Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Taking the Plunge - Outdoor Furniture Design

"Tablecloth" my first venture into Outdoor Furniture Design

I have been thinking a lot of late about outdoor furniture and this is the reason why - I have flung myself into the world of furniture design. It came about by accident really - a chance remark by someone and I began to think about it and then I began to look around at outdoor furniture. There was a lot of it and a lot that looked a lot like all the other furniture - wooden or aluminium and synthetic webbing and a bit of glass here and there. While furniture for interiors is awash with colour and imagination I find that outdoor offerings on the whole are not.

"Tablecloth" - detail

So I took the plunge. I know a little bit of madness possessed me but I find I am enjoying myself. So here before you I present a little of my work and a little bit from others who I think do a great job. Some other Australian work and a couple of international pieces which are probably only for those with the deepest pockets. And since I'm self promoting today - you can see more about the furniture and the ideas behind it at

This piece is from Tait - an Australian company who produce some great outdoor furniture - all designed and made in Australia. This is there latest offering entitled Jak & Jil.

I love these - another Australian design the Aura seating system by 2Design. These pebbles can be bought in this delicious stone effect or illuminated - they're comfy and good looking.

Well, I had to include some of the international work - Patricia Urquiola designed this "Tropicalia" setting for Moroso - I love the vibrant colour.

Something a little more restrained in colour (but not design) from Danish designer Louise Campbell.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Plants that inspire "Time Travel"

The beachscape of my childhood

My visit to New Zealand took me back to the botanical landscape of my childhood and this prompted me to contemplate how certain plants can immediately evoke a sense of well being through their connection in my memory to happy days gone by. No need for a time machine, one whiff, one glance, one taste and I am transported to a different time and place.

I don't think this an aspect of garden design that is often thought of by professional designers because it is something that is so personal. It is certainly something I think that we recreate in our own gardens - probably often without conscious thought.

I certainly vividly recall one day when I was studying design in the UK how one of the other students mentioned their love of of the scent of lilacs because of the memories of summers past that this plant gave her. The lecturer was somewhat scathing of the value of this plant because he felt it's "form" was not desirable. I think he somewhat missed the point. Surely contentment derived from a memory of a plant is of equal value to its look.

For me there is a whole litany of plants that immediately make me feel content many are from summers spent at the beach;

My Nana had a beach house (on the Kapiti Coast in the North Island of New Zealand illustrated) located right on the beachfront. The smell of pine immediately transports me to those delicious strolls beneath the pines back to her house from the beach after a swim - salty water dripping from me, the sun on my back, and my bare feet warm in the sand.

Yellow Lupins in the Sand dunes

Also on summer holidays we used to spend many happy hours in the sand dunes making houses and shops amongst the yellow lupins that grow wild in that area. The lupin bushes provided us places to hide and make cubby houses and the flowers were a multi-purpose device, especially useful when shredded, to be used as money or alternatively an imaginary food source (corn).

Certain plants were more tempting to the taste buds.
When visiting my Nana, we used to make a drink known to us as a "special" - a mixture of lemonade, vanilla ice-cream and mint. We would collect the mint from the garden and then make our delicious concoction and suck the lemonade and icecream from the mint as we consumed our drink. A delicious summer treat.

Somewhere along the way we also discovered that red salvia had the most delicious nectar. It grew next to the sandpit and as we played we would pluck the flowers and suck the nectar from it. Much to my delight my son and I found a bush of this Salvia on the route to his school - so when it is in flower we indulge in the same ritual and I feel delighted that I can share this with him.

I could list many other plants that bring back so many happy memories of childhood but am curious to know what plants evoke memories for others. They are almost "time travel" plants so specific to a place and time are they. If you feel like sharing your "time travel" plants please leave a comment.