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Laurie Rudd

Rebecca Cole

Flower power personified

Author, television host and designer Rebecca Cole is seeing the demand blossom for her work in outdoor living.

With a background in theater, Cole did not start out with a plan to bloom in the world of outdoor designs.

“I got started in designing when, as an unemployed actor, I found I had a knack for taking low-rent areas and creating fantastic outdoor spaces,” Cole said. “I was able to marry the industrial look and materials of the city with natural elements and loved doing it.”

Her love began to receive notice in 1993 when Cole was featured in New York magazine's article titled, Fantastic Outdoor Spaces Designed By Real People.

“Literally, overnight, I became a designer,” Cole said. “I did not have any formal training, just an ability to design what I liked.” Cole's designs, inspired then and now by her urban lifestyle, incorporated unique natural and industrial containers, furniture, textiles and lighting. She realized from the beginning the need to design for the entire outdoor space.

Cole's hip urban style often featured recycled products. Albeit more as a financial necessity than a social statement. From found objects off the streets of New York, Cole gathered her first design components and later her inspirations for outdoor and indoor decor. Within a short time, her business and her popularity grew far beyond New York. Through television, radio and books, Cole became a multifaceted enterprise.

In breaks from designing celebrity terrace gardens or Hampton's landscapes, Cole also co-hosted a Discovery Channel original design program, “Surprise by Design.” On the show, Cole explored and featured unique products that met her sensibilities and introduced her own style to product manufacturers. The show helped her see an opportunity to market her style to a wider audience. Until then, Cole had been creating fabrics and furniture for her outdoor design projects on an individualized custom basis. Today, Cole is creating alliances with various manufacturers that distribute her product designs in specialty retailers nationwide.

Currently in negotiations with an outdoor fabric and a furniture company, Cole is constantly exploring opportunities to make her mark on the outdoor living arena. “I'm partial to smaller companies that get it,” she said. Referring to her sustainable yet eclectic styling, Cole feels she is at her best with people and organizations that share her passion for originality.

Cole said she also likes when her designs and products blend easily into an outdoor space and appear “to have been there for years.” Additionally, she realizes a design's success when it is requested more than once. “Each element is designed to be individual,” Cole said. “But when another likes the idea or the look, success results.”

With all that is growing for Rebecca, it is hard to believe she ever has creative dry spells. But when asked what she would then do for inspiration, her quick response is “call my irrigation man!”

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