Urbz was founded in 2018 by a family of artists, dreamers, and lovers of Nature whose passion is to create “The Great Indoors” by transforming built spaces into green habitats that radiate life and energy.
Urbz' mission is to fuel imagination and enrich our understanding of the relationship between nature, science, and humanity.
WHO WE ARE
Maryann — Growing up in a Korean-Italian family, Maryann experienced global culture at a young age. She was born in San Francisco but traveled all over the world with her parents. She developed her talents in art and design but her Korean Mom was emphatic that she pursue more practical fields for a career. Maryann became a molecular biologist and worked in biotechnology for 15 years before transitioning to a more demanding role — full-time Mom. Today, she combines her love of art and design with her know-how in biology with Urbz.
Andy — Andy is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about merging biotech with consumer markets. He is a 20-year veteran of the life sciences industry with a knack for design and marketing. He’s co-founded six businesses including BioPop (makers of the Dino Pet) and Atlast Food Company, a spinout of Ecovative that uses mushrooms to make plant-based meats. Andy’s work has been featured in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and sold at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Roark — Growing up on the edge of the ocean and surrounded by Nature, Roark is a curious explorer who inspires Urbz’ mission. She represents the openness of coloring outside the lines, imagining different realities, and recharting the future of spaceship Earth.
On a quest for cool design elements to bring Nature into their home to stoke their young daughter’s curiosity with the living world, husband and wife duo, Maryann and Andy, who are both biologists and designers, were not satisfied with what existed. They decided to do what was in their DNA and create their own. Urbz was conceived in 2018.
The company name, Urbz, is representative of the increasing number of city dwellers and the need for us to feel connected to Nature in our urban habitats.
Urbz + Herbs
The first product released by the company was the Urbz® planter — a window planter for growing herbs, houseplants, and flowers on vertical surfaces like glass, tile, and mirrors.
The Urbz® planter brings Nature inside and makes smart use of small spaces. The window attachment technology was inspired by a gecko’s ability to walk up vertical surfaces, adhere strongly, and disengage without using any sticky residue (Nature inspiring design is known as biomimicry). Once on the window, the planter’s see-through design displays the earth just as prominently as the plants that grow out of it.
The window planter was a success, not just in its commercial debut but also in its original intention. It piqued their daughter’s curiosity. Roark wanted to know what she saw growing within the soil of the planter. And just like that, Urbz’ mission took root.
The Second Act
Urbz’ second product is a reinvention of the fam’s fascination with bioluminescent algae.
Side note: Andy co-founded BioPop in 2013, the company behind the Dino Pet (a bioluminescent dinoflagellate aquarium in the form of a tail-less apatosaurus). The Dino Pet was a huge global hit among geeks, moms, and kids of all ages. In 2018, Andy sold BioPop to a leading synthetic biotechnology company with big dreams. The new owner decided to change directions and the Dino Pet went extinct. Forever…?
After experiencing a two-month bloom of bioluminescence in San Diego in 2020, Andy wanted to share this beautiful natural phenomenon with people around the world again. Urbz resurrected dinoflagellates with the Mushlume UFO. One part bioluminescent mushroom and one part spacecraft with a tractor beam, the Mushlume transports bioluminescent plankton into your living room to enjoy from the comfort of your couch night after night.
|Maryann working in the dino lab||Viewing dinos under the microscope|
1969 Chevy P10 Step Van
Find us on the roads around San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. Follow @urbzgarden on instagram to keep track of our whereabouts.
We roll in a 1969 Chevy P10 step van that's painted jacaranda purple.