We, as the Designer Interviews ("DI") had the distinct pleasure and opportunity to interview award-winning, most creative and innovative Fernando Pozuelo ("FP").
Fernando Pozuelo as landscape designer in Madrid has devised and coordinated more than 450 projects throughout the years. This amount of works shows the success of his selected signature and tailored gardens. Our way to understand the landscape design is shown by the unique outcome that we get from each garden that we design. We work thoroughly and take into account every natural, living, human and abstract element that affects the whole environment. Nevertheless, it is also important to count on the feature of customisation and adaptation to the context.
Fernando Pozuelo Designs
We are pleased to share with you original and innovative design work by Fernando Pozuelo.
Designer Interview of Fernando Pozuelo:
DI: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
FP : Well, I think that, since I was a child, even though I didn’t know it, I wanted to be a designer. I was curious about the landscape around me, so I started with small projects of gardens and terraces, as a game, in a way, but the real artistic expression came to me when I was around 18; I realised then that any landscape would only make real sense if it expressed an emotion; and so, the stroller interaction was required, and I saw that only through art this would be achieved, real art, like sculpture or literature. In this context of art and beauty, those emotions would help them be better persons, not only «walking through the park», but immersed in a poetic journey.
DI: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
FP : We are based in Madrid, where we have two offices open to the public, and a third place, my «private design shop», located in an area surrounded by forest and wilderness, a place where I can stroll about, breath and reflect freely. My main Project Team is composed by 10 persons, assisted by some 20-30 more people from the different companies of the group, who are actually in charge of developing the works. I’m proud to say we all share the same values, and have become a family.
DI: What is "design" for you?
FP : «Design» for me is a means of expression. A way of creating beauty and harmony, in all aspects of life, not only gardens. A picture, a dress, a saucer, can be designed. I even like to make small designs with the most irrelevant things, like mussel shells!! After eating mussels, I place the shells so they look like flowers, or maybe I overlap them like tiles on a roof…
DI: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
FP : Our Scenic Gardens are possibly my favourite designs, for a number of reasons: we accompany them with a small narrative that includes the owners as characters in it; also, those are gardens with a greater potential to make people dig into themselves and grow… Also, do not forget they are pieces of art, and so become a piece of family legacy. I believe a garden should be like a mirror, where the customers can see themselves reflected and absorbe all that Nature has to teach us… Values like simplicity, serenity, balance or patience… Gardens mirror the sky, and I am the first one who learns from them.
DI: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
FP : Well… My favourite design was dedicated to my father. I named it «The very sweet garden of Zara», and it was placed in the central court of the «Palacio de Atocha», at the Casa Décor 2016 expo in Madrid. We built it inspiring ourselves in the Alhanbra arquitectural geometry, more specifically, in the wooden coffering at the ceiling in the Palacio de Comares [part of the big complex of the Alhanbra] and its wooden structure, punctured in the shape of «loop holes». This kind of design inspired the whole garden, the fountains and all latticework as well. For us, this design of overlapping stars means that everything is connected, all things affect those around them, one way or another… Ultimately, we all are one, on its most sublime expression. On this garden, the acoustics produced by the water were adjusted just right for the space it occupied; we suspended some luminaries from the ceiling so they looked like floating in the air; and also some of its parts contained lapis lazuli embedded into them, like the front of a vertical fountain or inside a sculpture which was also suspended in the air.
DI: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
FP : I’m afraid I can’t remember my actually first design… You know, when I was 16, before going to College and getting my degree as a Landscape Architect, I used to work part-time in a plant nursery. There. I did all kind of things, from selling plants to watering, sweeping… I did this during my holidays, week-ends, etc. and was a great experience for me. But I do remember designing terraces for private customers in my beginnings, as well as some hotel entrances and indoors plant decorations for special events.
DI: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
FP : My preferred tool right now is the latest generation iPad, which I use as a drawing board. I use it of designing and enjoy it a lot.
