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Sources of Inspiration; Respecting the Process

I am occasionally asked how I keep coming up with design ideas for the various seasonal displays Wellfield presents each year.

I often mentally freeze up as a design deadline approaches, and I feel like I do not have a real hit. But then I remember the words of my landscape design professor at Michigan State University that I have found very helpful: There is rarely a completely new idea under the sun, rather just borrowed and re-synthesized ones. In other words, relax and look around you at other designs for an idea you can borrow and throw into the blender along with other ideas.

What landscapes, and landscape features, inspire you? Analyze and extract the essence of the design and run with it. I also often receive from the public, staff and volunteers suggestions that serve as a springboard from which I can explore a concept. When I have a possible concept, I turn to Google and Pinterest to see what is out there from which I can borrow and adapt.

Another thing I have learned about the design process relates to what I call the “dark early days of uncertainty,” which proceed the light of inspiration. There is often a considerable period of time, long before I approach the design table, where I sit with a design problem, letting it roll around in my head, and consider it from multiple angles. This can be frustrating, and I sometimes feel like I am not making progress and doing any real work, but the truth is I am picking up one idea after another, seeing if it fits the situation or greases the mental wheels. Inevitably, something emerges from the chaos of forming something from nothing, and a new creation is born.

Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager

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