About Koby Kirwin
How did you get started as a landscape architect?
While a lifeguard during college at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, I vividly remember watching the families and kids enjoying themselves in the beautifully landscaped pools and resort. I often wondered who could make the same Florida scrub land that I saw just steps outside the resort become the paradises of the South Pacific? It intrigued me enough to take a course in college the following year on landscape architecture taught by one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Landscape Architects. Once introduced to the field, I was hooked. My inspiration from the start has been to bring the resort lifestyle to your home.
Where did you you go to College?
I received my Bachelor of Science in Environmental Horticulture from Florida Southern College located in Lakeland, Florida. After graduation, I received my master’s Degree from The University of Florida.
Where are you from Koby?
I was born and raised in a suburb of Boston. Though I am proud of my ties to that region, the Florida lifestyle seduced me in college and I never went back. I started coming to Naples in the 1990s and was awestruck by Gordon Drive and the Port Royal area. I knew this was a place for me. When it comes down to it, what I do is a want not a need. Residential Landscape Architecture is a deliberate choice to want a visually superior environment. People in South Florida choose to continually make residential landscape architecture a part of their “wants,” that is why you find me here. You will find my work featured throughout South Florida from Captiva Island around to Vero Beach.
What is it like to work with you?
First, I am specialist not a generalist. My portfolio focuses on tropical estates and residential getaways. I am known for resolving the issues that come along with the complicated site and delivering tropical transformations featuring unique Florida plant material.
Secondly, I don’t do a mixed bag of work i.e. streetscapes, entryways, and median roadway design. You will not find my work featured at Taco Bell or Bank Buildings. I am focused on the residential scale; Everything I do is about being the best at residential landscape architecture.
Third, know when you hire Exteriors by Koby Kirwin you get Koby.
What size residential projects do you work on?
It is not so much the size of the home as it is the size of your passion for outdoor living that grabs my attention. Ultimately, there is nothing more gratifying than being employed by someone who can decern the sophistication that I bring to a tropical property. This sophistication is achieved by purposefully limiting the number of projects. My estates have a starting construction budget of $500,000 dollars for the exterior hardscape and a beginning allotment of $200,000 dollars for the landscape.
Tell us something about you?
I am the youngest of three with two older sisters, and now I have three daughters with one more daughter on the way. To say the least my life has been one continuous slumber party. My wife Erin and I live in Naples on a five-acre nursery where I store and grow collected specimen trees. I design in a separate building on my property. It allows me to design only steps away from my home. When creativity hits, my place to design is right next door. I’ve had bosses and business partners and I found it all to be wildly restrictive and counterproductive. Creativity comes with no warning. Inspiration does not have office hours. The best thing I ever did was be my own boss; it relieved me of the internal client so I could focus on the real client, the homeowner. My design switch is never off, and I have tailored my life to be in sync with that notion.
What influences your design? Where do you get your inspiration?
I have always been fascinated with how music synthesizes sounds, and styles from various genres of music. The ability to reposition notes, lyrics and beats into a new song has always captivated me. As a young designer, I embraced the metaphor of sampling as a premise to come to form.
Sampling is a musical notion that deliberately harmonizes different strands and segments of music into the re-fabrication of a new sound. Inspired by Rap + Hip-Hop music, I began sampling and mixing various geometries, textures and spatial organizations. Then I synthesized these elements with place and experiential quality. I found that this process helped me provide order, develop experiential qualities and create a stronger sense of spatial geometry. I attribute my Boston upbringing and exposure to Rap + Hip-Hop music as the single greatest influence on my day to day design process.
Who inspires you as a designer?
Landscape Architect, Dan Kiley
Kiley was deliberate in his use of geometry and aggressive in developing geometric order in design. To me, it was and is what design should be: visually powerful. I just always got his work; It made sense; It looked strong; It made and left an imprint on your mind. Still today I strive for this same visual ideal.
Rapper, Producer, Entrepreneur Jay-Z
He believes that the soul of the music should be heard through the” wax” of the album. This has always spoken to me. I transpose this ideal in my work. I strive to reveal the soul of your home’s exterior, to give it a depth that is unique to your life…. unique to your family… unique to your personal experiences.
Landscape Architect, Tommy Church
His use of unity, function, simplicity and scale was and is genius. He primarily worked on residential sized scaled projects and was known worldwide for his abilities and efforts. I felt empowered in graduate school knowing that someone could be as revered as he was by predominately working at the residential scale.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
To be revered as the best – anything less would simply be a waste of my time.