Landform Design Group | LFDG

9/10/2012 | Amy Tibbals
Marcus MacDonald

Landform Design Group [LFDG] is a landscape architecture firm for all spaces, residential and commercial. From roof-top gardens and pools, to small, outdoor spaces that simply need freshening-up,  LFDG sees property as an extension of the home; they create outdoor living environments, rather than landscapes. These fellas are creating functional space [planning with purpose!], fostering solid design, and thinking outside the backyard. Truth known, they fancy themselves 'educators in outdoor living'. The LFDG aesthetic is modern, edgy, peaceful, dreamlike, and larger-than-life; ultimately each space is designed to inspire, renew, and refresh. Urban renewal, park design, large-scale and estate planning, and private residential gardens are all well within thier realm of expertise. We're COLLECTIVELY in love with the idea that your outdoor space can make you feel as happy as that within the walls. We chatted with the Founding Principal, Jayson King, to find out more about this 'outdoorsy' crew and what they do...

As self-proclaimed 'non-enjoyers of the ordinary', what elements do you use to spice things up and make exteriors anything but? For us, we have many elements that are defining the space we have to create. The "lay of the land", the "architecture" of the home/adjacent buildings, and of course, the "style, wants, needs, and priorities" of our clients. We try and take all of those elements and create memorable, sustainable, outdoor environments. For one client, that could mean a perimeter edge pool with an amazing lounge space. For another, it could be a stone patio with a very detailed fireplace and pergola structure.  For us, it comes down to thinking outside the box; truly creating a great space, but then complimenting that space with incredible materials (plantings, hardscape, furniture, planter pots, etc.). Again, all space we create truly begins with the question, "How do you want to use your space?"

What services do you offer? We offer full design services from commercial projects to residential gardens, conceptual layout plans to fully-detailed construction documents. We also offer construction management services where we act as an owner's representative, bidding out the project and overseeing the construction of the project.  We truly make sure each and every detail of the project comes together! We also offer consultant services, where we may do a full design package, and then we're more "on call" for our clients as they have questions/concerns or need help in specific areas. We truly pride ourselves in customizing our services based on the needs of the project, and the needs of the client. That could be just initial concept drawings...or full design/management services.

What is your favorite design book/magazine? Garden Design, Landscape Architecture, and Dwell are all consistent on our shelves.  I personally like to follow the teachings of Frank Lloyd Wright, and find a lot of inspiration in his design philosophy and aesthetic.

What landscapes move you most? I would say I am mostly moved by the natural landscape. Nature itself. The natural randomness on how it forms it's beauty. Whether it's a natural stream bed cutting itself through a canyon, or a wooded hillside with a natural rock outcropping peaking over the valley. Many times I find myself in awe about how we try so hard to replicate something that happens so naturally.

What inspires you? I am inspired by seeing great design. It could be an amazing piece of architecture, an incredible outdoor environment, or a great piece of furniture...I seem to love the "simplistic" nature in elements. Almost when you are in an environment and it just feels connected to its surrounding environment. To me, great design is not forced...it almost feels effortless in a way. I also love to see people thinking outside the box. Not just the "standard".

What's the most frustrating aspect of your job as a designer? To have your vision and the "picture" in your head...and to try and see that all the way through construction and completion. There are so many things involved as a plan becomes reality...contractors, budgets, material constraints, existing conditions, construction techniques, quality... just to name a few. I think the most frustrating thing for me, all the way from the start of my career to this day, is the translation of the design to the reality of the space. You're almost trying to have people understand your vision and care about the space as much as you do. A designer is the most critical judge of the space he or she creates.

And the most rewarding aspect? This is easy...seeing a design come to life in a real space! Through our management services, I'm fortunate enough to be able to see projects go through all the stages of construction, from the initial concept, through the detailed drawings...all the way to the final shrub being put in the ground. I love to see how all the details come together, complimenting materials, etc. I also love to see our clients watch those spaces come to life and hear stories of how they are using and enjoying it!  It's the most rewarding feeling in our profession; to see an idea come to life and watch people create memories in the frame you created!

