Design Principles(02)

All rightie then, coming off the heels of the previous post with the good Doctor here comes some more wackiness.

What I have below is what I thought was the most beginner of beginning design. Where all Landscape Design starts.

I have not touched or amended any of this. I wanted to show exactly what I had written for this 4 hr workshop on Beginning Design for landscape professionals.

The workshop was promoted for beginners and I assumed I’d have beginners. In reality I had a class of around 25 that was across the board. From complete rookie novices all the way to those 3 guys(I remember them clearly)* sitting on my right, who had been around for quite awhile.

Ten Building Blocks to Design-Design at it’s Most Primitive

7 physical and 3 Sensory Elements=The 10 Basics of  Design

Physical Elements:

  • Point: where everything starts.
  • Line: the connection of two points.
  • Plane: connection of several lines—2 dimensional.
  • Form: connection of several planes—3 dimensional.
  • Motion: movement/experience, planes/form.
  • Color: an added bonus to 3 dimensional space—courtesy of light.
  • Texture: as in manipulation of plane, form, and color.


  • Sound: Most powerful, out of sight, or irregular rhythm.
  • Touch/Tactile: human nature, drawn to . . .
  • Smell: kicks in memory, most powerful.

These ten create 3 dimensional design in the fullest sense. When you create with all 10 in mind you can achieve great design.

The above create the 3 dimensional World we live in.

So there it is.

This is the outline I started this class with and went through these 10 in around an hour; of those 4 hours for the workshop.

Moving on to other principles as I thought the class was picking up on the above.

What I am looking for is this:

  • Are the above 10 where we should start when looking at design principles?
  • Are they even design principles that need discussing when it comes to landscape design?
  • If they are , is this the way the 10 should be separated?
  • For the record I think so. Especially when it comes to explaining 3 dimensional work, and getting off the ground plane-but I digress.If those are the 1st 10, where do we go from here?
  • If they really aren’t where is the actual starting point for teaching landscape design principles?

What’s next?

I’m sure I am missing some questions above about what I consider the 10 building blocks. So ask away.

We cannot find answers without examining and questioning.

I am not really wanting to get on to more advanced principles, or even arguing what are more advanced principles. I really am wanting to know where the start is. The actual starting line for teaching.

Everywhere I look the teaching. writing, lecturing is so very different.


I can’t even count the number of times where I’ve sat in on a talk on supposed design principles and the talks are all over the board(see previous post/video) on those principles beginners must know.

I bet I could do a 2-4 day workshop where we could gather designers and do nothing but discuss those principles, identify those principles and have great argument as to what those design principles really are.

Sounds like a lot of fun, Are you up for it?

Back to the above, sound off about the above, let me know how you feel/think/teach/design/practice.

Let the argument begin . . .


* I remember some of the discussions I had with those 3 they were clearly interested in what I had to say. They were interested in exploring from another perspective what design principles are and how we/they/I look at them.

There was also talk about how little is offered in the Green Industry on design principles, what they are, and how to really apply design principles in a productive way. Are you listening ANLA?

I enjoyed the give and take immensely.

By Rick Anderson

The Whispering Crane Institute was originally formed to act as the umbrella organization for the Philosophy of Design Symposium, and other seminars and workshops given by Rick Anderson and Richard L. Dube’. In the year 2000 WCI became a sole proprietorship owned by Rick Anderson. Today the WCI provides design and consultation services for Landscape Contractors, acts as a Green Industry think tank, and provides training for others in the form of workshops, seminars, and individual consulting. The WCI also provides written material, opinions, case-studies and how-to articles for industry trade magazines.


  1. A solid concept or intuitive sense of what the landscape wants is where it all starts for me. How does the topography read? What language is the existing architecture speaking?

    I’m laughing because this is exactly how it went when a group of us started arguing DP’s down at the CENTS show.

    For experienced designers it does become about intuition/topography/arch/client desire(s). The question is then . . . where does that come from? Where does it start?

    Your intuition says do this, or that . . . but why? and how will you do that? What are the guiding principles that will lead you in following that intuition?

    All interesting questions. Your comment also leads me to believe that there may be no advanced design principles when the experienced designer(s) speak of intuition, land architecture, client desire(s), designer experience.

    I become more curious about this by the moment.

  2. It is everything above that you both speak of, but originally that artistic magic comes from your soul or being that is where your intuition and your talent comes from. You then use any tools that you are taught and use these in your own way to create. You can be taught everything practical in the world but you have to combine this with your own artistic ability coming from your very being to actually create. That is why every designer is unique. You cannot teach creative essence because that comes from your soul. You can teach how to capture and interprete it. Does this make any sense/ Hope so.
    PS I am a landscape designer

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