In this year’s Oscar winning best picture, Parasite, I was struck by the contemporary beauty of the wealthy Park family’s home, which is just as much a character in the film as the actors. The rooms play an integral part of the story, advancing the narrative while showing the power of expert set design. In the movie, the view peers out to the exquisitely minimal, yet sculptural, thoroughly green garden, which not only serves as another room in the house for the actors to occupy, but also appears as a floor to ceiling panorama seen from inside, changing from day to night.
This demonstrates part of what we always consider in landscape architecture, which is designing the exterior “set” of people’s lives, where a thoughtful design can contribute to the mood, activity and possibilities of both individual and collective storylines.
A well designed scene gently, yet persuasively, frames a view that leads the eye with color, texture and pattern to the intended focus. In Parasite, the attraction was the beautiful shell that the rich homeowners had created around themselves. While gorgeous, it was static, offering no animation, destination or life of its own. Although this perfectly fit the needs of that story, the landscape architecture we always strive to design lives and breathes, both literally and figuratively. It needs to look like it can take you somewhere, whether that is actual or just implied. This helps the garden to come alive in your mind.
Just like in the film, sometimes the gardens are observed from one vantage point, like out through a living room window or from a hotel lobby. But, experiential gardens, like resorts, destination retail, or even in multifamily communities expand the interior environment to the exterior space, encouraging guests to move through the area by rewarding you as you go. The rewards can be anything from a seating area to a pool or fountain, a pavilion, play area or an expanded view of a surrounding vista, ocean or cityscape.
The landscapes that Lifescapes International create are just as varied in style as are the movies nominated alongside Parasite, but we always work to make sure that each one of our gardens, at their core, feels like a living, breathing destination of their own. The rewards to the visitor, resident, guest or shopper is immeasurable in quality of experience, which becomes an influential factor in the amount of time they spend there and their chance of returning.