Tealeaves Folio



Garden of Secrets: Cooper Hewitt Nature Triennial

Throughout history, people have sought connections with nature. In particular, designers have observed nature, investigated its materials, and abstracted its forms and qualities.
The Garden of Secrets, a collaborative project between TEALEAVES and UBC Botanical Garden, dives into the realm of plant-inspired biomimicry and biophilic design with the goal of celebrating nature beyond its edible, visual and medicinal properties.


The Event

On 18th May 2019, as part of NYCxDesign 2019, TEALEAVES participated in the launch of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum‘s, Nature Triennial Exhibition! The exhibition, co-organized with Cube design museum in the Netherlands, featured more than 60 groundbreaking works from designers across all disciplines who are collaborating with scientists, engineers, farmers, environmentalists, and nature itself to design a more harmonious and regenerative future.

The tour was followed by the world premiere of TEALEAVES’ documentary The Garden of Secrets, and an intimate design conversation with experts from with UBC Botanical Garden and New York Botanical Garden. In conversation, participants learned how biomimicry, biophilia, and designs inspired by the natural world contribute to humanity.

To germinate on the experience for yourself, discover The Garden of Secrets, design conversation moderated by Lana Sutherland, CEO & Co-Founder of TEALEAVES.



The Panelists


Sam Van Aken

Associate Professor at Syracuse University and designer of the Tree of 40 Fruit

Sam Van Aken is a contemporary artist who works beyond traditional modes of art making, crossing artistic genres and disciplines to develop new perspectives on such themes as communication, botany, agriculture, climatology, and the ever-increasing impact of technology.


Patrick Lewis

Director, University of British Columbia Botanical Garden

As Director of the UBC Botanical Garden, including the Nitobe Memorial Garden, Patrick Lewis is responsible for the leadership and strategic direction of the Garden. This includes the development, oversight, organization and financial management of the unit, and the management of professional and support staff, including curatorial, horticultural, and administrative, and contact staff


Barbara A. Ambrose, Ph.D

Director of Laboratory Research, Editor, Botanical Review, The New York Botanical Garden

Barbara A. Ambrose Ph.D investigates patterns and processes of plant diversity. She is interested in understanding the vast amount of plant diversity, the DNA that encodes plant morphology, and how changes in DNA can explain the diversity that we see. She uses classic botanical techniques, molecular biology, genome sequencing, and bioinformatics to better understand plant evolution and development. Barbara earned a Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of California at San Diego and a B.Sc. in Biology at the University of the Virgin Islands. She was awarded a National Science Foundation International postdoctoral fellowship to study the evolution and development of Lacandonia schismatica, the only known plant with inverted reproductive whorls. This research combined field research in Chiapas, Mexico with molecular genetics. Her work has appeared in peer reviewed journals and her striking images of plants have appeared in popular science magazines and on the covers of science publications.


Projects from the exhibition: Nature – Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial with Cube Design Museum


TetraPOT 2.0 – The Evolution of Greener Sea Defense, 2015-2018 scale prototypes, rendering


A World of Sand, 2010-ongoing colored glass installation, collector’s box, selection of sand samples


Nacadia Therapy Forest Garden, 2011-ongoing ipad video, wall video, site plan, photograph




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