Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Are design competitions worth the time and effort?

I am just back from the post office more extortion as they extracted the cost of getting a competition entry submitted in time. OK so it's my own fault for leaving it until the last minute but really, £5.05? for delivering an A4 envelope, a light A4 envelope, to an address a mere two counties away?!

That said I am thrilled at the achievement of getting not one but two essays/articles written in the last few weeks. I'm not that hopeful about winning anything or even being placed but on a personal level I am proud of myself for knuckling down and writing first a Historical Review of a local National Trust garden, Wimpole Hall and secondly, perhaps even more surprisingly, for sitting down this morning at 7am and writing solidly for 5 hours to produce a creditable 2000 words on a garden visit I made in late summer, The Dorothy Clive Garden in Shropshire.

Am now wondering how it took me 4 weeks to write the first one which was only 1300 words longer! I am going to blame the research angle entirely, and yes the research took weeks :)

After the remains of today off, next week I am thinking about getting started on an entry for the Chris Beardshaw mentoring program.

Oh and once the results are out I'll publish both here, if of course they don't win awards and thereby publishing restrictions ;)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Noel Kingsbury

Should really have posted the day I got back so inspired was I, but life got the better of me and here I am 6 days later putting finger to keyboard ( pen to paper sounds so much nicer!).

Organised by an SGD member in Bishops Stortford some 50+ designers arrived at Writtle enthused about the lecture from Dr Noel Kingsbury.

Not quite sure what to expect I was surprised  by how youthful he seemed - I am becoming increasingly ageist it would seem! His credentials seem to stretch forever and his comment that he began a nursery at the same time as Carol Klein started her Devon nursery, made me do a double take.

A fascinating and thought provoking lecture ensued as he covered succession, right plant right place and how to actually do that well. Asking us to consider the effects on maintenance (reduction!) and longevity (much longer) of our designed gardens should we take this approach.

As I am sure you know by now I am more plants than design (sorry Duncan!) and as the day went on I began to realise that a passion for plants can really enable a vision for design or maybe that should be a creative expression. Really understanding my media (the plants) and what makes them work well is going to unlock a whole world of possibilities. Because lets face it whilst many new varieties pop up at our yearly RHS shows, in the main, new genus and species do not get discovered every day and even if they did, the time to the typical gardening market is S L O W W W W.

We spent the morning in a darkened lecture theatre where I learnt that Dr K could do with some help on his powerpoint presentations though obviously not the content therein. In the afternoon we wandered through the rather fabulous gardens of the college, putting what we had learned in the morning into practice and trying, in our smaller groups, to identify the various types of plant matter and it's growing patterns.

Obviously the opportunity to ask as many questions as you like to someone as knowledgeable as Dr K was brilliant and I felt that spark of excitement when you know you've met a kindred spirit, an inspiring and gifted teacher and consequently someone you can learn a LOT from.

I now have all his books (slowing working my way through them!) and will be keeping an eagle eye out for further opportunities to take courses with him.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Web Site Designer

Well I am officially working with a small local-ish company to design my corporate ID and if we work well together and the quote for web design is within budget we will do the website together too.

Have to say it was a pleasure to meet two clearly clued up desinger-y types with a non nonsense, no fuss approach, a beautiful inspiring 'office' space and clearly an understanding that for a truly good design, being functional is vital - I hark back to a previous professional life where the founders company motto was heartwarmingly focused and simple:-
"Functional should be beautiful and beautiful must be affordable"

The process of finding SuttonCo was an interesting one that led me to scads of 'local' web designer sites which were hideous and not remotely fit for purpose not to mention ugly, ugly, ugly!

Reminding me AGAIN that good design, be it website, corporate, interior or garden is not as common nor easy to find as one might think it would be. But I do say thank heaven for the web otherwise I would not have found them nor been able to research them through blog and social media and guys and gals social media marketing works!

In between times I have been back to some gardens for a second photogrpah, and look, Wisely and The Savil last week and Wimpole Hall yesterday. When I get 5 minutes I will post images

Monday, September 13, 2010

Website Design

Moving into the next phase of the transition to Garden Designer has me researching not only web designers but websites and I am surprised by the number of eminently capable designers who do such a poor job of designing their own website.

It  si as if they throw out all the principles they have leant and, well, and what?!

Today I came across a real classic, oh it's elegant the person is a top designer who has won awards and plenty of press BUT BUT BUT, their internet showcase fails to deliver anything but a suspicion that their web designer took them for a ride, an expensive one!.

Text banged up against a table edge on one side and miles away from the other - making it look mean and out of proportion, so much flash you give up  after the first 3 pages, content text so small, text so similar in tone it is barely visible on the page and content so 'blah blah blah' you switch off before the flash even finishes :), headers the change from a readable font to an illegible one as you 'roll-over' it - probably the ' clients choice' but it remains a poor one.

Ok enough of annihilating this designer sites - and no I will not say who's it is...well unless you offer bribery then I might consider it.

It is not the first, nor the last to demonstrate such a clear ignorance about the medium in which they are marketing themselves. Web goers are a short attention spanned lot, and I include myself in this, we want it NOW, we want it CLEAR, we want it to scream WELL DESIGNED and we do not want pretension - unless it is of the uber cool variety!

Needless to say I am still hunting for my 'within budget' web designer......
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