DI: When do you feel the most creative?
FP : Well… When I’m on my own, with nobody around, I may play some jazz or classical music… Then I can concentrate on my distractions, meaning, let go my adult mind and let the child in me take charge.
DI: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
FP : I focus mostly on balance; balance between the mineral and the living, between the volume we create and the air filling that space, between artificial and natural light, or cold and warm light… between the laminar flow of water and its use in heights or fountains, the straight lines and the natural lines, plain verticality and deep perspective… Always in balance, always in movement.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
FP : I feel the passion of a traveller. For me, every garden is a fascinating journey, and I just dive into it, completely oblivious of time and the passing hours… It feels so liberating. My mind goes blank, and nothing exists beyond that. And, mind you, during this journey, I submerge into the details, the subte things… in little brushstrokes.
DI: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
FP : Well, my feelings are quite contradictory, at times, because once a garden is finished and I have a look at it, I don’t pay attention to the beautiful fountains, or the originality of the lamps disposition… I always find things we could have done better, little details, mind you, which most people do not even notice, but I do. And this prevents me from enjoying these other emotions like pride and satisfaction for a well done job and a happy customer…But I do get there once I’ve corrected o bettered those little things I mentioned.
DI: What makes a design successful?
FP : There are different moments; watching the creation developing out of nothing, while you are enjoying the creative process, dedicating to it time and repose in your life and knowing it will be transmitted to other people’s lives… Than defines my success. If the garden grew with work, care, even a little spoiled, tenderly cradled, I normally feel satisfied. Always in the know that everything can be improved. And then, the last step would be our joy when seeing the smile of appreciation on the clients face; we work in close proximity with our customers, most times we reach a deeper level of closeness and trust. This deep appreciation and respect from them is what makes me feel most thankful.
DI: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
FP : Not including here the ephemeral gardens, for me a garden must above all be functional and technically well resolved. It must contemplate all the sociological, urbanistic and edaphoclimatic conditioning factors. If we work from these premises, a garden can reach high levels of beauty, even sublimity. And strictly talking about the functionalities, there’s the primary ones, such as walks, resting areas, shaded or sunny areas, sportive… And I also believe there are areas of more subtle functionalities, due for contemplation, and absolutely essential for me, like the ability of the garden to make time stand still, its oneiric capability to take you away and dream, feel the sweetness of the scents and the murmur and freshness of the water flowing… It should bring you the opportunity of sneaking into a very far, and at the same so very close place: that is your inner self. And well, if all that is directed to a social group, or society in general, I do believe we are doing our bit towards a better world.
DI: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
FP : I think that our responsibility at the present time is very relevant and we also transmit values that we really cultivate. We have the knowledge and the capacity to re-naturalise our cities and we are doing it daily; we can positively influence in the cities thermal disorders and we are improving this capacity, we intervene in natural catastrophes like torrential rains and this is why we construct flood-able parks; we work to reduce the CO2 emissions, so do not stop planting trees… But, in addition, without being doctors nor psychologists, we are capable of reducing people's stress problems by bringing nature into their homes, we are able to reduce NDD (nature deficit disorder) and even to make therapeutic gardens,. We are not scientists, but we are capable of fighting climate change; not being philosophers, we are capable of instilling values in people; and we are no leaders, but we are capable of making the rest of the World dream together. This responsibility comes from the fact that we are working, precisely, with the elements life is made of.
DI: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
FP : You may call me a dreamer, but I do believe the future resides in what I like to call «The New Re-Nature». This new «re-naturalisation» is a dream where Nature gets back the place where it belongs in this planet. And it is already materialising, on new landscaping movements like Piet Oudolf’s «New Perennial». or new raw materials C2C (cradle to cradle) which will slowly displace the ofd contaminant ones and will bring emotional gardens, with capability to create a consciousness in people, who will see in Nature and Ecosystems an economical asset of priceless value for our health, not to mention a multitude of new business models which are to come, like interactive gardens, which will bring more money and satisfaction by cooperating with Nature that exploiting it, since plants and gardens can multiply the value of things, as can be seen in the real state and hospitality areas. This is a world-size movement, it knows not about languages, countries or social classes, because it identifies with life itself and the essence of everyone. I encourage everybody to dream!
