Inspiration and Influence: Image Spark

I love tools that allow me to work intuitively.  I don’t mind spending time to master the use of a new tool, but when one comes along that is as elegant  as Image Spark  I have to share.  Image Spark a place to find and save visual inspiration.

It’s the first site I’ve found for visual bookmarking that makes sense to me.  I use Flickr and PhotoShop for many things, but Image Spark is a snap (no pun intended) to use.  It’s easy and intuitive.   It is social in that you can view and share images from others by simply hitting a plus icon–use the minus to delete.  You create a library of images via your own photos or easy (and automatically credited) uploading from the web (with a simple right click for Windows) or by grabbing images from other users.   You can make images private if you don’t want to share them.  Here’s a link to my library part of which is shown below.

Image Spark Library
Image Spark Library

The best part of Image Spark is not the library, it’s what you can do with it.  Using a very simple drag and drop interface you can create mood boards with your images. This type of visualization is key for any designer.  Images can be resized and placed how and where you want them–the same way you would do with a traditional cut and paste mood board.  Currently, there is a 2 mood board limit and the only way to share them (other than the screen shots I made) is to do so via a link.  Below is a screen shot of an inspiration board I made using some of the images from my library shown above–click on the board to enlarge it or view the original is here.  Yeah, I was in one of those Secret Garden meets Wuthering Heights meets Out of Africa moods.

Garden Inspiration
Garden Inspiration

Speaking of sharing…I have to thank my very own art school student, Alex, whose instructor in a Design Procedures class turned him on to the site and he in turn showed me.

Garden A Go-Go

In an odd alignment of  things, one of the emerging trends in both fashion and landscape design is based on 1960s mod, so I thought I’d explore some of the possibilities for gardens starting with a groovy magazine cover as inspiration.

Harper's Bazaar Cover c. 1966
Harper's Bazaar Cover c. 1966

This is not a retro trend, we aren’t going to recreate Mad Men in the garden–although thinking about that idea is fun…60s Pop is clean and modern and draws from both vintage and contemporary sources.  Fun yet sophisticated color, shiny surfaces, and space age shapes for garden accessories are dominant  with plants adding texture and more complex layers of color.

Bertoia chairs from Knoll
Bertoia chairs
J. Schatz birdhouse
J. Schatz birdhouse
Bauer Pot
Bauer Pot
Dutchtub
Dutchtub

Since this is a trend for gardens, plants are still primary players.  I first saw these plants at the 2009 APLD International Landscape Design Conference in Portland, Oregon last summer.  The exuberant colors of these 2010 perennial introductions–all from Terra Nova Nurseries— illustrate just how up-to-the-minute and trendy  A Go-Go garden can be.

Yucca 'Bright Star'
Yucca 'Bright Star'
Echinacea 'Tangerine Dream'
Echinacea 'Tangerine Dream'
Geum 'Eos'
Geum 'Eos'
Heuchera 'Shanghai'
Heuchera 'Shanghai'
Heleborus Winter Jewels 'Golden Lotus'
Heleborus Winter Jewels 'Golden Lotus'
Pulmonaria 'Silver Bouquet'
Pulmonaria 'Silver Bouquet'

In all of this, I can’t ignore the gardener…there’s always, in my mind, other fashion decisions to be made in the  60s Pop A Go-Go garden so I’ll be wearing these.

Doc Martens
Doc Martens

Have a happy and safe holiday week.  Miss R will be back after dancing the mashed potato for Thanksgiving.

Photo credits:  Top to bottom:  Harper’s Bazaar cover | Harper’s Bazaar; Bertoia Chairs | Knoll Studio; J. Schatz Egg Birdhouse |J. Schatz; Bauer Pot | Bauer Pottery; Dutchtub | Dutchtub; All plant portraits: Photos courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc. www.terranovanurseries.com; Doc Martens | Doc Martens

Show House Videos No. 1 and No. 3

It’s the beginning of designer showhouse season.  Designer previews for one that will take place in May 2010 are going on for those invited to submit their concepts for  a design space.  In the past I’ve kept an on-line journal for documenting each step of  these display gardens.  I’m not going to do that this year.  Instead, if I choose to participate, and it’s still an if, I’m going to upload video.

Here’s the space I really want as well as choice No 3.  I shared my No. 2 choice over at Designers on Design. We are all competing for spaces via design concepts and briefs.  No one knows who or how many other designers have their eyes on any particular spot. I’m sure, there are others who want my No. 1 too so I can’t share my plan until I know if I’ve won the space.  We will be notified mid-December.  I’m still not sure if I’ll even draw up more than one concept–that’s a lot of time…

I love abandoned garden spaces–if you dig deep enough they bear the imprint of those who once tended them. This enclosed  former garden (55′ W x 116’L) had those ghosts and spoke to me in a way that allowed me to visualize what it once was and what it could be immediately.

