Want to know a little more about what makes our designers tick? Today’s Q&A is with our Owner and Landscape Designer Jaime English. Read on!
When do you feel most creative?
When I am laughing. That’s when I lose all fear of trying something new.
What inspires you as a landscape designer?
I love the beauty of our natural environment, yet it is the people that I design for and with that bring me the most inspiration.
What is your professional background?
I graduated from the University of Oregon in 2005 with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. I’ve studied the gardens of emperors and monks in Japan, and reveled in the public plazas, pedestrian-friendly cities, and palatial gardens of Europe. I interned with the Vancouver Clark Parks department in 2004 and began work at the award-winning environmental and landscape design firm GreenWorks, in Portland in 2005, where I worked on a variety of high-quality restoration, stormwater, and public park projects. Meanwhile I made a hobby of dreaming up adventures in foreign lands, and in 2008 I jumped at the opportunity to work for the Atelier Dreiseitl in Ueberlingen, Germany. I worked on international design projects while living in a quaint little German town community, and traveled throughout Europe whenever time allowed.
What brought you to Kahoots?
After working on several major international projects I became intensely aware of how such large-scale projects leave the artist disconnected from the communities their work is meant to serve. I learned that I am most passionate about design at the local level, working directly with the people and the landscape that will be impacted by my design choices. It was this revelation that started the planning process for Kahoots. I love collaborating with my colleagues and clients in a way that nurtures my creativity and passion for design.
What is one of your most memorable projects?
Working on the master plan for Sr. Crawford Memorial Park in Vancouver Washington, while at GreenWorks. Sr. Crawford was a beloved police officer who was killed in the line of duty. We collaborated with his family in the design process and presented them with three design alternatives that reflected the loving and playful spirit of the father, husband, and brother their community remembered. They were so touched to see that a landscape design could celebrate their loved one and shared with us how much it meant to them to see beauty and life born out of tragedy. It was then that I first realized what a powerful, personal impact my work could have. This project was more than simply designing for a client – it was a way to help a family and a community grieve, celebrate, and move forward.
Any landscape design pet peeves?
I can’t stand parking lot shrubs that have been clipped into balls when the design intent was obviously to create a massing of plants that grow and blend together. I talk a lot with clients about changing maintenance practices and giving plants enough room to grow in the first place. I like nature to look like nature!
Of course every design rule has its exception. I still drool over this image I took in Versaille.
Growing up I never cleaned my room, I rearranged! It was so much more interesting to go from a messy toy- and clothes-strewn room to one that was totally different from the last time I saw it clean. To this day, I rearrange my furniture whenever I need a change of perspective. I can find every possible arrangement for a space no matter how many mismatched furnishings I have to fit in it. The more constraints, the more surprisingly fabulous the result! Maybe that’s why I like building code so much…