Shawn Gibson, owner of Teatro Verde in Hazelton Lanes, Toronto, 2007. Photo: Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Toronto’s Teatro Verde Co-owner Shawn Gibson on the Best Book He’s Read This Year and What’s on his TBR Pile
The proprietor of the high-end lifestyle emporium and flower shop takes our Shelf Life questionnaire / BY Shinan Govani / April 26th, 2022
“It’s déjà vu,” Shawn Gibson quips. He is telling me about the move that Teatro Verde – the iconic lifestyle emporium and upscale florist shop he co-founded 25 years ago in Toronto with his partner, Michael Pellegrino – is set to make next month. After moving twice in recent years, it returns to its original lair in Hazelton Lanes, a nostalgia-churning locale for city socialites and garden-variety aesthetes. (Even the odd superstar – like when Lady Gaga once posted about their flowers!)
Books have long played a role in the dreamscape that is Teatro Verde – the shop has always had its pulse on art and design tomes – and since Gibson is something of a bibliophile, we thought we would check in on his reading likes and loves.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
I’ve started reading Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. A dear friend Joan, an avid reader and someone we talk about books with regularly, sent me a copy, and now I’m hooked. Twin brothers are the result of a secret union between and Indian nun and a British surgeon. When they are orphaned, they must navigate the world together in Ethiopia, which is on the verge of revolution. I don’t want to give anything away, but I feel some tears coming on.
What book can’t you wait to dive into?
Since aesthetics and design are so integral to what we do daily at Teatro Verde, I’m very interested in The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St. Clair. This book explores the cultural and social history of colours. I’ve always said if you want to see what’s coming in trends, you have to look to the past.
What’s your favourite book of all time?
Without a doubt, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Everyone should read this book; it’s a life changer. It will make you refocus your view of life and make you grateful for everyday things you had no idea you should be grateful for.
What book completely changed your perspective?
Marcel Wolterinck’s first untitled book about florals, interiors and lifestyle. It’s simple and visually stunning, sophisticated and was a huge inspiration for Teatro Verde’s store concept. The Dutch designer has written a lot of books since this one, the latest being Designing Your World ll.
If you could have dinner with any author, living or dead, who would it be?
I would love to have dinner with Rohinton Mistry. His novels are written in such a way that they pull at your heartstrings while feeding your curiosity. I greatly cherish A Fine Balance, Family Matters and Such A Long Journey – to name a few.