A mine of inspiration 




Apart from weekend broadsheet newspapers I get a host of garden and design magazines which sit in toppling piles around the house. Any hiatus in activities, (today caused by snow), can always be filled by ripping apart magazines for useful articles, which then get filed in a massive bank of midnight blue (inevitably) filing cabinets.


I have files with strange titles like ‘transparency’, ‘verticality’, ‘mosses and liverworts (!!)’ and optical illusions. Some articles will offer immediately applicable information or ideas. Many go unused for months or years, but are there as a huge resource to be plundered.


Rarely is an idea slavishly copied, more adapted. For example,  today I was struck by a pleached and stilted hedge around a square lawn at Houghton Court. But why is it not a double row of trunks which would provide a walk beneath? This would have more impact and would be closer to Luciano Giubbilei’s double row at Chelsea last year. And so on.


But what I value even more is the chance impact of images, which come from other worlds and have nothing to do with gardening. Articles on travel, interiors, fashion, the arts in general and even product ads can all be inspirational. I usually stick these into a scrapbook, which then, with other scraps, notes and thoughts becomes a stream of design consciousness and enthusiasm. How pretentious is that? Well, I am on my 20th volume of that kind of pretensiousness actually!


Today I saved the squiggle scrawled by a baker on the top of a poilane loaf, a pattern on a Verner Panton mug and some of the sensational images by Edward Burtynsky. In particular with the latter I was struck by his photos of mines and quarries. This led me to google images on abandoned quarries and mines, you have been passing on the way.


All the above images from wherever thrilled or intrigued me. The image below I can see an immediate design use for:

I imagine these columns tossed, as though by a giant, rhythmically along a bank beside a winding path through a forest. They could be interplanted with ferns, like the oak and beech fern, epimediums and vancouverias to set off their rough hewn strength.

I note it in my book as a pretty strong idea.

All the rest go into the casting couch that is my filing cabinet!