Konstantina StaraA little piece of Greece comes to Japan

My Greek garden, ‘Parea’ (Παρεα) is a garden to live in, to gather with friends and family. I had a lot of fun designing it. During the process, I was thinking about all my favorite things in Greece. All those happy memories are incorporated into the design. Cycladic island architecture is one strong feature of my garden. Another important aspect is Mediterranean plants. I wanted to use the plants that are most commonly found in Greek gardens.

'Parea' (Παρεα ) Design Konstantina Stara. First prize at the Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015

‘Parea’ (Παρεα ) Design Konstantina Stara. First prize at the Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015

I almost didn’t enter this competition. When I read the designer’s application for the first time, including the theme and the design guidelines, I instantly had an idea of how that Greek garden should be. In 10 minutes I did a rough sketch and half an hour later the concept was almost written. But I decided not to participate then and put my notebook aside! 2 weeks passed without doing anything. It was only 2 days before the first application deadline that I decided to participate. That inner voice was getting really annoying saying:

“you should do it, you will find time, you will make time!”

As I won first prize, I have learned that I should trust my inner voice a bit more!

'Parea' (Παρεα) Design Konstantina Stara. Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015

‘Parea’ (Παρεα) Design Konstantina Stara. Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015

But it was unfortunate that due to my work, I could only be in Japan for 3 days and I arrived at the Japan Flower and Garden Show on Friday afternoon just in time for the opening gala party. I would have liked to be there earlier, go to the nurseries with the contractor, select the plants, and help with the construction. Get my hands dirty! But fortunately for all that long-distance communication during the build I can speak Japanese. I actually lived in Tokyo for almost 3 years and did my MLA in Tokyo University of Agriculture (NODAI).

'Parea' (Παρεα) Design Konstantina Stara. Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015

‘Parea’ (Παρεα) Design Konstantina Stara. Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015

The reception in Greece to the news of my win has been fantastic. It is quite a surprise to me but it seems that this little Greek garden was actually big news for Greeks in this period of great recession. I have given quite a few interviews and was asked to talk about the garden and competition on TV! Many colleagues contacted me to say congratulations.

Although landscape design is not a new thing in Greece and there are plenty of professionals in my country, I think that many people outside the profession do not know that residential garden design is only a small part of what a landscape architect can do.

'Parea' (Παρεα) Design Konstantina Stara. Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015

‘Parea’ (Παρεα) Design Konstantina Stara. Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015

Right now I’m working in Thailand which is certainly a good experience. The quality of the design work is high. The rhythm of work is fast. At the moment there is an abundancy of projects in Thailand and neighboring countries. A good place to be for a Landscape Architect. I don’t really know what is next. I have a plan to return to Europe after a couple of years but life can be challenging and unpredictable. I will keep designing, dancing, traveling … that is what makes me happy.

'Parea' (Παρεα) Design Konstantina Stara. Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015

‘Parea’ (Παρεα) Design Konstantina Stara. Japan Flower and Garden Show 2015

If you’re just starting out in landscape design, I think it is very important to be in an environment that promotes creativity. Design, a lot. Travel as much as you can, watch art and theatre. Try not to overwork and exhaust yourself. A healthy balanced lifestyle will pay you back much more than late nights at the office. Learn to manage your time, start with important tasks first. Ask your seniors for advice. And do not afraid to be bold, to be different. You create your own path.

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Konstantina Stara

About Konstantina Stara

Konstantina Stara is a landscape architect and agronomist. Her rich educational background includes studies in Landscape Architecture, Plant Science and Agriculture Engineering. She received her professional license in 2006 and since then has been working in diverse cultural environments balancing Western and Eastern philosophy. She is currently working in Thailand with Landscape Architects of Bangkok on a variety of projects, mostly housing, residential and corporate, and in each step of the design, from concept to construction drawings.

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