Michael Giannelli, owner of East Hampton Gardens, and Stacey go way back! When thinking of who to help us style our hydrangea printed tabletop, it was a no-brainer. His love for gardening, entertaining and his “informally formal” approach to design pairs perfectly with this freshly bloomed print for summer. Ready our full Q&A and check out his gorgeous tablescape below!
1. Where did you grow up? I grew up in Smithtown, Long Island. I then moved into NYC in ’94 and started my career at Gapkids designing for the boys line.
2. What inspires you? I love being outdoor in the garden and at the beach. I can clear my head of all the cobwebs and breath deep and relax. It helps me with the creative process. I love Paris, and when we were at Gap we would be traveling to Europe 2 to 3 times a year and really got spoiled. Being in Europe, you really were able to get inspired by the different cultures and shopping. That’s where I fell in love with all the formal gardens and would sneak off to visit one or two while on a trip. It helped me develop my style of formally informal and drove my passion for gardening.
3. You and Stacey have known each other professionally for many years - can you tell us a bit about the days when you used to work together? I don’t know how much Stacey wants me to share!! She was/is hysterical and our trips to our Hong Kong office were so much fun and a ton of work. I remember I had a boss who was in love with Stacey because she was his best audience and adorable. He would plop down with a pack of cigarettes and would just joke and tell stories that would crack us up all the while filling the room with smoke. Back in the day you could smoke in the office... it was crazy. Stacey would get so mad and kick him out after a while and we’d all be sick.
4. Why did you decide to leave the retail/merchandising world in NYC for gardening design in the Hamptons? I had finished my career at Victorias Secret as the head of design and literally was burnt out on bras and panties. No 50-year-old man should be doing lingerie design, and Manhattan was different and changing everyday and I was too. I realized that I wanted to follow my passion as my partner did. Greg decided in 2009 - after “the crash”- to leave Gap and go to school for interiors. He was really changing the direction of his life and I followed in his courageous footsteps. Fashion, color and print really led to a seamless transition. I just paint the garden with plants and color now vs fashion.
5. What has been the most rewarding experience of making this transition? The biggest challenge? And most surprising? The most rewarding part of owning your own business is you are doing everything you want without a meeting! Without 100 people weighing in. No one is there to change anything or challenge your decisions every step of the way. This is also the biggest challenge! You are now responsible for a team of people, no expense account, health insurance is a challenge and there isn’t any stock options or bonuses! You are literally running design, marketing, PR, human resources, I.T., buying, merchandising and display. It all falls on your shoulders. It’s amazing how much my years in fashion has prepared me for running my own brand. I’m grateful for everything that I learned.
6. Please tell us about your shop, East Hampton Gardens, and what should customers expect when visiting? My shop is a culmination of everything I love. Print, color, home accessories, table top collections, Hotel Silver, entertaining and gardening, flowers and tons of plants! Our customers are always in for a surprise when they arrive. They can expect to find the perfect hostess gift for a dinner party or are surprised by our ever changing assortment. I love finding a small artist and doing a pop-up for them. Or partnering with other brands like Pink Chicken to share our love for beautiful design which delight our customers.
7. What was your vision for relaunching this floral shop? I’ve always loved floral design, and trained with Christian Tortu from Paris and Takishimaya fame. It was my creative outlet and would take me away from the day to day in the fashion world. I could create something for myself. After opening East Hampton Gardens, the shop and garden design took off leaving little time for flowers. Now, the floral business is just another service we provide for our clients. We are full service - I design their gardens, help with entertaining needs, plan their parties, do the flowers and style the tables from the shop. It couldn’t be more fabulous as I’ve become really close with some of my clients and they truly appreciate everything we can provide for them.
8. What is your favorite flower to design and/or decorate with? The season always kicks off with peonies, lilacs and garden roses. Then, around July 4th, we focus on blue hydrangea - which is serendipitous that I get to style this beautiful hydrangea print.
9. Tell us about your tablescape design with PC printed tablecloth and napkins? My two favorite things collide in this beautiful table. Hydrangea and bamboo. The dishes are melamine so the kids can drop them and they won’t shatter all over the place. Easy clean up, dishwasher safe and chic. Also, the green woven matts are a synthetic fabric which is very carefree. Zero worry. The “glassware” is acrylic and comes in a rainbow of colors. I used potted hydrangea that last much longer than the cut variety and herbs to style this summer table. Mint, thyme, rosemary all look stunning in simple pots and then can be transferred to the garden or displayed on a windowsill. I love to plant enough for each person to take home with them as a little reminder of our friendship.
10. Did you ever expect PC to launch tabletop designs? This is a natural and exciting venture. Stacey has always been a genius with print and style. Always a relaxed vibe, but cool and chic. Starting out with baby/and kids, then moving into Mommy and Me looks, and now the entire family is adorable in all the fabulousness that is Pink Chicken. I live in the West Village and the Bleecker Street store is the most adorable jewel box in the neighborhood, positioned right across from the Bank Street playground! Perfect location!! Now Pink Chicken is moving into a lifestyle brand, offering the cult following everything they need for a relaxed, East/West coast vibe.
11. Tell us something about Stacey that we don’t know?! Stacey always knew how to push every one of my buttons, and on those trips to Asia, I remember reorganizing her design books as retaliation to something she did to me! She was the annoying little sister that you fall in love with after you realize that she’s really a special person. Her success is just a reflection of her creativity, her personality, being an amazing mom and sharing her talents with her clients. I am always blown away when her business takes the next step. When Madison Ave opened, I thought, maybe I should go work with Stacey!?
12. Please tell us anything else you would like us to know about EHG? We are celebrating 6 years this year and will have a few different collaborations going on this summer. My friend Joanna Buchanan has a home furnishing line that will be doing a pop up on 6/25, and Hunt Slonem, the artist known for his Bunny portraits, will be in residence with the “HOP UP SHOP” for three months. The shop will be very reminiscent of Bergdorfs, 7th floor. The shop will feature art, home furnishings and vintage creations designed by the artist. Follow us on instagram @EastHamptonGardens for all the details!!