Some thoughts on design & designing…
We favor a rich, contemporary landscape design style that transforms landscape elements into functional art, based on sustainable design principles. If you browse our portfolio, you’ll see how we strive to make each design artistic yet functional, each landscape custom tailored to the needs of the client. You'll also see that no two designs are alike.
We do not consider sustainable design to be a style. Sustainable landscape design is a set of guiding principles used to make the design environmentally friendly, but the project can look modern, Asian, Moroccan, Mexican, Spanish, eclectic or have virtually any other style you like.
Get in touch!
If you have questions, just want to chat or are wondering how we could approach your project, please call us. We're happy to discuss options, chat about design theory, outdoor rooms, style, native plants, lawn replacement, water saving strategies or anything else related to your outdoor environment.
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Our design process
Design is a process that requires feedback between the designer and the client. Each successive design concept moves toward a better solution as it refines what should be included, its placement and how it should look. We build feedback into our approach, so you’re involved in the process all the way.
Both our principals have training in art, and exhibit their works in galleries from time to time. They use this artistic background to conceive fun and interesting landscapes and apply illustration techniques to clearly communicate design ideas. We're one of the few firms in the Sacramento area using three dimensional computer modeling to illustrate and virtually tour new projects.
Sketching by hand forms the basis for our initial designs. Drawing by hand is faster and easier for developing initial ideas than any computerized process.
Once we've arrived at a design, we scan it into the computer and apply state of the art three dimensional modeling to visualize the new project, complete with shadows specific to the project location.
When we've illustrated the new design concept (or concepts) in plan view and with perspective drawings, we meet with you to present the new landscape and then again to brainstorm the final design based on your feedback. Following this meeting, we transfer the finalized design to the computer for final refinement, then prepare construction drawings that will be used to build the new landscape.
Both principals have masters degrees in landscape architecture from Cal Poly, Pomona and are licensed landscape architects in the state of California. In addition to these degrees, one partner has a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from ESAJ in Paris, France. The other has a degree in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz. As far as we know, we’re the only Sacramento area landscape design team with education, training and experience in France.
We’ve lectured at UC Davis in the landscape architecture department and continue to speak about landscape architecture and about new ideas in design.
The profession & the community
We’re involved in the profession of landscape architecture and design in other ways, too. Mike was the webmaster for the local chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) web site. Annette served on the chapter’s board of directors. Mike was chapter president in 2007. Mike is a past member of the APLD.
Annette is a past volunteer at the gardens at the American River Water Education Center (ARWEC) in Folsom. The center focuses on water education and best landscaping practices for conserving water. Both principals participate in the center’s lecture program as lecturing landscape architects and designers.
Both principals participate in community charrettes, where design professionals team up with city or county officials and citizens to dream up designs for local communities. Check the news section of the site for infomation on current pro-bono projects.
Mike and Annette frequently give public presentations to educate people in various aspects of sustainable design, including basic principles, planting design and maintenance. If you would like us to speak at your event, please contact us.
We've spoken to large audiences at the Modesto Architectural Festival, and at the national American Society of Landscape Architects Annual Meeting in Phoenix and Boston.
Where we work
Our office is located in Sacramento, in California's Central Valley. We'll go wherever we're wanted, however. We've worked on projects all around Northern California, with some fun in Central California on the coast, some more tropical designs in Southern California and even farther away, from France to Ethiopia.
Since we've lived and worked in a variety of climates (and cultures) there's no reason we couldn't create something wonderful far from Sacramento.
We speak French, Spanish, a little German and of course, English - something that definitely facilitates interaction both here and abroad.
Where we've been
We both lived and worked in France. Contemporary design in France might not be what you think: imagine flower-filled meadows and rain gardens. Not Versailles.
Although Mike lived and worked in France, his main projects were elsewhere: a planning study in Jordan, lighting design for the Bâtiment des forces motrices in Geneva, a historic site in Beirut, Taman Suropati in Jakarta, sketches for the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Abeba, with some studies in Mexico and Eastern Europe.
When we travel, we try to visit new landscapes - when we're not simply walking around and looking at how people live.
Mexico has a great landscape architecture society that meets every other year. We've attended two of their conferences - in Mexico City and Monterrery and both were great experiences full of new technology and innovative design ideas.
We develop design ideas and devlop concepts on tracing paper. This is one place where computers have not made things more efficient. It's still faster, easier to change a line by scribbling over the old one, and it's more fun, too.
Once we have something that works, we scan it into the computer, set it to scale and refine the design with 3D modeling and CAD.
We can present from the original paper sketches, once they've been scanned into the computer and cleaned up. Tracing them and transforming them into 3D models is another possibility, kind of magic to see the design emerge from the surface of the "paper".
All this takes a bit of software, and there's no single application that works for everything. Here's what we're using now:
Photo processing: Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, Pixelmator.
Page Layout: Pages 09 (the new version is almost useless for this!), iDraw, VectorWorks.
Web Site: Freeway Pro and Exhibeo. These programs let us put this site together like graphic designers instead of forcing us to code like geeks.
Vector Illustration: Vectorworks, iDraw.
Raster Illustration: SketchBook Pro, Pixelmator, Procreate (in the field).
CAD: VectorWorks. We can read and write AutoCAD files, with the added benefit that the software has database functions that let us count plants, fixtures, etc. automatically.
3D modeling: SketchUp Pro.
Database: FileMaker Pro. This is useful for tracking the performance of our plants, tracking jobs, anything that used to be done in a filing cabinet.
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Information given in this web site is for advice only, and is subject to change without notice. Consult with us or another qualified professional if you have specific questions.