Tag Archives: gardens

Art + Nature Collaborations

A piece from the Hakona Open Air Museum. Via A.K.A. Wayward.

I think within every artist are two desires that smolder alongside their fiery passion to create — mastery and immortality.

First, they want to be good at what they do, whether it be painting, writing, or playing the cello. They generally aspire to achieve an optimum level of expertise. This means mastering their skills, and conquering, mastering, controlling their medium, making pigments, words, or sounds obey and do their bidding. Even in spontaneity and exuberance, in improvisation and working on the fly, all such actions always tend toward taming the paint or marble, coaxing it into submission.

And then what artist doesn’t want to live on through their works? Even though they do tend to be their own worst critics, and want to banish from existence all works that are considered sub-par, the creations that survive this merciless judgment –these they want to live on — at least past their lifetimes, if not forever. These masterpieces are wrought from their minds and souls, brought forth from their depths not without difficulty, usually with much anguish. It is but natural instinct to want to preserve the perfection of their works and protect them from destruction.

For all these reasons I feel great admiration for the artists behind the installations featured in today’s post. They are hugely ambitious in scope and scale of their works, but they relinquish control of what their art will ultimately become. They give up any hope for their works’ longevity in engaging in a kind of partnership with a very unpredictable, temperamental and ever-shifting collaborator — Mother Nature. They do their part, and allow their partner the freedom to finish it, and to eventually take it apart and ingest it. It seems awfully counter-intuitive, to surrender the products of their efforts to the elements, but there’s something achingly beautiful and infinitely joyful and transcendent about the letting go, the embracing of the unknown, the acceptance that everything is fleeting and transitory.

Via Photography Heat

Yarn Bombing - by B-Arbeiten. Via Street Art Utopia.

There’s so much playful exuberance in this work of “yarn bombing”. I can imagine the joy that it brings to all who see it.

By Jonna Pohjalainen - In Turku, Finland. Via Street Art Utopia.

The logs turned giant color pencils, bring a touch of rustic whimsy to the landscape.

Via Le Cahier Josephine

More woodsy cuteness!

By Dimitri Xenakis via Around Homes

Via Photography Heat

Found this really funny and quite brilliant. Who says art has to be all serious?

By Jason de Caires via Inhabitat

By Jason de Caires via Inhabitat

These last couple of pieces deserve special mention. They started out as sculptures made of cement created by Jason de Caires. What they eventually became are coral reefs and homes for various species of marine life. De Caires has placed many of his works in the ocean, making a vast underwater sculpture garden, which Nature has indeed put its own spin on, adding color and texture to the sculptor’s various figures.


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Quiet Time

Via Vladimir de Thezier

This week I came across this in my Facebook feed: Stop the glorification of busy. I don’t know where or who it came from — it’s one of those things that have spread virally. But the post that I saw came with a link to this NY Times column by Tim Kreider on the perils of perpetual busyness and the human person’s need for idle time. It resonated so much with me. I admittedly am naturally inclined toward indolence, and I don’t like it when I get too busy to do the things I like to do — like indulge in my hobbies, spend time with people I love, and especially, stare into space and do absolutely nothing. And a statement from the article put so succinctly why these do-nothing periods ought to be prized and protected:

“The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration…”

Idle time provides the necessary incubation period for random nebulous thoughts and experiences to fly around freely and ultimately come together in those breakthrough “Eureka!” moments that spur inventions, discoveries, and other movements that change the world. Kreider further wrote that ironically, we need idle time to get things done.

This week happens to be one for “idle” time — as in time of prayer and no work. It’s Passover week in Judaism, and in many Christian cultures, it’s Holy Week. Here in the Philippines, Holy Thursday and Good Friday are non-working holidays, and most commercial and leisure establishments are closed, and all other activity in the city seems rather muted. Well this could be because a lot of folks have fled to the beaches for the long weekend. But for many others, it’s time for spending time with family, doing visita iglesia, and/or retreating into reflection and prayer.

Midori posted some ideas some time ago on Carving Out Quiet Space, and it’s a great read. For today’s post I thought I’d share with you some more inspiration for your own quiet nook in which to spend your quiet time.

