Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March Madness Returns, Designs in Process

My "Fletch" moment from the other day...
"And...here's the dog that almost bit me."

 The other day I was at a house to do base mapping, and just while I went to my truck to quickly grab my camera, the housekeeper let the dogs out who promptly bum rushed me at the property line and were committed to making me think I might need to jump up on the roof of my pickup truck to avoid getting mauled.  But I will provide this testimonial, "Invisible Fence for dogs... it really does work!"

But back to "real" content.

As I type this I can hear the sleet and snow mix pelting the window like little BB's.  The first day of spring was announced on Monday and welcomed with a "mild" 45-50 degree day, as the stretch of mild temperatures and slightly above freezing rains have allowed the 14"+ glacier of snow covering Minnesota to steadily melt and show the grass and emerging spring bulbs.  But now, we have freezing rain and 3-5" of snow accumulation forecast for tomorrow with another 5-6 days of February-like temperatures ahead.  A little bit of snow has come back and is here to stay for a while.  Again!

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show prospects are keeping Jack and I busy, although many are still holding off until the snow is gone for good.  We also have a small group of great professionals who we have been collaborating with on their projects, to try to help them get their business off to a good start this year as we help to offering their clients a high caliber of design.  I love working with people who are committed to providing the best service they can possible offer for their clients.  There are a group of excellent professionals in the landscaping industry here in the Twin Cities, offering world-class installation.  We are committed to offering world-class design, and helping to growing each other's business offerings to make this year the best it could possible be.

We've also been looking into another exciting collaboration which will enable Landscape Design studios to stay consistently busy with design. Things are exciting! 

What I like about my job the most is the design process.  I  have been a professional landscape designer now for 13 years, with the previous 6 of those years being saturated with art and design projects as a student.  I love it.  Although, as I mentioned in previous blog posts, it does feed my obsessive-compulsive tendencies.  But when some people have a video game they want to master, or a sudoku puzzle they want to finish, "Farmville" (er, maybe), or a 5,000 piece puzzle that they have to finish when they are at "the point of no return", I have landscape design and all of my CAD softwares to obsess over.  Every project is different, every client is unique, and every design is customized to have its own sense of personality and flair, tailored to that unique client.  Then the puzzle is getting it be that perfect marriage of price, style, and positive impact to my client's lifestyle and quality of life.   And, in most cases, to improve the value of their property as a worthy investment.  That's the constant mindset of a Lansdcape Designer, trying to fit all of the puzzle pieces together.  It is fun.  But it is also more fun when the projects get lined up and I am able to make a living, see the projects to fruition, and build lasting relationships as I have in the past.

Here are snippets of a couple of designs that I have been working on.  Again, this is a process and a couple of these are not quite done yet, but these designs have so far provided a very good facilitation to discuss what the homeowner's really are looking for and the level of investment they are considering for their home improvement project.  Hopefully they will end up in being a fun project to be a part of in the spring and summer of 2011.

All the best!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Pictorial Timeline of the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show 2011

the overview plan from the beginning.  what can we fit into a 20x20 that is interesting and makes a nice billboard to advertise our services and relay the message adequately?

mockup with signs
Dave's final mockup of the design idea.  Looking big picture.
Dave's new brochure cover.
looking for a fire table rock in the mix.
loading up our stone at the rail yard
where it all began.  just a pile of rocks and some sand fabric being brought in on the concrete floor.
setting waterfall rocks
pond liner and first boulders on falls are set.
the night before.  just a few more things to do and we're ready.
day 1 of 5.  we are amped up and ready to go.  we look just like the design picture, only better!
jack kicking back on the last day.
just a bit more stone to take out, as well as liner, and then the sand/mulch/rock pile is taken for screening and composting.

That's how we do it.  :-)


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nervous Energy

One thing that keeps me motivated is "nervous energy."  It also keeps me up way past my bedtime almost every night.  I have done nearly everything in the past to try to cure my tendencies toward insomnia short of prescription medicine (at least in the past 10 years).  There's been Tylenol PM, a glass of warm milk, chamomile tea, a glass of red wine, routine excersize, and even some deep breathing and mediation.  But nothing seems to help much other than staying up and working through a design.  I have succumbed to the fact that my nervous energy is productive and helps to keep me motivated to do positive things for my design work and for my business.

"Nervous" is a term I use to describe what could be stress or anxiety.  But it could also be a motivational excitement along with the fits of creativity that promote my obsessive-compulsive nature and insomnia.  Some of the best design ideas and most productive time I have comes when the Twins game is coming into the 9th inning (when hopefully Joe Nathan is taking the mound for the save) or when late-night television is in full swing, or when I am 12-13 songs deep into my YouTube playlist.  Or, sometimes I just turn everything off and listen to the sounds of midnight and the evening breeze blowing through our Sun Room, carrying all kinds of relaxing aromas throughout the summer. 

Although I often curse the lack of sleep, I also secretly love the time "alone" in my comfort zone, and the inner peace it gives me to think through all of the questions that circulate through one's mind amidst working through a design process. Of course, I especially enjoy it when I know if it is helping to keep the bills paid and provide for my family.

Designing landscapes is a really fun expression of creativity.  I love the blend that landscape design has, as a synergy of visual composition in the 2D fine art quality that a landscape plan has, with the blend of three-dimensional spatial design in how the space works, feels, functions, and looks aesthetically.  Then, there's the articulation of the design from a construction standpoint, and the presentation of the design from a aesthetics standpoint.  Of course, there is also construction management, and then the business side with all the accounting and marketing in this profession that is equally if not more important.  It requires a great deal of thoroughness to be a landscape design business.

But the part that I do like the most is the collaboration with the client and the design process.  Then, being able to create a unique set of graphics that will hope to "wow" them and get them excited about the project that we have been developing together.

Often times, people love their homes and take pride in the comfortable home they have created.  The new landscape can become a place that compliments the comfort of the home and extends its feel into the outdoors.  Or, it can even become a place that completely transports them away from home and takes them to a "get-away" place or a retreat right in their back yard, and just be something completely different.  Perhaps the weekend spent in the backyard can be your "home away from home" and your back yard vacation.

With a lot of nervous energy and excitement, we are heading over to the Minneapolis Home and Garden show, looking forward to some interesting conversations with people about their landscape projects.  Hopefully the conversations lead to many days, and nights, spent working through the design process and settling back into that comfort zone.