If you had no limits [money, resources, etc.], what would you create? One amazing space! Budgets and resources are reflected in the details. Without that constraint, the details on a project would be out of this world. From the perimeter edge overflow of a pool, to full glass tile throughout, to the cut limestone patio, ipe (Brazilian hardwood) decking...the material selection would be out of this world! I truly focus on the creation of the space as the primary emphasis, with the materials and some of the costly details being secondary.

Describe the most fun project you have ever worked on: We've been fortunate enough to work on everything from a 30-acre, private estate garden to a rooftop garden in Melbourne, Australia. The most fun, though, was a 2,000 sq. ft. space in the 2010 Spring Home and Garden Festival at the Southtown Expo Center. We used this garden as a case study of our process, to educate people in how we take a project from design through complete construction. Essentially, we were able to design and build our dream garden. This outdoor environment had a modern flare and edgy feeling. We were able to take all of our ideas and thoughts, and truly show people what we love about outdoor living. We built the entire space in 3 days. That's all we had.  Given the tight timeframe, there was about 4 months of planning involved, over 8 contractors, and 3 different manufacturing reps. It was a crazy 3 days, followed up by 4 busy days of showing it off. We decided to top-off the space by hiring a 3-piece jazz band. It was truly an incredible week of my career...extremely stressful and busy, but very rewarding! Follow the link below to see the process, showing some initial drawings, the construction process, and finally, the finished imagery.

| Facebook Image Gallery |

What is your absolute favorite landscaping product at the moment? I'm digging on 2 new products as of late: 1) Board Form Concrete Walls. We use a lot of walls to form space, make up elevation differences, etc., so we use a lot of different materials like steel, stone, brick, plaster, and boulders. My new fascination with Board Form Concrete Walls is that they have a tendency to give more of a modern flare. You'll notice this on the new Adobe Building in Lehi.  2) Long, narrow, modular pavers. These pavers give a nice, modern, clean look to a space. They're a much better application than concrete. We specifically like the pavers from Paverstone, as their material finishes seem to be very nice, and have a great sustainability factor.

What was your early vision for your business, and how has it changed over time? When LFDG began in 2004, we were only a residential landscape design company. I was focused more on the "conceptual" layout plans for clients and contractors, which allowed me to get some great ideas down on paper; it gave a great layout of the space, but truly lacked the detail and oversight needed to make sure the vision came to life. In a sense, we were doing an injustice to our clients by handing them a great plan, and expecting them to see everything through. As the business has developed, our process has strengthened. We now take advantage of technology, using 3-dimensional programs to show clients their entire space before a shovel hits the ground. We can really lead a project to success, and guide our clients through that process.

Also, 5 years ago, Brandon Reed came on board. He's a registered landscape architect in Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. Brandon has been the foundation for our commercial division. We're a very small company -- more of a boutique-style firm -- so everyone usually has a hand in every project that comes through the door, whether it's a private residential garden, or a development design for a new community.

Is your business seasonal? If so, how do you handle periods of down time? It is slightly seasonal, but not extremely. Depending on our involvement in a residential project, our design process alone can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 3 months, not including the bidding and construction time. For the most part, we're always pushing clients to start planning in the fall and winter for a spring construction. We often use the winters to get caught up on office organization, researching new materials and techniques, marketing, and of course, vacations.

Describe a day in the life: I have a lot of variety in my weeks. One day, I could be in the studio working on a new design at a drafting board for a few hours...other days are spent putting together proposals for clients. Many days are spent on-site in a construction management role. I am in the studio for about half of the week, with the other half being spent visiting and managing projects, meeting with new clients, and completing consulting work.

Landform Design Group | 511 W. 200 S. Suite 125 |  801.521.2370

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