DI: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
FP : It was in the year 2018 in Madrid, Spain. In a charity event self-financed by us, made for children with disabilities, where 100% of the benefits were donated. The exhibition was called "One Dream, One Garden».
DI: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
FP : I have fun designing, like a kid always playing around, and noticing anything that catches my eye: maybe a pair of shoes, a poster, a book, a museum, a traffic light, some children’s game or toy, a piece of fruit, or furniture, a sculpture, a roof… These are examples that come to mind right now. I like strolling around taking good notice of everything, and keeping what I like from the infinite world of possibilities that gives everyday living. I nurture with that. And that is an immense and full of brand new sources of inspiration every day. In addition, I am inspired also by other colleagues’s work, like Dan Pearson and Paul Bangay, and the frame of mind of some athletes, as could be the case of Rafa Nadal.
DI: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
FP : I would describe my style as balanced and elegant, because it harmonises the classic with the modern, east with west, integrating different ideas and cultures. I revere the beautiful creations of the past and let me be inspired by them, but updating them to the present time, and always trying to approach them from a simplicity point of view. Above all, when I'm faced with a design, I like to do it with an impression of strength and determination; then the details are refined.
DI: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
FP : I live in Madrid, Spain. My father is Andalusian, and to him I owe the love for the Nazari gardens which has always marked me, especially for the use they make of water. I think it is a great luck to be able to live in a country where there are such beautiful, sensitive and quiet gardens as the Alhanbra in Granada. Living in Spain, has conditioned me to work mainly with Mediterranean species, but it is also true that I would like to know first hand more species from other parts of the world.
DI: How do you work with companies?
FP : Fernando Pozuelo Landscaping Collection is composed by a parent company and several companies of the group with which we collaborate permanently, forming a trustworthy and united team with which we develop the gardens. At the same time, other companies hire us for different tasks: from a specific product, to a big garden, or a big real estate or urban project.
DI: What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
FP : Those companies that want to work with designers… First, I think they should be able to propose meaningful, exciting and promising projects, in which one feels is really worth getting involved, and secondly, projects capable of transmitting interesting concepts and ideas, and that is where the designer will give the best of himself, making a difference, and making it a "win to win» collaboration. I also believe that the selection of a designer by a company, when thinking of a certain project, must be developed in a natural and organic way, so that choosing a particular designer is the natural and easy consequence, because both are identified with the same values, with the same ethical codes and they pursue a common objective through the natural beauty, materialised in the design of a product, or of a garden.
DI: Can you talk a little about your design process?
FP : My design process begins by calmly observing the space. I simply let it breathe; that way, with total simplicity, the essence of the place appears in my mind... The so-called "genius loci", which fluctuates with the volumes of the space, emerges encrypted in diverse forms of beauty, which are shaped with simplicity through balanced geometry. In unison, I have in mind all the sociological, urban and also soil and climate criteria that will be required, and in this way the functionalities of the garden find their own place, by means of a "movement" scheme, or grid of circulations, walks and rooms, aimed at ensuring that the landscape created is practical and also responds to the requirements for which it has been conceived. The whole set responds to my particular style… to how I understand landscaping, and although I know the techniques used throughout history in various areas of the world, I use my own rules, without being especially conditioned. After all that, the technical development, or engineering, comes in; that’s where the rest of criteria are considered, such as architectural needs, civil works, sanitation, lighting, hydraulic elements, vegetation, irrigation, furniture, styling, etc. And all this is reflected in a project, which might incorporate computer graphics, 3D modulations, animations, videos, and models. In addition, in my scenic gardens, there are also new elements to be discovered, like enigmas to be revealed… These gardens are conceived as a lock that needs three keys to be opened, so to discover their full potential: one is the garden itself; another is the literary story and the third one is some artistic element such as sculptures or paintings that we put in place… to be eventually found. When clients read the story they, as well as their families, enter it as the protagonists, and that story reveals to them which elements are those that emerge from the garden, and which are encrypted in the design structure, or in sculptures and paintings that accompany the work. The garden then becomes an element that interacts with the stroller who, by being in it, relives the adventures he has read in the story, forever remaining engraved in their hearts as wonderful experiences. And, if the house were eventually sold later, they may always take the book and the art pieces; -and those secrets would be preserved forever.
