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Garden Design

MIFGS 2012 show gardens – a student’s perspective

Amongst the entrants in Landscaping Victoria’s student competition to design a ‘sense garden’ for the 2012 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, wewere the shortlisted four whose gardens were realised. Catherine Stewart reviewed

Ross Uebergang’s ‘Eden’, winner of the Don Fleming Student Design Award (photo Ross Uebergang)

our gardens here, and has requested a follow up post narrating our experiences at the show. We invite you to comment and contact us at the end of reading our perspective.

Ross Uebergang and Esther Sugihto

http://rossu.com.au/ http://socialdesigner.com.au/

Rourke Hartwig’s ‘The Illusionist’ (photo Esther Sugihto)

Why be involved?

Apart from being the largest garden show in the southern hemisphere, MIFGS is the best way to market ourselves as progressive landscape designers. In an industry that is predominantly referral based, the exposure is exemplary, but further to that, we choose to push the boundaries of accepted garden design stereotypes. A competition like this allows us to polish our design skills as they translate into built form – we would be mad to not take advantage of it!

Phillip Withers ‘The Gift’ (photo Esther Sugihto)

What did we learn?

The saying ‘there is no ‘I’ in team’ rang true during this period – collaboration was entirely necessary to achieve a big project, whether it be contractors, suppliers, sponsors, fellow student exhibitors, friends and family. These gardens were simply unachievable without everyone’s assistance, as was the need to adapt and compromise to improve each design. The eventual winner, Ross Uebergang, felt ‘I built a lot of good partnerships that really paid off when it got towards the end of the week – the site was not even nearly finished!’ It helps to maintain good relationships always.

Esther Sughito ‘Coffee Street’ (photo Esther Sugihto)

What was good?

We were privileged to have the support and encouragement of many professional bodies, from our nursery supplier, Plantmark, to each contractor who came on board to realise our vision, to the incidental conversations with other landscape designers and industry folk exhibiting at the show. Coupled with media exposure and the opportunity to project manage the construction of a progressive garden design – the experience has stretched our abilities indeed.

What would we change?

As mentioned earlier, collaboration is key. Further to this – early collaboration is even better! Asking for help earlier in the design process or during detail development would have alleviated the hectic rush at the end. Then again, as designers, we are always finessing during the final stages as each design could always be refined further.

Ross Uebergang’s ‘Eden’, winner of the Don Fleming Student Design Award (photo Ross Uebergang)

Where do we go from here?

Each of us have varied directions of where to take our individual design practices.

  • Watch for RossU Design and Landscape in future, as he continues to establish himself in the landscape design industry and exhibit at a future Chelsea Garden Show.
  • Phillip Withers Landscape Design will service both the Melbourne and coastal markets and showcase his unique combination of complementary built hardscaping and horticultural selection.
  • Rourke Hartwig, the lone interstate representative from Sydney, has delivered a breathtaking garden of experiential design – we look forward to witnessing his acute design sensibilities and breadth of horticultural knowledge translate in upcoming garden designs up north.
  • Esther Sugihto, practising as an architect, is looking to integrate landscape and architecture earlier in the process to result in a more holistic built form that blurs the line of inside and out.


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Catherine Stewart
12 years ago

How refreshing to hear of designers working in collaboration rather than competition! Generosity to your industry, as well as sharing knowledge and contacts with colleagues, is the best way to increase your own expertise and grow your business. Let’s hope entrants for the MIFGS 2013 design competition follow your lead. Do you feel that the competition rules/judging are encouraging and/or allowing for really experimental new design? I’m not suggesting that ‘out there’ is necessarily any better than something more obviously ‘gardeny’, just different. But it’s been a while since we had a MIFGS garden like Jenny Smith’s 2008 design, a homage to Martha Schwartz that featured suspended tyres, fake grass columns and garden gnomes – a ‘garden’ that was both wondrously whacky and awesomely awful and yet somehow really well-designed, all at the same time. Maybe show goers and journos like me have become too conventional…..