The NOT New Trend: Garden Fireplaces

I read this article in the NY Times today about fireplaces in the garden.  They said that fireplaces are the poor mans swimming pool and that hotelier Andre Balazs and interior designer Johanthan Adler started the trend with designs for hotels that opened in 2007 and 2004 respectively.   I have just a little bone to pick here.  While I wholeheartedly agree that trends for the home garden often build off those started in hospitality properties (I have said that before here) and I think that Johnathan Adler and Andre Balazs are creating really great and interesting destinations (I have said that before here and here)  I think it is wholly unfair to give these two credit for a trend that was actually started not by hoteliers and interior designers but by landscape and garden designers. I designed my first outdoor fireplace for a home garden in 2002 and I can assure you that my clients and I were not some sort of trend setters.  Fire features were at the Chelsea flower show years before.

What gets me here is the regular and consistent placing of landscape and garden designers as second fiddle and not the true design professionals and artists that they are.  Like other design professionals, garden designers and landscape designers can be quite edgy and arty (think Tony Heywood, Martha Schwartz, and Diarmuid Gavin),  glamorous and fashionable (think CZ Guest, Arabella Lennox Boyd, and Gabriela Yariv) and truly forward thinking (think Patrick Blanc and Topher Delaney).  What irks me is that so often roof gardens, terraces and other intimate outdoor places are designed by interior designers or architects (often to great initial visual success) but almost always to disastrous long term effects (plants that won’t survive, materials that won’t hold up, etc.).  The message is anyone can put together a garden just like anyone can put together and room in a house. Yes, anyone can, but if you want to be successful at it you need to do your homework, or hire a professional.   I am tired of other design professionals getting all the kudos for what landscape professionals do better (and first) .   Do you agree?

At least the article featured this lovely fireplace by Jay Griffith – an actual landscape designer.

Jay Griffin foreplace from new yor times article in brentwood california

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6 Responses to The NOT New Trend: Garden Fireplaces

  1. I agree, everyone should stick at what they’re good at. I would never attempt to design an interior, why should an interior designer design a garden? We don’t just add the plants after the other professions have made all the important decisions!

  2. Wow. I think I designed my first outdoor fireplace in 96′ and I definately wasn’t for a “poor man”. I definately wasn’t the trend setter either.

    I think Landscape Architects have the same issue with Architects and Engineers making some of the design decisions and many times being clearly out of their element.

    On the other hand, that hanging lamp / chandelier has me worried. ;-)

  3. oh–and I want to make sure it is noted…my favorite projects are those where I get to COLLABORATE with other design pros – of all walks…..always the project is so much better for the client and fun overall.

  4. Thanks or referring to my daughter-Gabriela Yariv-in your blog on outdoor fireplaces.. That definitely proves that you are a person of discerning taste. While we are at it,please ask her to send you photos of the succulents ,cacti and rock desert garden (cum pool)she designed for our home in Pasadena,CA. That certainly could not have been done by a 5th Ave,or a Rodeo Drive, interior decorator.
    Impartial parent

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