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MAG Outdoors: Landscape Designer

Oct 11, 2018 8:36:09 PM

As our Fall celebration continues, we pay homage to the beautiful landscape designs of Julie Farris. Julie’s work is engaging, memorable and celebrates a myriad of outdoor spaces. She is a New York based landscape designer and creator of landstylist.com, an online service created with the aim of making stylish and sustainable landscape design accessible to all communities. 

Julie Farris

MAG loves the creative design offering found on Julie’s website. Check it out. And enjoy her numerous design palettes. Julie’s green aesthetic will make you long for simple and elegant outdoor living. And we promise, you will find her work appealing and necessary…all of our gardens and patios would benefit from Julie’s keen eye. 

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Below Julie Farris shares her career path to landscape design.  Get inspired:

MAG. How did Landstylist happen? Share your career path. Was it a passion for plants, the environment or was it by default? 

After college I started working at an Ad agency in the design department and I was miserable! I hated sitting at a desk all day, and dreamt of being outside. My happiest childhood memories were very much related to time spent outdoors in nature, and I think those memories have been a powerful influence. So after a year or so of torture, I quit and began working at an environmental non-profit that was putting together an encyclopedia on the environment. This was in the early 90’s, and while the environmental movement was on the radar of some, it wasn’t front and center like it is today. But at this job I was inspired by a man on the Board of Trustees who was a Landscape Architect. I had never heard of that profession, but the idea of a job that addressed the environment with a creative bent was appealing, and also, I was a terrible secretary. One afternoon I literally combed the yellow pages (that was our Google, sadly), and started working at a firm that focused on Landscape Architecture and Urban Design. From there, I applied to a program at Harvard called “Career Discovery”, a program that continues today and is offered over the summer months and gives an incredible overview of Landscape Architecture, Architecture and Urban Design. I fell in love.

MAG. Would you encourage girls and college students to pursue Landscape Architecture, and why?

I would. I hate to be a ‘Debbie Downer’ here but I worry that under Trump, people will be de-incentivized to pursue careers that are related to helping our environment, and that healthy stewardship of the land will fall away. I think we need people getting into the profession more than ever and really digging in to protect the policies that seek to conserve and enhance our natural resources (like land, air, water, National Parks). I also think there are ways of pursuing interesting careers in this profession that don’t necessarily fall neatly into the category of landscape design alone. The design of cities for the future and development of suburbs very much relies on the healthy relationship of natural and built systems. Global warming and it’s damaging effects on the built environment will be something that future generations will need to get very creative about, and landscape and urban design is integral to that effort.

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MAG. How has your career impacted your children?

Ha. I could say that my kids know more plants, or see gardens and landscapes differently than most, but I would be lying. I do know that both of my kids are eager to get out in the world and make a positive contribution, so maybe I have been influential there.

I do remember working on one particular project, called the Urban Meadow in downtown Brooklyn, which stands out as a project that was meaningful to me. I used to go to this one playground in Brooklyn that was always really crowded and it was next to giant 8,000 sq. ft. strash-strewn vacant lot that happened to be owned by the Parks Department. This drove me crazy, particularly because all of this open space wasn’t being used, so I designed a wildflower meadow with rolling hills of grass and a grove of dogwood trees and raised money through grants to get it built and built it. My kids were little when this was being done, and so I remember schlepping them down to the site and hooking up a fire hose with them and watering it, watching them running through the cascade of water. Seeing it all come together with them was pretty awesome.

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MAG. What’s Boss about you? What “tough decisions” or “smart moves” have you made in order to accomplish your professional goals?

I have always sought to make the profession bend to what works for me and my interests. It doesn’t always work, but it works more often than not, and I would say that it’s important for girls and women to push back against traditional ways offered up in any profession because often there is something to offer that isn’t necessarily on the menu.

MAG. Uniquely different: Tell us something that makes you different?

I’ve been told I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old boy. I think that might make me a little different, but I don’t know. Maybe that’s common for 40-something year old women?

Check-out MAGnificent MAG, Julie Farris at landstylist.com. And tell them MAG sent you!

MAG Up!

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Julie Farris’ work has appeared in numerous publications and books, including The New York Times, Architectural Digest, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal, The Architect’s Newspaper, The New York Post, Gardenista and the publication, Design Brooklyn, and recently featured in the book, Gardenista. Julie served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and was Co-Founder of The Big Future Group, an interdisciplinary design firm working in countries in need.

Written by Sloan Bruno

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