For a landscape architect, Brook Klausing does not like to talk about plants. The 39-year-old Kentucky-bred Brooklynite, who has spent the past 10 years leaving his green thumbprint on the rooftops and backyards of fashion designers, celebrities and art collectors across the state, would rather talk about mood. “Very few clients come to me saying, ‘I love peonies.’” Instead, the first thing he considers when taking on a project is “How do you want to feel? Everything depends on what the clients think they want to share.” Something of a psychoanalyst, Klausing’s uncanny ability to translate a conversation about feeling into dynamic horticultural composition—for example weaving wisteria with Virginia creeper onto the trellis of a high rise terrace in response to a designer’s homesickness for the English countryside—is what first attracted his creative client roster. “I get a lot of clients who would say ‘They don’t get it, they don’t understand me,’ of the other landscape architects they met with,” he says laughing.
It doesn’t hurt that Klausing flexes the same command for planting and building as someone twice his age—after all, he’s clocked in as many professional hours. Klausing started mowing lawns before some children learn how to ride a bike, and launched his first landscaping firm (which is owned and run by his brother) by the time he got his driver’s license. Anything he couldn’t pick up in the field he learned at home, where his father, who worked for the Lexington Parks Department, kept a collection of rare plants in place of grass.
Now Klausing tops the list of household names in the landscape industry. As proof, the walls of the Brook Landscape offices in Brooklyn are lined with clipboards of current and forthcoming projects, including a sprawling 17-acre estate in Garrison with views of the Hudson, for which he’s building a firehouse and entranceway and blending the surrounding natural landscape with idyllic low maintenance “moments” for the property’s pond, fountain and 19th-century house.
And for those who can’t get on his projects list, you can have a piece of his relaxed aesthetic via Natural Workshop, his line of planters, tables and benches that will be available online later this year. Though, a preview will come by way of this May’s Collective Design Fair, where Klausing is creating the entranceway from timber salvaged from the Rockaway Boardwalk after Hurricane Sandy.
“I love Klausing’s subtle yet engaging approach to landscape design,” says Collective Design founder and creative director Steven Learner. “His studio lets the local ecology speak for itself by embracing its inherent sculptural elements.”
Roughly hewn granite planters will grow English ivy, flowering vines and hellebore, lit by fixtures made from the driftwood Klausing collects from a lake near his hometown in Kentucky. “It’s my version of hunting,” he says.