Tulipina, the design studio that has turned flowers into luxury accessories

They turned a passion into a big business. Kiana And Nathan Underwood they created the brand Tulipinaexamination of floral design which has achieved global fame with business, events around the world and offices in New York and Como. One of their favorite bases remains Italy, where they have decided to live for at least one period of the year.

How did all this come about? “Kiana and I met during our final year at the University of Santa Barbara, California on an Italian course. Tulipina is another career for Kiana. He created it after our youngest son started school. I have always helped with the company, but I quit my technology job in 2017 to take Tulipina full time because the business got bigger and bigger, ”says Nathan. “From the beginning, I took care of everything related to the actual management of the business, primarily finance and logistics operations, while Kiana was engaged in everything from a creative point of view.”

But he, too, eventually developed, inspired by her, an artistic side: “I have had a successful career in technology, primarily Internet-related businesses, for almost two decades. Technology will always be something I am passionate about. And that’s how my interest in photography developed. On the technical side, I am passionate about how to create specific looks with a combination of camera and lens. Photography is just a hobby, and above all something I do in connection with Tulipina ”.

In fact, Nathan makes sure to create all the images that pertain to the company. The secret behind their success for him? “At one point, most companies may only be local or regional, with very few capable of becoming global, such as McDonald’s. Thanks to their strong focus on image, social media has enabled Tulipina to cross borders. “and allow Kiana’s work to be seen and appreciated all over the world. This has actually allowed the company to grow at ways and speeds that would not have been possible 20 years ago.”

We spoke to Kiana in New York and she told us how her passion for flowers has made her reach a global clientele.

When did you realize that you loved flowers so much?
I grew up in Iran surrounded by flowers, which are an important part of Persian culture. But I did not really develop my love of flowers until I was an adult. I never thought of myself as a creative person, and it was only when I started creating art with flowers that I realized that kind of gifts lived inside me.

How did you decide to turn this into a business?
I went to university with the intention of becoming a lawyer. Then I took a master’s degree in international relations, which led me to work in one thinktank curator at Stanford University. Shortly before the birth of my first child, I stopped working and for several years and I was a housewife. Although I loved being a mom, I needed something more in my life. I was interested in flowers and gardening and made small home arrangements. It was my husband Nathan who suggested that I start with flower design as a business. At first I thought it was a crazy proposal, but we built a website and photographed my compositions for social media. It was 2011. Little by little, Tulipina began to grow. Today, Tulipina has become one of the best floral design companies in the world, which still surprises me every day.

What makes Tulipina unique?

I try to think of every composition or creation as a work of art. When someone comes to us for their wedding, they know they will receive something that no one else has seen: tailored, extraordinary, personal.

He also loves to play with colors. What do they mean to you?
In nature, we see so many color variations and color shades. When you take a closer look at a flower, you will find subtle shades and unexpected combinations. Working with colors allows you to create something unique, and even if you create ten centerpieces with the same flowers, each will have their own variation and will be a unique work of art. Of course, it’s even possible with whites and neutrals, but it’s less fun for me.

Which flowers do you prefer to work with?
I like them all, but among my favorites are buttercups and poppies. The variety of both is amazing and the movement of their stems allows me to create artistic arrangements in old-fashioned style.

His compositions are also based on the seasons. What is your favorite?
Autumn: I love the changing colors and the incredible variety of flowers, berries and fruits just before everything goes to sleep for the winter.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Music is a great inspiration and I almost always listen to classical music while creating. Some of my favorite artists are Bach, Chopin and Rachmaninov. I think the sensations and emotions that music gives me are reflected in my floral designs.

He lives between Como and New York. Why? Is it business or personal?
I spend about seven months a year in the US and about five months in Italy. The environments and cultures are very different. In upstate New York, I live on nine acres of land, with lots of nature and open space around me. In Como we are in a more urban environment, but with the magnificent beauty of the lake. The choice of Como was in principle due to work. My favorite Italian city is Florence, but I have come to love and appreciate the north.

Do you like living in Italy?
I have loved Italy since the late teens. I spent a university semester in Siena, then a year in Bologna for the master. I feel that Italy is much more in line with my Persian culture than the United States. Even after over thirty years in America, I feel at home in Italy. From a business standpoint, Italy may be a little harder for a foreigner to ‘navigate’, but only because I’m more familiar with all of America’s rules. From a personal point of view, the way people behave and interact in Italy is very similar to Iran, so it is easy to develop relationships and deal with people.

What is the main activity of your company?
Weddings account for about 95% of our income. About 70% of the weddings we work for are celebrated in Europe. I completed a magic workshop in Venice in March. It was something I have wanted to do for a long time.

what are your plans for the future?
I’m always looking for ways to differentiate myself from the ordinary and keep innovating in the world of floral design. To be honest, I would like to be remembered as one of the best floral designers of the 21st century, as someone who elevated something ordinary to an art form.

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