Ever since I read about Desert de Rez created by Francois Racine de Monville in 18th century, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of the garden folly. Read is the key word here. I have been reading about the Jardins Metis for several years. This year’s festival winner, GARDEN FOLLY, a work by dL Studio and Ekachai Pattamasattayasonthi turned the idea of folly on its head.
PO: Why Metis?
EP: I have known about the international garden festival at the Metis Garden in Canada for quite some time, mostly through some well known international design websites I follow. I have found the gardens by various designers from the previous years, very inspiring and when the opportunity came as the Redford garden was calling for design proposals for its 13th Edition of the International Garden Festival, I thought we should give it try. I contacted my colleague, Tom Lee and Soren DeNiord, who have a joint atelier, dL Studio, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine, if they might be interested.
It was a great collaboration between three designers and the international garden design competition gave us a chance to explore, exercise and academically debate interesting design schemes through the concept making process.
The given budget for installation is 10,000 CND, which is the constraint in this project. Tom Lee and I did some research and adjusted the design to fit the budget, without too much compromising of the form and concept of the design. We worked closely with Francois LeBlanc, who is contractor at the garden festival, who guided us and brought the project to its completion this summer.
PO: What is the inspiration for your project?
EP: We always find inspiration and concepts for our projects through research. When we started looking for an inspiration for the Metis garden, we investigated historical and physical aspects of the Metis garden site. After we studied numerous installations at Metis, which included garden history dating back to its first edition in the year 2000, we found that they were generally associated with the notion of garden design history, development and reinterpretation.
I was particularly interested in picturesque gardens, formal English and French gardens, and pattern garden design; so I started from gathering image precedents of those gardens and analyzed them.
During research, a garden folly emerged as a crucial element in picturesque landscape…it serves no particular function other than standing as a garden point of interest. As we know, garden folly is one of the historical garden elements that has been developed, modernized and reinterpreted periodically. Famous examples are the red folly structures in Parc De La Villette in Paris and Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Garden, London. However, these follies and the relationship to their surroundings are still severely divorced from each other. So we wanted to design a folly that was rather transient, transparent, and integrated… one with the garden.
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In short, rather than a solemn object sitting in the landscape, our design re-conceives the “garden folly” as a field of relationships, in which garden and structure reunite. A network of space grids that capture the garden of randomly scattered birch trees and pattern of ornamental grass.
PO: Can you tell me briefly about your firm and its work.
EP: dL studio is a young landscape design firm based in Cape Cod and Portland, Maine founded by Tom Lee and Soren deNiord. They are both great designers, who modern design draws inspiration from nature and modernist gardens. Their residential and public projects have won many awards and recognitions. For more information about dL studio, please visit their website.
I just graduated from the master degree program at MIT and currently I am an architectural designer at a firm in specializing in architecture and urbanism.
Thanks to Ekachai Pattamasattayasonthi for taking the time to answer my questions.
All photographs and visuals on this page courtesy of Ekachai Pattamasattaysonthi and dL Studio.