As I already said, go on over to Designers on Design (link above)  to see No. 2 choice billed there as ‘The Sweet Spot’.  Here’s choice No. 3 (15.5′ W x 97′ L)–don’t mind my lovelies and beautifuls…it was way past lunch time and my brain wasn’t tuned to the lingo channel.

I went out for coffee and a snack with both of the other landscape designers on the video who I know through being a member of  APLDNJ–only one of whom is also considering No. 3–the other is considering No. 2.

The ‘L’ Word

194-letter-L-by-Galland-q75-500x500

This post could also be called ‘What’s In a Name?” The new Twitter list tool has me thinking. I am thrilled to be included on so many people’s lists, but I’m wondering about the category most have put me in. I have always been a designer.  First I was a jewelry designer, then a fashion designer and lastly (and it is the last) a landscape designer. A designer first, the discipline second.

Back to Twitter lists.  On most people’s lists I am included in a list that has some sort of ‘gardening/gardener’ reference.  I wonder if they would include me there if the word ‘landscape’ wasn’t part of the title?  Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but if my own history is considered, it is the ‘D’ word, not the ‘L’ word that is the defining factor.

Neutrality, Part 1

As the late fall of November turns into early winter, I am determined to find beauty and inspiration in the season’s neutral color palette.  Rather than trying to hold on to the lush landscapes of other seasons with evergreens I want to indulge myself and explore a different idea.  My first thought is grey.  In my exploration of this most neutral of colors I discovered its intrinsic beauty but also, as many minimalists already understand, that combined with another soft hue it can create an ethereal mood like no other.  Those subtle combinations will be part of Neutrality, Part 2.

Grey gets a bad rap–even as I write this the sky outside the studio window is  flat and colorless.  Where is the beauty in that? That’s what I set out to find out for myself.   How, as a landscape designer, can I use it as inspiration for outdoor spaces rather than as a three month long sentence of colorless monotony punctuated by an occasional sunny day or snow?   My inspiration takes the form of a virtual mood board–a juxtaposition of ideas that jump starts my imagination.

Agave
Agave
Silver Tankard
Silver Tankard
Door
Door
Artemesia
Artemesia
Top Hat
Top Hat
Tree Well
Tree Well
Stone
Stone
Sculpture
Sculpture
Xray
Xray

Photo credits: Agave-Judy Watts via Flickr; Tankard-www.silverwareshop.com.uk; Door-author; Atemesia-www.gardening.eu; Top Hat-www.bates-hat.co.uk; Tree Well-author; Stone-author; Sculpture-www.1stdibs.com; Xray-Inquiry by Design

Slowing Time

Graph-Paper_a3.inddA blank piece of paper is staring back at me.  A new project awaits my creative design impulse and I’m stalling.  It’s November and I’ve been going at it full tilt for months on end… I need and want things to slow down a bit now.  With the waning light comes a less frenetic pace and I like to take more time to think ideas through.  I feel guilty for slowing down when I should not.  It is part of the cyclical nature of what I do—just like the change of seasons.

Inspiration and Influence: Craftsman Farms

As the brilliant fall foliage fades, I find myself thinking more and more about larger themes in the natural world and how they directly inform my own landscape design work.  Response to concerns about the health of our planet and its inhabitants have designers in all disciplines embracing sustainable practices and hailing biomimicry as the next design paradigm.  I have always looked for inspiration from the natural environment (among many other things), so this week I stopped at Craftsman Farms which is close to where I live in New Jersey

Harmony
Harmony

Originally more than 600 acres, the now 30 acre property is a National Historic Site.  Deservedly so, it is one of the most significant examples of American Arts and Crafts architecture.  Craftsman Farms also illustrates visually how the landscape can inform all types of design.

Local materials are used throughout
The main house in situ

Gustav Stickley, the visionary behind it, is most famous now for his now highly collectible ‘Craftsman’ style furniture.  Craftsman Farms is an outgrowth of his particular aesthetic, philosophical and social ideas.  Stickley built the compound almost 100 years ago as a model for sustainability.    The main house, which Stickley had planned as the center piece of a farm school for boys,  has been painstakingly restored but the garden areas have not.

Restored facade
Restored facade

It is a place inspired by its sense of place, much like gardens can be.

Texture
Texture
Natural steps
Natural steps

The idea that we as designers are a part of a larger natural system and need to be nourished and inspired by that system is best summed up in Stickley’s own words–“We need to go often to the treasury of Nature that we may restore, renew the magnetic force that makes us valuable to ourselves, to others. Nature gives so generously to those who go to her….She heals and enriches, never drains or impoverishes, and is always trustworthy, reliable.”

Note:  A short companion video can be viewed by clicking  here.