Via Homedit

An enclosed space would be ideal, if only to minimize the outside world intruding into your sanctum. The image above is of the interior of the beautiful Tree of Life Chapel in Portugal. While it may not be practical or feasible to construct an entirely new building, the warm, welcoming wood and the graphic lines may be something that you want to apply to your room.

From Designation: Unknown and Embracing my Inner Wonder Woman Along the Way

But you don’t need to occupy an entire room, a corner will do, as in this space which only includes a chair, a side table, and a few visual pieces.

By Tom Spencer via Soul of the Garden

It doesn’t even have to be a corner! This window sill does beautifully.

All that silence and nothingness can seem intimidating for the perennially busy. An element that facilitates some sort of activity that goes hand-in-hand with the introspection could be just the thing.

Via 24-7 Prayer

This here is a “prayer tree” which you can look at or stick with prayers and names of family members you want to pray for. Click on the image for more ideas like it.

Via Fine Art America

Gardens make awesome prayer spaces. Nothing recharges and gets you in touch with your life than life itself springing forth from the earth.

Via My Walworth County

Here’s a novel idea, at least for me — labyrinths. These are not meant to confuse or make one lost, but rather serve as paths for quiet walks. These walks are said to quiet the mind, restore balance and relieve stress. They can be indoors or outdoors, and as big or as small as space allows.

Via UUWorld.org

Via Tribe

So here’s to some quiet alone time! May the concerns of work and chores not encroach on yours!


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Heaven on Earth: The Canadian Embassy in Tokyo

Next weekend Canadians around the world will be celebrating our national holiday and those lucky enough to score an invite to their local embassy will enjoy a spectacular party. If I could pick one city to experience this, it would be Tokyo, if only to get to see the remarkable complex designed by Raymond Moriyama of Toronto’s Moriyama and Teshima Architects.

Photo: Move and Stay

Moriyama’s personal story is as interesting as the buildings he designs. During World War II, his father was sent to a POW camp in Ontario, while Moriyama and his mother were detained in a Japanese internment facility in British Columbia. He was further alienated by the other children at the camp, who teased him about his scars from an earlier accident. He built himself a tree house as a refuge, which would later serve as the inspiration for the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo.

Photo: Moriyama and Teshima Architects

The glass roof of the embassy rises out of the lush foliage of the adjacent Akasaka Imperial Grounds and Takahashi Memorial Park. Moriyama envisioned the glass-enclosed upper floors (the embassy) as heaven, with the bottom three floors (leased offices) representing earth.

(Photo: Moriyama and Teshima Architects)

The fourth floor terrace, which is open to the public, links the two and symbolises the harmonious meeting place of the Japanese and Canadian peoples. To access this peaceful area one ascends a glass-enclosed escalator through the treetops, just as Moriyama escaped the discord of his youth.

Photo: A Fish Out of Water

The terrace encircles the building and illustrates aspects of the Canadian landscape through Japanese stone gardening techniques. Its designer, Shunmyo Masuno, is one of the few Zen priests who still practices ishi-tate-so, stone setting originally performed by itinerant priests of the Heian and Kamakura periods.A Japanese stone garden depicting Canada

Photo: A Fish Out of Water

For this project Masuno used roughly cut rock from Hiroshima to represent the bedrock of the Canadian Shield. A traditional Inuit inukshuk balances at one corner, symbolising the northern part of the country.

Photo: City Photos

Three peaked pyramids embody the Rocky Mountains of the west.

Photo: Graham Cooper’s Project Japan: Architecture and Art Media, Edo to Now,
via The Japan Society

A small water feature exemplifies the Pacific Ocean and links the Canadian elements with Japan, represented by the traditional raked gravel of Zen gardens.

Photo: Gap Photos

According to Masuno’s design philosophy, “the garden is a special spiritual place in which the mind dwells.” For visitors and locals alike, the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo offers both a beautiful respite from the hectic urban environment and a place to contemplate the history and cultures of both countries through the visionary design of Raymond Moriyama and Shunmyo Masuno.


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Hammocks: How’s It Hanging?

Image via Jen Kan on Pinterest

Temperature: 36 degrees Celsius. Humidity: 66%.

It’s hot and steamy over here! Moving a muscle a tiniest bit has dire and sweaty consequences. With weather like this, I just want to spend the afternoon  lying still and doing nothing, except for loading up on icy liquids and listening to some bossa nova. It’s probably the best way to stay sane. Of course it would be awesome if I had a gorgeous hammock to languidly while the time away in.

