Written by: Kristen Horine, Land Planner
If you needed me growing up, I would have been stream side peeling off leeches, in the backyard digging up red wrigglers or napping on the forest floor covered in sap. I have always felt connected to the natural world, so the transition from curious child to environmentalist felt seamless – and so did the transition from graphic designer to landscape architect.
My love for the trees led me to pursue a degree at Michigan State University in Agriculture and Natural Resource Communications with a specialization in Environmental Studies. While there, I learned how best to communicate environmental issues with the public/legislators/stakeholders/naysayers and how to make these messages effective…and pretty. I worked with non-profit environmental organizations to produce logos, marketing collateral and websites, bringing attention to their ever important messages.
After a move across the country to Portland, Oregon (Mt. Hood calling my name), I fell in love with gardens. All of them. Messy and natural Rudbeckia maxima falling over coreopsis and gently cradling a small patch of phlox. Formal, with the boxwoods all in a row, with sage providing a fragrant and welcoming space. I became a certified Master Gardener and volunteered my time talking about garden pests, juicy tomatoes and how to make the best lavender scone. One day at a volunteer event, I met a landscape architect. She gave me the LA tour of the city I loved; Lawrence Halprin’s Lovejoy Plaza, Atelier Dreiseitl’s Tanner Springs and Washington Park’s Japanese Garden. I felt like she tore open a new portal of adventure, and I jumped in.
I applied to Temple University’s School of Environmental Design (one of the few schools in the country with a graduate level landscape architecture degree with a core focus on ecological restoration). I moved from Portland to Philadelphia. I was excited to take my core skills of graphic design; contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity and blend them with interactive and ever-changing outdoor spaces.
The natural world is the most inspiring venue for beauty…texture, color and pattern seep through the fabric of space. One of my favorite landscape architects, Gary Smith – captures this idea perfectly. I heard him speak in a small venue at Winterthur Museum and Country Estate in Delaware one breezy fall day. As a trained artist, he pulls his inspiration from the nine basic patterns he finds in the world. Scattered, mosaic, naturalistic drift, serpentine, spiral, circle, radial, dendritic and fractured. In his own words, “These (patterns) can be used to describe almost everything that exists. Often when exploring the natural world, you’ll find that two or more patterns combine to create a rich visual image.” He calls on these patterns to create something remarkable in the landscape.
I started at Environmental Design Group this past January. This firm is the perfect blend of science, engineering, art and nature. I am fortunate to work with some of the greatest minds, who have the ability to seamlessly push the envelope of design to produce something beautiful as well as functional. I still have a lot to learn on this career path, but have always found nature to be a pretty patient teacher.