, tombstones or whatever you like. Or it can be just a description of a vague idea.  Inciarrano and Maslow are experts at coaxing inspiration from their clients.

Above: Photograph by Maximus Comissar via Brooklyn Spaces.

The Twig founders say that next to the presentation of a finished creation, the best part of their business is working with customers. There’s a cushy sofa under the sheltering limbs of a fake tree where customers can lounge. In fact, if a clearing in a fairy tale forest had comfortable seating and indoor plumbing, it would probably resemble the Twig boutique. 

Above: Photograph via Twig.

But there’s nothing make believe about the Twig studio. If you ask me, it’s the perfect place to invest in the ultimate office greenery. Michelle Inciarrano spent a clearly traumatizing period of her life working in a beige cubicle. She regards terrariums as horticulture therapy for the frazzled office worker. For one thing, if you provide your small enclosed garden with a spot that is out of direct sunlight it will delight you for years with only very minimal care. A moss terrarium requires only a light misting every 2 to 4 weeks.  

Above: A shelf peppered with terrariums. Big business is clearly convinced of the benefits of providing workers with plants under glass. Half of Twig’s 2013 customized holiday orders were for corporate gifts and Inciarrano and Maslow have been commissioned by corporations to develop and lead team building terrarium workshops.

Above: Hanging terrariums blend well with natural objects and vintage tools.

Above: For those who prefer plants not under glass, Twig recently added a gorgeous line of kokedamas, string gardens which are created using Japanese bonsai techniques. They come rooted in a ball of soil and are ready to hang. A mandeville kokedama is $280.00 at Twig.

Above: Kokedamas are available in a variety of plants. A large bromeliad kokedama, right, is $290.

As 2014 begins, Twig’s founders are already making new plans for what Maslow calls their “horticultural sculpture”.  They are working with glass blowers to design custom containers with rounded organic shapes drawn from nature. Inciarrano and Maslow showed me two prototypes which they have named “the stomach” and “the worm.” There will also be experimentation with larger containers.

 

There are plans to expand into new territories by participating in the International Gift Show and in more local exhibitions such as the Philadelphia Flower Show where they are multi-prize winners for their innovative terrarium designs.

Is a DIY terrarium on your list of New Year’s resolutions? See Gardening 101: How to Make a Terrarium.

For further reading on terrariums, check out DIY Tabletop Terrariums and Under Glass: Geometry Inspired Terrariums.