We had the good fortune of connecting with Christopher Cuesta and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christopher, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Beautiful spaces for people to interact with and enjoy. I felt like the word “landscape” has so many meanings and in the South Florida context, it has been perceived as a 2d surface used to solely decorate a structure/home. I knew people wanted more. I knew that “landscape” should be an active and interactive space, used for ecological benefit, social family values, and a fresh new aesthetic to push the boundaries of this art form.
I understood the need for well-thought-out spaces, which lead me to start Studio Cuesta in 2020. Creating a landscape, garden, greenspace, or whatever other words are used to define it, is a beautiful process and one that I share with my clients on every project I do. I realized the market for “landscape” in the form of lifestyle was needed and formed my business around the core idea of bringing people and “landscape” together.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We are a landscape architectural design + build firm specializing in South Florida habitat design in both residential and commercial applications. We like to think about “landscapes” as an extension of the historical native landscape by interpreting them in a contemporary way. Our design intent aims to ecologically activate spaces and enorage users to imerese themselves in the natural world by creating lifestyles through functional spaces.
Studio Cuesta has been in the making for over ten years. I have been growing food all my life and was my first love. I became business oriented in 2011 when I started Edible Miami, where I installed vegetable gardens and fruitscapes for residential properties around Miami. I was also working in the nursery industry in tandem with owing my own company where I learned the core principles of the nursery + horticulture industry. Between 2011-2015 I started marketing my services in farmers markets where I sold fruit trees and started to gain clientele through referrals. At that time “edible landscapes” where beginning to become popular and had started to shift the paradigm of what landscapes could be in Miami.
Theory and philosophy around “landscape” had always been circulating an evolving in my mind. I knew there was something else, or a new frontier that needed to be explored. In 2014 I went to pursue my masters degree in Landscape Architecture + Urban design from Florida International University. I paid my way through college installing landscapes and which was a formidable experience I will never forget. College allowed me to endlessly theorize about landscapes but more importantly train myself in the discipline of becoming an architect. I learned scale, proportions and how to develop theory into a tangible project. After graduating I work at Christopher Cawley Landscape Architecture and learned so much from him and consider him to be a mentor. “I mean we’re building gardens” he always used to say. I learned not to take myself so seriously…
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, if it were winter, I would take them to explore South Florida’s nature. P.S I like going year round but it isn’t for everyone. We would explore Everglades National Park and camp for a couple of days. I would take them to the classic Long Pine Key trail to experience some of the last historic pine rocklands and look for nature as 80’+ pine trees sway in the wind. Since we are already south I would guide them to some of my favorite nurseries and pay a visit to the Everglades outpost center where they have a rescued Florida panther!
At night we can check out some of my favorite bars, Lost Boy and The Sylvester. The next day we wake up and have brunch at Berry’s in coconut grove. I mean these are bangers!
Of course, since I can’t stop with landscapes we would need to visit Fairchild Tropical Gardens, do some exploring, and try not to talk about plants + design so much.
If they are feeling really adventurous we take my truck deep into Big Cypress and we do a wetwalk: hiking in water…
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A lot of my upbringing and inspiration comes from my Grandfather, Antonio Cuesta. All my life we have spent a lot of time together in Granda, Spain where I began to understand “landscapes” as family. We enjoyed and still enjoy, to this day working the land at our family olive tree farm.
Our morning ritual since I can remember was waking up before sunrise, driving to our family farm where we then worked on planting and harvesting produce to later share with loves ones. What stood out to me was the process of inhabiting the land as family members lounged in the farmhouse while exchanging stories as we enjoyed some plums on our breaks.
My grandfather used the land to provide sustenance, exercise, and subconsciously teach lessons. I always knew “landscapes” can be so much more, thanks to him