DI: What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
FP : Well, this is a hard one for a designer… But if I must choose: 1. A ringed chair, made by my father, in the traditional way. 2. A steam fireplace. 3. A handmade low wooden stool, (like the ones used to milk cows). 4. A fountain with three brass pipes, designed by me. 5. A low living room table that retracts and lifts, and inside which I collect turtles from all over the world.
DI: Can you describe a day in your life?
FP : Ha, ha… Well, I usually get up early and give thanks, and at least 3 times a week I play some sports; after breakfast with the family and taking my kids to school, I go to our design workshop, which is just 5 minutes away from home. I check the e-mail and I start designing until noon. I go back home for lunch, and in the afternoons, I usually have video conferences or personal visits to clients or construction sites. Some days in the afternoon, I take my kids to play football, or I do activities at home with them and my wife. Oh, and on Mondays I have a meeting with the whole team. Any other day is usually as a said before. In the evening I always try and find some time to read, and keep learning and educating myself.
DI: Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
FP : Okay. I will try to transmit what I have always put into practice, putting it in common for everyone who might be interested. 1. Take responsibility for yourself. 2. There are good circumstances, and then there are "teacherr" circumstances, from which you can learn. 3. Say: "I'm going to", instead of: «well, I’m not sure…», or «only if things were different…» 4. Don’t stop dreaming; by pursuing your dreams you will be fulfilled (come what it may). 5. Work to better [ 2 ] yourself, so you can positively influence your environment, and hence the world. 6. We are all connected; if you can perceive this, you will find your guidance and strength. 7. Accept. 8. Use your feelings and your intuition, instead of always thinking with your mind. 9. Your power is in the present, and it is never ending. 10. When people ask me: "How are you? I always say "couldn't be better!!» 11. Events are your mirror. 12. The world is full of wonderful people.
DI: From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
FP : One of the biggest pros is that it gives you the possibility of travelling with your imagination, and also allows you to create beauty, help people, and feel their gratitude. As for the cons, the biggest/only one is having to select the clients you work with, simply because of time limitations, because I deeply wish I could share my gardens with everyone.
DI: What is your "golden rule" in design?
FP : Without a doubt, the geometric balance.
DI: What skills are most important for a designer?
FP : I would say a good designer must be creative, and a perfectionist; of course a mastery of tools and techniques is needed when designing a product. And lastly, I’d say the ability to convey the message it contains, I mean, what links directly the product with the customer.
DI: Which tools do you use during design? What is inside your toolbox? Such as software, application, hardware, books, sources of inspiration etc.?
FP : As I said before, my preferred tool in this moment is the Ipad Pro design tablet; I use the application Procreate to express my creativity at a first stage. These initial concepts are later developed with the team using other tools like Autocad, and modelling programs like 3ds Max (+V-Ray). And for industrial projects we also use Inventor, a great software for design and engineering. Regarding video, we use Adobe Premiere and After Effects, in fact we use the whole Adobe Creative pack. I also like to document myself in thematic books related to the specific project we are handling at any given moment; also, books on the history of gardens such as Paradeisos or on philosophy applied to history and landscape, such as Jardinosofía de Santiago Beruete are always at hand.
