Our next Guest Blogger in this series is Lorien Hall.
Lorien Hall designs custom landscapes and gardens for private clients who value creative, genuine, and original outdoor spaces. After years in the industry, she went into business on her own in 2007. You can find her work on LorienHall.com, subscribe to her blog LorienHallEveryday.com, and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
(We’re particularly fond of her Instagram feed.)
Last June I was finishing up with the best year of my life.
I know that’s a weighty statement to make, but it really was. And now that it’s almost been another year, I am seeing the effect of my experiences and how they have set me on a more distinct track, both personally and professionally. A Danish architect once said:
“Reduction and perfection have been the main goals for both craftspeople and inventors because avoiding the irrelevant means emphasizing the important.”
Living in London while going to design school afforded me many opportunities to not only learn about, but also live the concept of focusing on the important and negating the irrelevant.
GETTING RID OF EVERYTHING
When I was preparing to move to London I decided to get rid of everything I owned except for what I would take with me in three suitcases plus a carry-on and a backpack (which I later learned was still too much for London living). I did store my drafting table, my bed, some lamps, and a few boxes of personal items. The rest was sold, given away, or thrown away. I was in shock by how much “stuff” I had accumulated, and later realized how most of it hadn’t made my life any better. In a way, it had been weighing me down – once it was gone I felt more free and detached. It was wonderful. One learns what really matters once you are in a situation where you have to decide.
Once I arrived in London, I found a shoe-box room in a four bedroom flat to rent. To my American mind it was a tiny space. It fit a small bed, a small desk, a small dresser and a small bookcase. The small bookcase was set on top of the small dresser to gain floor space. That’s a lot of small. But over time, all that small became sufficient as I continued to learn that I didn’t need a lot to survive or to be happy.
Getting rid of everything and having to live small for a year has really changed things going forward.
Now that I am back to my old place and my old routine of design work, but with much less, I am now seeing how I have more time to manage my creativity, because I need less time to manage my possessions. For me, this is thrilling.
BECOMING A DISCERNING DESIGNER
Sometimes as a designer we want to include all of our awesome ideas into one project. “How amazing would this landscape be if it has this and this and this and…” After all, you really want to show your genius. But isn’t the genius in knowing what not to include, just as much as knowing what to include? I remember my second design project for the school year. I had labored over the design for countless hours and reworked areas until they were perfect. It was a beautiful design which I am still proud of.
After rave reviews from classmates and tutors, the director of the school looked at my design and then put his hand over a certain feature.
“What if it didn’t have this?”
It wasn’t really a question. I was crestfallen and it took a while to come around to his recommendation. I now see the wisdom in that advice. “What if I didn’t have this?” is a good question to ask ourselves regularly in all aspects of life.
PRACTICING RESTRAINT THROUGH EDITING
I am just now finishing up a design for a private client. The budget is continually being cut and therefore my ideas are as well. It is forcing me to do something that should be done with every design regardless of budget. Edit, edit, edit. Even if you have an open checkbook, editing is still one of the most important steps of the design process, in my opinion. Again, it goes back to what you don’t need just as much as what you do need. I have made some hard choices in regards to my design during these past few days and have deleted some elements which I thought were necessary. But now I am seeing a more purposeful design unfold before me. It’s stronger and has a clearer presence. Restraint isn’t something I tapped into a lot before my year in London, now it is almost a design mantra as I see how it creates more sophisticated spaces.
London was the best year of my life. However, I am definitely not going to put restraints on how this next year could unfold – after all, it too could become the best year of my life. I now see myself having the tools, experience, and courage to be the designer I ultimately want to become. I know I am on the right path for me. That path provides increased excitement and satisfaction each day as I continue to focus on the important and leave the irrelevant behind.