Aspirational Garden Design

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal about who is buying luxury products was good news to me.  Aspirational buyers love their gardens as well as the interiors of their homes.  They hire designers.   That, in my way of thinking, is a very good thing.

Many in the economic climate of the last several years have become DIY champions and warriors, ignoring that those of us who provide thoughtful design services that often make living in a spaces both indoors and out more efficient, sustainable and in the long run much more cost effective than doing it yourself.

Now that that mini-rant is over, on to the inspiration part of the aspiration.  As part of my landscape design practice, I specify furniture and accessories for outdoor environments.  Readers here know that I’m constantly on the lookout for pieces that will work for the transitional and neo-traditional outdoor living spaces I design.  I have taken my now 4 year old Janus beauty book to more than one client appointment.  Aspirational and inspirational, this catalog not only showcases furniture, its’ chock full of other ideas…if you look.  The furniture is extremely high quality and super expensive…hence the aspiration part.

Here’s a look at 2011’s Beauty Book and some ideas I took away from it.

Grey, washed out citrus and aubergine

An extremely sophisticated color palette of washed out grey, ivory, citrus and aubergine.  I’ve been seeing yellow and grey for interiors, and this makes sense of it outdoors.

Naturalist's collection

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the chair, but what interests me is the display of neutral ‘naturalist’ shells, bones and other anthropomorphic items behind it. ( There’s a fast emerging trend based on historic naturalists and plant hunting — see Garden Design and the New York Times.)

A celebration of neutrals

There have been hints for a while that a totally neutral color palette is coming back…look how the small green lawn pops when it doesn’t have to compete.  There’s a garden design lesson there.

Dark garden walls and wood decking

Obviously styled to show off the furniture, I really like the dramatic, dark, glossy walls and wood decking in this image.  Glossy with matte can work for structures as well as plant combinations and is worth exploring further.

Ideas can come from anywhere–it’s what we dream about and aspire to that inspires and informs the spaces we live in.

4 thoughts on “Aspirational Garden Design

  1. Hey, Susan, inspirational and aspirational. The fresh leaf green (which you called citrus) is the key to some very modern colour palettes, too. It’s repeated in almost all your pictures.

    There’s so little to look at in winter sometimes that books and catalogs send my imagination soaring. This was one. Glad you liked it!–s

  2. Susan, I studied interior design for two years and love the projects where there’s an opportunity to pull interior elements outside. You’ve shown some examples that have gobs of drama without being a candy apple red dress at a black and white ball. Love it!

    Thank you Dave! I have a warm place in my design heart for interior designers and architects. I think the knowledge of these related fields can and should inform the outside built environment….just another of many things to consider.–s

  3. Very nice combos, dramatic and peaceful. Good design is always a blur of inside and outside; leave out the outside, and it’s no longer good design. Of course, as an LA, I must agree with your comments on hiring a professional over DIY design / build!

    We aren’t the only design industry to suffer from the economic downturn, that’s for sure. Our aspirational customers will be back…those who spend any time outside anyway!–s

  4. Susan,

    Well said. I love the white, purplish brown and chartreuse combination ..

    You’re right on the mark. I’ve been studying this arena because my daugher is planning to open a high-end retail store.
    A good book to read is “Trading Up”. There are plenty of others. But I think these authors say it in a simple and clear way.

    I love what you said about ideas coming from anywhere. An example…at the beginning of one season, I entered The Tea Cup Garden at Chanticleer and saw that it had been completely revamped. Dan Benarcik happened to be there. I asked him what inspired him to create this garden. His answer….a cover and story from a magazine…my kind of guy!

    We need more professionals like you in the gardening industry who not only appreciate beauty but know how to ‘design’ it….Fran

    Thank you so much for the kind words. Once bitten by the ‘inspiration’ bug it’s hard to not be inspired by everything and anything. Designer is what I am, outdoor environments and gardens is my venue…–s

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