Plagiarism is alive and well

Looking for design inspiration and your USP


One of the first things I recommend to students (or even qualified designers for that matter) before they start a new design, is to look through books and magazines for design inspiration.

When my student from the Oxford College of Garden Design first start designing, their ‘design library’ i.e. their knowledge of shape, pattern, and garden features stored in their brains, is pretty much empty, so the only way they can fill it, is to expose themselves to as much content as possible.

Magazines such as Gardens Illustrated and English Garden are recommend reading as too is the Society of Garden Designers magazine ‘The Garden Design Journal’ edited by the excellent Tim Richardson. The designer is looking for two specific things at this early stage

  • A Floor Plan: Ideas for shapes and patterns that will fit into their new garden. This can be achieved by studying garden layout plans in books and online. Students are looking for strong ground patterns with good inter-locking shapes that, after a little modification could transpose well into their own design.
  • The Magic Feature: Secondly that little bit of magic that sets their design apart from everyone else’s. This in marketing terms would be your USP (unique selling point) It could be a sculpture or water feature or even built in furniture, but whatever it is, it should be the wow factor. Something the client is going to love, is unique and if the garden was to appear in a magazine would be the main picture to illustrate the article.

Books are another excellent source of inspiration and students should be studying not just garden/landscape design but architecture and interior design as well. Books written by garden designer John Brookes, or Terrance Conran are excellent sources of inspirations, so to is Barber Hunt and Elizabeth Whateley’s book ‘Aspects of the Garden Design Process’

By seeking inspiration from the past, modifying and adapting it to make it their own, students will gradually develop their own design philosophy, and aspire to take it into the future.