Landscape designers share their techniques

A sell-out conference in London last week had some of the world's finest designers regaling an audience on differing approaches to creating showcase landscapes.

Sussex design: shown at event. Image: Ian Kitson
Sussex design: shown at event. Image: Ian Kitson

Around 300 people came together to see and hear about the contrasting styles of Christopher Bradley-Hole and landscape architect Ian Kitson.

Other speakers lured by Society of Garden Designers included Chile-based Juan Grimm and the team of Arnaud Maurieres and Eric Ossart, who work in France, Mexico and Morocco.

Kitson told the conference at Imperial College, London, that his design was inspired by the wider context and was "organic, liquid and plastic" in style and tenor.

"We playfully invented a word to describe my design recently: 'circumtinuous'. It hints at the energy and curvaceous nature of my design," he explained.

"It is different from Christopher's, which is more orderly and linear in its arrangement, but the contrast is interesting and both styles are equally precise."

Kitson said many designers were solo practitioners, so get-togethers were important to "share and celebrate how individuals think about and approach design".

He showed five recent designs, including a televised garden for a large house in Sussex with swirling walled forms and stepped levels of turf.

Bradley-Hole said he advised students with creative block to draw all the landscape elements they knew they did not like to help free up their imagination.

Maurieres and Ossart told the conference how their work used the concept of the oasis as an ideal template for garden spaces.

Grimm, trained in architecture and landscape, said he drew inspiration from the perfection found in nature to create a "dialogue" between topography and structure.

Conference chair John Wyer said: "Juan Grimm was brilliant: he seems to paint his landscapes by dipping his brush in surrounding landscapes, so man-made elements blend beautifully with the natural. Kitson and Bradley-Hole are so very, very different in style."

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