Wyer hails focus on 'harder reality'

Leading designer calls time on faddy projects and highlights harder reality of maintenance needs.

Sleek white walls and chic limestone terraces - hallmarks of a "suburban modernism" trend - are on the wane, and good-riddance, a leading designer has said.

John Wyer said design is now less faddy and more rooted in the harder realities of maintenance needs. He will tell a conference on 27 April how often he has been called in to tone down other designers' work that has become lustreless too soon.

"Suburban modernism, or the white rendered box, could have landed from outer space," he will tell the Society of Garden Designers Maintaining the Vision spring conference. "It could sit anywhere, has no culture or place and is a design cliche.

"Maintenance, which sounds boring, is a crucial process of design. Its consideration is vital in moving the idea from the brain to paper and from paper to site. Maintenance, once an afterthought, is now rising up design and client agendas, and rightly so."

Projects by his practice Bowles & Wyer, such as the Lancasters in London, were conceived with maintenance in mind at the same time as the creatively conceptual "squiggly lines" - right at the beginning of the process.

TV broadcaster and Clifton Nurseries managing director Matthew Wilson agreed. He will tell the conference, at Imperial College London, how luminary product designer Dieter Rams informs his garden design and has shaped the creation of icons such as the iPod.

"His legendary 10 principles of good design apply as much to landscapes as radios. I look at how they can help long-term sustainability. When designs don't work or start unravelling, it's often because maintenance has failed."

Topiary expert Jake Hobson said: "Pruning, shaping and maintenance are key to how a garden matures and is the grey area between plant and person. Whatever the intent, there will always be change, and upkeep must be part of that intent."

Dieter Rams Ten principles of good design
1. Innovative
2. Useful
3. Aesthetic
4. Unobtrusive
5. Honest
6. Understandable
7. Long-lasting
8. Thorough down to last detail
9. Environmentally friendly
10. Designed as little as possible

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