For something that could hold a person’s entire length, a hammock is indeed a wonderful little bit of nothing — it’s basically twine and air! The word “hammock” itself comes from a word which means “fish net”. Such a strong yet lightweight engineering marvel it is.

And there’s nothing quite like lazing on a hammock. You’re hanging by a few threads, and lying on air. And as you’re suspended on it, it swings and rocks you in a gentle, lulling way that sets you off to a lovely oblivion.

There are a lot of strong, sturdy, utilitarian hammocks out there that soldiers and jungle adventurers use, but I have a thing for the pretty ones. Get a load of these dreamy hammocks!

Image from blushingapples.tumblr.com

Image via Beachcomber

I totally love the sweet, romantic vibe of these crocheted babies!

Nest Hammock by Ieva Laurina

This fringe-y hammock is designed by Latvian designer Ieva Laurina. I find this so playful and fun, and it must look positively magical when it moves!

Noah, a soft plastic hammock by D Vision. Image via Design Milk.

Wood Hammock by Adam Cornich

The 2 pieces above have veered away from the typical woven hammock, and taken a modern spin on it. But even when they’re made of plastic and wood, they both retain the airiness and swingy-ness that we love.

For those who don’t have the trees and posts from which to hang a hammock, here are some that are “self-supporting” — i.e., they come with their own stand.

The Wave Hammock, designed by Erik Nyberg & Gustav Ström

And what of this gravity-defying floating marvel? The Wave Hammock is canopy and hammock in one, and the entire structure is supported in a comparatively tiny base.

Image via Furniture Fashion

Although it’s got that sleek, modern look, this reminds me of the traditional hammocks here in the Philippines, which are really human-sized woven baskets.

Chesapeake hammock. Via Apartment Therapy.

The Hansa Hammock. Image via Houzz.

Floating bed


Posted in Design | Tagged , ,

Japanese Garden Design for Beginners

Aomori Mori Japanese Garden DesignImage via Aomori Mori

Are you planning a major landscaping project this summer?  Maybe you’ve moved into a new home or just want to give your backyard a makeover.  One of the more popular garden design styles is the Japanese inspired garden, and for good reason.   The appeal of the Japanese style garden is that it fosters a feeling of seclusion, relaxation and calmness, giving you a peaceful retreat from the hectic pace and stress of the everyday. Another wonderful aspect of this style is its overall versatility; it works in both small and large spaces. There are a number of elements you can pick and choose from when landscaping, here are a few that you may consider.

Use of rocks in a Japanese Gardenimage via bhg

Rock Steady

Japanese rock gardens are a traditional mode of garden design that often use a combination of rocks and plants to create a space of balance using natural elements. For a minimalist zen garden you may choose to use primarily rocks, or if you want to get closer to mimicking nature you can create lush plantscapes that feature islands of rock.

Greentea Design's antique rustic planterRustic Planter from Greentea Design

Green Appeal

Evergreens, ornamental grasses, bonsai trees and full-sized trees are often found in Japanese gardens. Try if you can to pick a variety of plants that will last throughout the year so your garden will be as beautiful in the fall as it is in the spring. Rustic planters like the one from Greentea pictured above are also a way to add some natural beauty and interest to your landscaping.

Fountain or water element in Japanese Garden DesignImage via grace design

Let it Flow

The traditional Japanese garden often includes a water feature such as a fountain with basin or a pond. The sound of running water helps create a soothing atmosphere. A koi pond is also a way to add a peaceful ambience, but in order to keep the fish happy and the pond beautiful a great deal of maintenance and care is required. Here are some useful tips on maintaining a koi pond.

A teahouse in a Japanese Gardenimage via Koi Cymru

Architecturally Sound

A teahouse is often the central building in a traditional garden, but Japanese inspired architecture can be incorporated in many different ways: lanterns, bridges, benches, gates and pagodas. Pay attention to how lines of architectural pieces work with the plants you’ve chosen

The Portland Japanese Gardenimage via Portland Japanese Garden

There are a number of Japanese gardens all over the world that are an excellent source of inspiration, so you may choose to start your garden planning after visiting a few large scale gardens. I’ve always wanted to go to the Portland Japanese Garden pictured above.

Happy Friday Everyone!


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