DI: Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
FP : I manage time by surrounding myself with my team, of which I am very proud, and hoosing those projects that we want or can work on. I also dedicate part of my time to sharing experiences with other entrepreneurs and, as I already mentioned, I am in continuous training, so that I can enjoy my business, instead of feeling carried away by it.
DI: How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
FP : Well, of course it depends on the size of the object. It is not the same to design a fountain, or a piece of furniture, as a complete garden, but you could say that on average between 2 and 4 months, although I insist, this will depend on the size. There are projects that can take us up to 1 year or more.
DI: What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
FP : It’s actually the following: what issues should be taken into account when designing a garden?
DI: What was your most important job experience?
FP : I think my most important, in terms of experience, was when I was 14 years old, and a friend of my parents’ asked me to help him to assemble and polish parquet floors, to earn some extra money. But by the time I was 16 I started working with plants, and then I studied my career. As a licensed landscaper, I did what could be, until now, my most important job experience: a garden of 16.000m2 in a villa by the sea located on the island of Mallorca. It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget, my first dream, my first big garden. Also it comes to my mind now another project, this one for an island located in a reservoir in Avila (Spain), and I also made a preliminary project for an Arabian palace in an area of 10Ha, which was certainly interesting.
DI: Who are some of your clients?
FP : Well, for starters, they can be particular or corporate clients. In the first case, they are persons or families, normally businessmen, investors, managers, patrons and collectors, between 40 and 65 years of age and who normally get to know us through circles of friendship; they normally have estates or houses that they wish to add an extra value through their garden, and to enjoy it much more, turning it into a wonderful place where they can share magical moments of their lives, as a family, with their loved ones, who will have those memories forged in a wonderful garden, a garden that will be preserved as a legacy. These gardens are usually large, but we also have clients who have other smaller gardens in areas closer to the city and even within it, per instance, terraces and rooftops. Now, at a corporate level, we are also hired by businessmen and CEO’s to create beautiful environments with many objectives: some companies seek to create a biophilic environments where employees can enjoy a pleasant and natural place to work surrounded by tranquility; in other cases e. g. there are hotels or restaurants, who want to please their customers through the harmony created by the plants; in other cases we are called by public institutions and/or administrators of historic buildings, who want to put in value such heritage asset -this happens especially with our real estate clients. These promoters know that a nice garden rises the sale price, and dramatically increases the possibility of closing and operation.
DI: What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
FP : Those I like most are the ones that give me total freedom in every sense, that’s when I can fully express myself, in time and shape.
DI: What are your future plans? What is next for you?
FP : I plan to keep growing as a person. I want to be a good father, I want to learn to live every minute, and I would like to tell my personal story because I think It could be a source or strength and energy to many people. I would like to channel my social work through my own institution, and overcome any challenges that may come in the future. Also, I’d like to incorporate new products to the gardening market, and build new projects all around the world, projects that will convey a simple message of beauty, purity, kindness and my life philosophy.
DI: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
FP : As I mentioned before, I’m proud to say I have a wonderful team backing me, composed by my own employees and some collaborators. We have admin personnel, management, engineers, landscapers, architects, graphic designers, writers, etc.
DI: Do you have any works-in-progress being designed that you would like to talk about?
FP : As you can understand, due to privacy criteria and respect to our clients, we can reveal only some details of the work we are doing right now, although in general, I can say we are currently developing three exclusive penthouses in three central areas of Madrid, and another one in Barcelona. We also have another 10 projects in our portfolio, of which I’d like to point our 3, one of 12.000m2, another of 10.000m2 and a last one of 6.700m2. And, to mention another one, we are very excited about this project we have in preparation for a historic building of 100,000m2, which I would love to talk about in the future… if it finally goes ahead and is possible.
DI: How can people contact you?
FP : We have a website: www.fernandopozuelo.com
DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
FP : Well, actually, yes; I would like to point out these two sentences that stick our team together: «a dream, a garden» «choose what you want to feel»