InteriorsStudio Tour

Studio Tour: Gorgeous and Green

by Rebekah Carey

Pilar Zuniga of Oakland, CA’s Gorgeous and Green is a true testament to not only following your dreams, but also giving yourself permission to let your dreams evolve. Eight years ago while working in the health education sector for a non-profit company, Pilar began to see that there was a need for resources in wedding design and event planning that were both sustainable and earth-friendly. What began as a mere vision quickly developed into selling sustainable floral designs and offering design services out of her garage.

Shortly thereafter, Pilar was able to leave her day job and open a retail space where she offered locally made and sustainable goods (plants, flowers, and jewelry) that supported 30 to 40 other eco-friendly businesses and makers. After six-and-a-half years of retail, Pilar was ready for another transformation. She left her retail space to transition Gorgeous and Green into the design studio it is now, offering floral design services for businesses and events, floral decor and gifts that are available by delivery via their site (and delivered locally by bike!).

In addition to Gorgeous and Green being sustainable itself, the move to the new studio location was in part to be more supportive to Pilar’s own work life. When Pilar heard that a fellow business woman she had provided floral designs for in the past had opened workshare studios (just eight blocks from her home), she knew it would be a great opportunity to make a connection with fellow creatives and the local community.

Pilar describes her studio space’s beginnings as “basically a large corrugated metal shed.” She has since created a beautiful and heartfelt space that highlights the space’s brick wall and concrete floors, and she added light through the reclaimed french doors so that her floral creations have the light they need to be captured in all their glory. Her first project in the new space was the floors — she spent roughly a week removing old oil marks, staining the concrete, and adding a clear coat. Pieces from her previous retail space and added natural elements play off the existing features, like the reclaimed wood shelves and new cubbies. The result is a space where Pilar can create pieces both big and small, spread out as much as she needs, do the less glamorous details (emails), and also have an inviting space for clients and events. And after seeing her gorgeous flower arrangements in front of that blue wall, you may want to want to splash some blue paint on your own walls! –Rebekah

Photography by Sorella Muse


Workshare Studios: Mignonne Atelier
Reclaimed wood work bench, side table, shelves: Ransom Design
Vintage Pedestal Bathtub, other pieces: Urban Ore
Reclaimed chandeliers: Restore, San Leandro
Chairs: World Market
Area rug: Target
Blue Wall: “The Real Teal” by Behr (no VOC)

Gorgeous And Green's Reclaimed And Upcycled Studio Tour On Design* Sponge
"The space was super raw when I saw it," Pilar admits, "but we [Johnelle, of Mignonne Decor, the landlord] both knew it could be transformed into something dreamy and beautiful and, most of all -- supportive of the work I love to do. I ended up not only getting more connected to [the owner], but also the other studio tenants."
"That's me, smiling in the studio." With the gorgeous light that streams in the french doors, her happy pets by her side, and her beautiful floral designs, it's hard to imagine Pilar not smiling in the lovely space she created.
Gorgeous And Green Is The Business Name And Ethos Of This Company on Design* Sponge's Studio Tour
"A lot of the items in the studio are reclaimed or recycled. I mean, my desk is made from a vintage cast iron pedestal bath tub, and all my shelving is made from reused and refurbished wood," Pilar explains. "The chandeliers are reclaimed and painted in one of my marketing colors. I tend to buy a lot of vintage items anyway, but I tried my best to reuse as much as I could. It's another way I try to stay green since it's not only in the name, but because it's a certified Green Business."
Perfect Light And Details in Gorgeous And Green's Studio Tour On Design* Sponge
"This is one of two vintage vanity mirrors that I turned into hanging mirrors. I always thought they were weird acting as trays to hold perfumes and such. I like them this way."
Painted Chandeliers Brighten The Industrial Studio Of Gorgeous And Green On Design* Sponge
Pilar shares some of her design inspirations, "Those chartreuse chandeliers are the star of the studio, they brighten up my day in so many ways."
Certified Green Business, Gorgeous And Green, Shares Their Commitment To Sustainability In Their Design* Sponge Studio Tour
"That's our sustainable breakdown," Pilar explains. "I had it up in the retail store so people could see what we are about. Since I'm still very green and sustainable, it all still applies."
Oakland's Gorgeous And Green, A Sustainable Floral Studio, Tour On Design* Sponge
"Hard at work with flowers. Florists actually have very muscular arms, forearms and hands," Pilar shares. "All that clipping and bucket carrying."
Gorgeous and Green Stunning Floral Arrangement Against Teal On Her Design* Sponge Studio Tour
"Fuchsia and teal go together like PB and J," Pilar says. "This brass pedestal arrangement of local greens, branches and even some organic blooms just seems to hit the spot against that wall."
All Natural Stress Relief In The Form Of Fur-Babies, Gorgeous And Green's Studio Tour On Design* Sponge
"I am so thankful for the beautiful light I get in my studio space and the fact that I can bring my dogs to hang out with me most days," Pilar shares. "They are big sunbathers, so they appreciate the sunny patio. I am also very thankful for the small community we are building at these studios and the fact that I have been so welcomed by my fellow artists in residence. It's literally a perfect fit for where G and G is right now." Pilar adds, "I love bringing my dogs into the studio, they totally calm my nerves and keep me from taking things too seriously."
Vintage Filing Cabinet For Modern Organization In Gorgeous And Green's Studio Tour On Design* Sponge
"I love my giant ornamental fig tree, it seems to soften the aging and sharp texture of the big vintage filing cabinet."
Vintage Filing Cabinet For Receipt Hard Copies From Gorgeous And Green's Design* Sponge Studio Tour
"I had a small collection of vintage typewriters, this one's the last of the group. It sure looks a lot cooler than the modern computer."
Bright Studio Details In The Gorgeous And Green Oakland Studio On Design* Sponge
Community is incredibly important to Pilar and she's been lucky enough to already have one developing from the other business owners in the neighboring studio spaces. "I have made a very supportive and lovely friendship with a fellow artist, Amy, from Red Raven. We both bring our dogs, we have conversations about being women business owners and we lend a helping hand when the other needs it (she painted my teal wall for me)," Pilar explains. "This large vintage canister is sort of an unusual find, the top still pops off and you can also use it as a seat. Currently I use it to prop my door open on a windy day."
Floral Designer Tool Storage From Gorgeous And Green's Design* Sponge Studio Tour
"I have quite a collection of floral vessels, so building a hardy shelf to hold them all was key."
Gorgeous And Green Studio Tour On Design* Sponge
"I would say 95% of the time working the flowers into design feels easy, almost second nature. Sometimes, it's like pulling teeth."
Beautiful Flowers Awaiting Their Purpose From Gorgeous And Green's Design* Sponge Studio Tour
A myriad of flowers and greens sitting pretty before Pilar transforms them into beautiful arrangements.
Tools Of The Trade In The Gorgeous And Green Oakland Floral Studio On Design* Sponge
Somehow even the messes in the Gorgeous and Green studio, like a pile of tools on a workbench, are beautiful and tell a story of something stunning yet to come.
Close-Up Of The Aptly Named Gorgeous And Green Arrangement On Design* Sponge
Pilar breaks down this arrangement, "Let's get up close: this arrangement was made with maple, oak, zinnia, dahlia, hyacinth bean, purple basil, cosmos, amaranth, berries."

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