Design is a process that involves space, elements, aesthetics, function and people among other things.  But in the end, what is perceived is the way a space looks and feels. The relationship between designer and client must be established in terms of expectations and communication. Certain clients are very hands off in the design process, preferring to allow the designer free reign with creativity. Other clients have very specific criteria and are very involved in the design development process.

My approach to design is very client oriented as I avoid imposing my personal preferences into the process. Although I can take credit for the design, it is still the client’s property and the fulfillment of their needs, desires and goals.

I enjoy working with my clients in a manner that educates and informs them about how I formulated a design concept. This is a way for clients to appreciate the deeper meaning behind the concepts and images placed on paper.


During my graduate studies in Landscape Architecture at California Polytechnic University Pomona, we were given coursework that included traditional design and construction but also an emphasis on what they called “ecosystematic landscape design”. This term was later changed to ‘sustainable landscape architecture’ and is now what the school of Landscape Architecture is now called, “The John Lyle Center for Sustainable Studies” – and who was the chairman of my thesis committee.

Do I Have a Style?

I am very cognizant of imposing my personal preferences on a client who may have other style preferences. Design is a complex process where style is only a part.  But from a personal standpoint, I was influenced by my parent’s adoration of Asian art and a graduate course called Geomancy where we studied the hidden aspects behind Chinese and Japanese Gardens. Thus the concepts of symbolism, reverence for nature, Yin Yang balance and the subordination of ornamentation has influenced me in terms of my own personal tastes. But I do not default back to an Asian style with every client. As I honor each individual’s tastes and preferences and strive to provide the best design with which they would resonate.

From a more practical and universal standpoint, I do attempt to blend stone, water, fire, plants and sculptural elements into designs that evoke a sense of serenity, liveliness and beauty. Balance is the key to good design. This approach blends well with any style or theme.

My deeper interest in gardens, nature and design allows me to sense the inner meanings and design intent of the designer rather than the garden’s appearance. These subtler messages can be imbued into certain gardens where appropriate. For clients that want a more spiritual focused design or space such as a meditation garden, labyrinth or healing garden, a true meeting of the minds would be at hand between designer and client – making the design process more of an experience rather than a linear progression of events.

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions area where I answer most of the typical concerns and thoughts people have about hiring a professional design-build architect.  Also check my Benefits of the Design Build Approach to see why you should not hire your gardener for more than maintenance.