I grew up in a small coastal Florida town on the Gulf of Mexico. From an early age, I became a keen observer of nature around the bayous of Tarpon Springs. The tranquil residential streets lined with arching oaks and scented with lemon and gardenia flowers from the gardens on the waterfront transitioned to the bustling docks of the Greek sponge exchange on the river. With my brothers, we collected surinam cherry and mulberry fruits before church and after, enjoyed leisurely family lunches with our extended Greek family friends. From the dockside cafes, surrounded by adult storytelling and laughter, we enjoyed watching the procession of fishing boats and people. I was fascinated by the patterns I saw in living organisms from the sea and the structure of the traditional boats being built on the banks of the Anclote River. I was comfortable living between two worlds, the sea and the land; my warm welcoming family and our effervescent, spirited Greek friends.
After years of discovering the diversity of natural Florida from its fresh water springs to the remote labyrinth of water and islets off the south west coastline, I traveled. Living on Barbados and spending extended time at Point Lobos National Seashore, California, I was taken by the essence and spirit of place, composition of land form, ecosystems, patterns and light, fragrance and human activity.
At University, I studied Botany and Terrestrial Ecology. Later, as a research botanist at Everglades National Park, I was immersed in the rich connected interplay of the natural world. The interdependence of water and fire in shaping the landscape composition, the migratory birds and hammocks with rare orchids underscored both the strength and fragility of nature.
A change in direction allowed me to focus on mankind’s involvement in the natural world. I returned to University to study design and art. Planning and Landscape Architecture became my new focus. After education in the sciences, design awareness as a creative process was an epiphany and a personal expressive endeavor grounded in the subconscious, formed by discovery, intuition, experience and memory leading to ideas made tangible. I feel this excitement when engaged in the creative process.
In 1996, my wife Laura, and I started Craig Collins Intl on the island of Nevis in the Caribbean. We both share a love for adventure, travel, art, and of course design. My design projects have taken us through the Caribbean, to Morocco and Shanghai. Living part of the year in France gives us the opportunity to explore the rich cultural and garden experiences of Europe. Time off is spent with family and friends and cycling the Pyrenees and Alps.