by germinatrix | January 25th, 2011
I didn’t write this post the way I should have.
This month’s Garden Designers Roundtable was a big design throw-down, where everybody attacked a design of a garden in the Northeastern part of the country. How fun, right? Wellllll…
I didn’t take up the challenge – I didn’t throw down the gauntlet.
Why you ask? You, Germinatrix, are a garden designer! You should be able to get a plan from across the country and be able to go to town on it – you should be able to DOMINATE!
But, there is something I need before I design a garden, something I absolutely must have before I approach the important work of creating a meaningful outdoor space for someone.
I need THEM.
I need to meet my clients. Actually, I need to MORE than meet my clients – I need to know them intimately. I know, I know – it sounds strange. It sounds invasive, maybe even vampirish! But I know from experience that my best work comes from the time I spend getting to know the people I am designing for. If I don’t really KNOW who they are and what they love, all I am doing is designing for myself.
Not that that is all bad, of course – I can address issues and challenges that always come with any site, I can enhance what is there and create something beautiful, of course. But it is the creating of spaces in collaboration with clients that makes me happy. I spend time with my clients – we have coffee, we have lunches, they come over to my house and we talk about desires and peeves. I want to know what makes them laugh and what they love. When I have infused a garden with the essence of the client is when I know I’ve done my job. I want all of my gardens to look different – I don’t want to see myself in my gardens, I want to see my clients. This is something that I’ll be working on forever, I’m sure – how to disappear in my work – how to make each garden I create as idiosyncratic and personal as each client. I want it to look like THEY made it. To do that, I need them.
Case in point – The Young Artists. They were my partners in creating their garden – they allowed me to ask crazy questions and poke and prod, to figure out not only the “them” they present to the world, but who they really ARE. Their tastes are different (not unusual – designers often have to marry two extremely different aesthetic styles into a landscape. It’s FUN!) He is clean, modern, sharp – he loves lines and angles, he is meticulous and has a tremendous personal power. He is also very funny and sweet and open to experimentation. She is sensual and free, theatrical and lush, she loves the unusual, the strange, the thing “under” the real thing. The opportunity to create for them was an incredible treat – something I feel so lucky to have experienced.
For me, knowing these two was so much more important than the contingencies of the site. The clients are the biggest variables of any design project. It may be indulgent of me, but it really is something I can’t design without. To do my best work, I need to fall in love with my clients. Some clients make it more difficult than others, but there is something in every client that I can find to grab ahold of, that I can attach myself to, that I can swoon over. It makes me a better designer.
So I apologize to my Roundtable peers for not taking up the sword with them this week – but PLEASE take a trip around the country and see what they did to the mystery site in the Northeast US – I guarantee it is going to be an eye-opening event!
XOXO Your Germinatrix