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 fireplace from new york times article in brentwood california

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.

6 Comments

  1. Claire on February 26, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    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. Bill on February 26, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    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. rochelle on February 27, 2009 at 7:21 am

    yes, while I love the look of the chandelier…I too have so many questions about it…

  4. rochelle on March 4, 2009 at 11:49 am

    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.

  5. Fireplaces on March 9, 2009 at 3:32 am

    The picture of garden fireplace
    is really nice! I also believe that the landscape designers are arty and forward thinking.

  6. Amnon Yariv on August 5, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    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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