Saul Bass said it best, "Design is thinking made visual." When we design, when we make choices about how our spaces will look and feel, we are thinking outloud. We are having an unspoken conversation with everyone who enters that space. The architect/designer is the translator - they take the message and convey into three dimensional form. The hardest of these spaces is the outdoor space.
Outdoor spaces present a great challenge and a great opportunity. We have to contend with wind, sun, water, mold, mildew, bugs, birds - the list goes on. These dynamic spaces require vigilance and obedience to all those factors, to ensure that the space remains safe, functional and pleasing. So the magic is more about turning overpowering wind into a gentle breeze that brings in smells and recollections, bending direct sun into a warm atmosphere that relaxes and yet provides views that excites the eyes. It allows us to connect to nature - and our blood pressure goes down, we relax. Outdoor spaces remind us that we can conquer our environment and it can conquer us. It is about planning - picking the right materials, the best colors, textures and forms and intertwining our indoor story with the experience and power of nature. When I visit my sister in the summer in Rhode Island, a large granite boulder in her front yard becomes my work space. I perch myself on that rock, cell phone, laptop and pad of paper in hand. The shade is just the right amount, the breeze quite perfect. I must look very odd to her neighbors but it is a wonderful outdoor space and I am able to generate a lot of work from that tranquil spot. I finish my work with a great deal of energy left. And I think that is what an outdoor space is, a chance to find balance.