Roderick Wyllie of Surfacedesign takes us on a journey into high-end residential landscaping with ideas for integrating beautiful garden design into our daily lives.
ICONIC LIFE is all about highlighting innovators and influencers in the design world. From modern interior design to sustainable architecture, we love everything that goes into living beautifully. But as we’re spending more and more time indoors during these unusual times, it’s important to nurture our connections with nature.
People are really wanting to make sure that the garden is totally integrated with their living environment because they're at home, and I don't see that going away.
Our publisher talked with Roderick Wyllie of the San Francisco-based landscape architecture and urban design firm Surfacedesign, on her podcast ICONIC HOUR with Renee Dee to learn more about bringing the outside world into our new daily lives,
The award-winning practice focuses on creating dynamic parks, plazas, waterfronts, civic landscapes and private garden ideas that cultivate a sense of connection to the built and natural world and push people to engage with the landscape in new ways.
“This whole concept of bringing the outside in is a trend that’s been with us for a while. Biophilic design and having plant walls and bringing more greenery into our spaces has really started to move to the forefront of the conversation,” Wylie said.
Creating small garden design concepts for certain clients has informed spaces in the firm’s larger projects. As a result, Surfacedesign approaches projects, regardless of size, with a scale of intimacy. Wylie explained that the fatal flaw of large-scale designs—for example, a campus-wide project—is losing the true feeling of intimacy that nature provides.
Aligning with Surfacedesign’s approach to quality design that evokes positive emotion, rather than simply creating larger-than-life displays, the United States Department of Agriculture determined that “the quality of the green space—measured in terms of variety of plants, maintenance, orderly arrangement, absence of litter, and general impression—mattered more than the quantity of green space in promoting social cohesion in the neighborhood.”
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With working from home becoming more a norm than a trial period, people are looking for ways to surround themselves with nature elements without having to leave home. The good news—a beautiful garden design makes it so that you don’t have to leave your property.
“People are really wanting to make sure that the garden is totally integrated with their living environment because they’re at home, and I don’t see that going away. It feels like the work environment might morph a little bit to allow people to be at home more, which then means that things really need to be maximized,” Wyllie said. “Let’s say people are working two or three days a week at home. Well, those two or three days, being able to get out or have a phone conversation outside during that day is pretty important.”
In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright: “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."
According to Positive Psychology, a strong connection to the natural environment—in this case, your stunning garden design—enhances emotional well-being and alleviates feelings of social isolation. Additional studies have found that time spent in nature provides a wealth of mental benefits, from increased cognitive performance and well-being to alleviation of mental health illnesses.
“There are pretty significant studies about the impact of being in nature on people’s cognitive abilities. I have observed that, over and over again, people find themselves in the garden that we’ve designed and intuitively know the benefits that they’re going to receive from it,” Wyllie said.
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“A devious scheme on my part is to get them into their gardens and interact with them. A little bit of weeding here and there, or harvesting your tomatoes, and then, all of a sudden, the connection to nature becomes a lot deeper.”
As we develop a deeper desire to spend time with stunning, natural elements, it begs the question of why it took stay-at-home orders to encourage new landscaping endeavors such as garden design ideas. Wyllie inferred that people are afraid of embarking on landscape projects, whether big or small, because they’re worried about the maintenance and not knowing everything.
However, he explained that these ideas have been around for years, illustrated in cities like Tuscany, which has climactic analogues on the west coast of the United States. There is a precedent for how we think about gardens and materials, both plant-specific and otherwise.
Regardless of previous reservations, we strongly believe that people should look outside in order to reap the internal benefits. There are plenty of sources of inspiration for taking a leap into the realm of garden design and inspiration for garden ideas. Why not start now?
In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright: “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
In an ever-increasing noisy world, the sounds of silence are rising up everywhere lately.
With text notifications, music, and sensory input coming from all directions, we’re overloaded and it’s not healthy. In an effort to quiet the mind and the environment, silence is becoming a necessity for these spa destinations.
In England, a fitness chain launched silent hours with no announcements or music, and retail store Asda Living, offers quiet shopping hours with no music, TV displays or even escalators. Taking silence almost to the extreme, Japanese restaurant chain Ichiran, which just opened an outlet in Brooklyn, offers silent dining where solo diners sit facing a wall, with no interaction with hosts or waiters—a light shows open tables and ordering is done electronically. Even airports, one of the noisiest experiences around, are trying to get in on the silent trend. The Barcelona, Warsaw and Helsinki airports have stopped blaring announcements, with flight communication provided via silent kiosks, displays and texts.
