Garden Design and Exploring Space

I don’t know about you, but I get a lot more emails than I used to. What with that and phone calls, like everyone else, I frequently find myself typing or sketching something at the dining room table at 10pm in order to meet a deadline. It is even worse now that I am trying to train for this damn three peaks malarky – now I have to fit in 150 miles a week on the bike, as well! I say to myself how much more I could get done if I just had another hour or so… Just imagine what I could achieve if I didn’t have to sleep! And like other people I see on the tube and the train (where I am sitting right now) I use all those little bits of time to check emails, go on twitter, write a blog etc.

Which is why you may find it strange that I am arguing that we should make some space in our busy lives to do nothing. Some of you might remember my previous piece entitled ‘Where do ideas come from?’ (10 May 2012) In this, I argued the importance of the right-hand half of the brain in creative activities, such as design. In the article, I quoted Mattias Konradsson – “Creativity and ideas don’t come on command, they seem to spring up when we least expect it”. For me that is often when I am staring into space. Or sitting on a train. Or driving. Or (this one is the most frequent) standing in the shower in the morning. Perhaps this last is the most revealing: the fact that the brain has been completely disengaged from everyday tasks for a few hours may leave it free to chew away at some problem that it hasn’t been able to address during the waking hours. A bit like when my laptop runs short of RAM, except that it doesn’t seem to go on working when I turn it off! Perhaps we all need to make a bit more space in our lives for doing nothing? Shift into neutral and idle for a while. We might be surprised at the results.

So, if you see me on the train, gazing out of the window; or nursing a cup of coffee and staring into space, just remember that I might be working on my next project…

How do you find space to think in a busy life?

5 responses on “Garden Design and Exploring Space

  1. Claire Pollard

    On the tube, on the way back from an initial consultation, I do some work but as I’m not in the usual working environment of the office, I pressurise myself less and manage to relax enough to release a train of creative thought…

    Good luck with the three peaks!

  2. Charles Waters

    As a wine trade professional many years ago my safety valve and stress release was time spent gardening- neutral territory in which to collect and marshall thoughts; solitary space where the plants didn’t ‘chirp’ back! Today, as a garden designer, a good walk or a soak in the bath offer the personal space that provides the creative answers….sometimes!

  3. Julia

    Don’t know whether you caught ‘Unbuilt Britain’ last night on Geoffrey Jellicoe’s Motopia? Anyway, lovely to see him, at a great big drawing board, involved in some render. Just standing at the drawing board helps me – I was thinking of getting rid of it but so much more helpful on the concentration stakes than a screen. I do agree about the long walk though.

    1. John Wyer Post author

      I didn’t catch it Julia – we were away in France. We still have two large drawing board in the office and one at home – despite a plethora of computers. I do try and encourage everybody to use them as I think all designs should start on the drawing board or sketch pad. I remember Will Allsop telling me that he always started every project by doing an abstract painting to channel his thoughts on form. I wonder if he ever showed them to the clients…

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