Speaking of Helsinki, the entire country of Finland jumped on the silent bandwagon turning it into a selling point with a tourism campaign called “Silence, Please” promoting Finland’s silence and stillness. “When you have the tourism board of a country choosing it as a promotion strategy, it’s pretty indicative [that silence is important],” says Susie Ellis, CEO and Chairman of the Global Wellness Institute.
Two hours of silence daily increased cell development in the hippocampus, the region of the brain centered on memory, depression and dementia.
L'Apothecary Spa, L'Auberge de Sedona
It turns out that from a health standpoint, silence truly is golden. A 2013 Duke University study found that two hours of silence daily increased cell development in the hippocampus, the region of the brain centered on memory, depression and dementia.
It makes sense that the best spa destinations are leading the silent charge. “Spas are one of the last places in modern society where people can go to disconnect,” says Jeremy McCarthy, Group Director of Spa & Wellness for Mandarin Oriental Hotels.
Here are a few standout spa destinations where you can get some R&R in complete silence:
The Landmark, Mandarin Oriental
THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL
For the fourth year, Mandarin Oriental hotels across the globe host Silent Night this December 12. For one night the entire spa goes quiet—no talking, no music and no social media communication from the hotel, all in an effort to give people the disconnection needed for quiet contemplation.
“In the digital era of streaming content, we rarely give our minds a chance to rest,” says McCarthy. “Silence is one of the luxuries of the modern age and the latest spa trend. We want to give our spa guests a chance to truly disconnect while in the spa and explore the inner workings of their own mind.”
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Lake Austin Spa & Resort
LAKE AUSTIN SPA RESORT
The Lake Austin Spa in Austin, Texas employs Blue Mind philosophy to silence the outside world and quiet the Red Mind. Blue Mind philosophy is rooted in science, and uses the proven calming power of water to relax the “Red Mind”, a state of agitation, edginess and stress that most of us spend our daily lives stuck in.
Neuroscience has found that the brain naturally relaxes around water and takes on an almost an involuntary dream state. The spa, which is on the shores of Lake Austin, offers more than 30 Blue Mind activities like the Blue Mind Eco Paddle, Blue Mind Yoga, Lake Fit group exercise classes and Driftaway, a unique floating meditation.
Lake Austin Spa & Resort
“Silence itself has a relaxing effect on our brains. Although our brains are never completely silent, by omitting external sound and immersing in the auditory embrace of water, we plunge our minds into a deeper place of relaxation, recovery and back to our natural ‘default mode’ the place that allows insight, ‘a-ha moments’, creativity and mental breakthroughs,” says Director of Fitness, Outdoor and Lake Activities, Cindy Present.
In the spa itself, water is used in several treatments to achieve similar results. One of the most unique services is the Aquatic Craniosacral service, which uses the healing properties of water to help rebalance the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid. The water, coupled with the therapist’s light touch produces a deeply relaxing and healing effect.
L'Apothecary Spa, L'Auberge de Sedona
L’APOTHECARY SPA AT L’AUBERGE DE SEDONA
The beautiful scenery combined with the Zen vibe already make Sedona, Arizona an ideal place for reflection. Add in the Quiet Mind treatment at L’Apothecary Spa at L’Auberge de Sedona and you have the perfect spiritual retreat. The service is perfect for Type As who have trouble relaxing and are just starting to let go just when a standard 60-minute treatment is winding down. Before the massage, the therapist guides you in breath work and meditation designed to calm the mind, bringing awareness to each point of the body. Soothing scents of Bird of Paradise and Passion Flower are used to help the client relax. By quieting the mind, the body begins descends into a deep state of relaxation before the first massage stroke, making the actual massage more beneficial and the top of the spa trends for 2020.
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The Six Senses spa at the luxurious Alpina Grand in Gstaad, Switzerland is taking silence beyond the spa into all aspects of the hotel with its Silent Stay program. The idea is to replace speaking with silence to see how that shift causes you to reinterpret your environment. The tranquil mountain location makes an ideal setting to try it out this latest spa destination trend. Guests simply wear a bracelet or badge to let the staff know that they are taking part in the program, and any necessary communication is done via writing.
Hedon Spa & Hotel
HEDON SPA & HOTEL
Traditionally, spa is about taking the waters, and the silent spa at the Hedon Spa & Hotel in Estonia is about doing just that in silence. The Silent Spa ritual is designed to last two or three hours and includes a tepidarium, a sauna room with salt in the air, a caldarium, an aroma steam with warm stone seats, a laconicum (dry sauna), salt and massage pools, footbaths, Finnish sauna and outdoor pool. Body care products are provided to enhance the quiet retreat experience.
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