Eco Outdoor Creatives Interview Series
5 minutes with…
Since we’ve been flaunting shots of our brand new showroom in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles on our Instagram, we thought it was time to catch up with one of the talents behind the design, Dean Herald of Rolling Stone Landscapes. Celebrating 25 years in the industry, Dean and his team offer a wealth of knowledge and experience in designing and building residential landscapes. On top of creating gardens for people to live in, Rolling Stone Landscapes have also been recipients of several awards including a Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show, London.
Today, Dean opens up about his business, design philosophy and some of the challenges of working in the landscape industry. He also shares his favourite plants, outdoor space and coffee location in Northern Sydney.
Can you provide a short introduction to Rolling Stone Landscapes?
We are a design and construction firm specialising in high-end residential works for pools, landscape and external architectural structures. I started my training in landscaping after leaving school and saw an opportunity to start my own company at age 19 where I could start to implement my own ideas along with expanding my passion for design. This year we celebrate our 25th year of business which is a milestone we are very proud of.
Can you share with us some specifics about your firm, how many projects you work on and what drives you as a designer?
Over the years the business model for the company has evolved and we currently have around 18 in our construction division, along with a team of contractors, and 4 in our design studio.
We have many team members who have been with the company for a long time. Two have been with us for over 20 years and a handful are nearing 15 years. We all spend so much time together at work and it has been great to see people grow professionally and personally over this time.
I love being surrounded by talented people and as a group, we can achieve new and exciting milestones.
Do you have a design philosophy that you apply to your projects or process?
Understanding your client is most important and should be the centre of the process to ensure it works seamlessly for the end users. We also endeavour to design elements of interest into our projects that relate to both the client and the property’s environment.
What are some of your career highlights?
We have been fortunate to achieve a number of awards in both the show garden world and our contracted projects. We have competed in seven show gardens and have managed to be awarded a gold medal on each occasion including one at the Chelsea Flower Show in the UK.
Our contracted projects have also won many awards including state and national level. Having these and other projects highlighted in the two books I have published has been a great highlight for our team and the clients who we have had the privilege to work for.
What are some of the challenges of working in your industry?
After 25 years of business, I have seen the industry evolve on so many levels. The main challenge our industry faces is the ever-changing and unnecessary compliance issues that are enforced on small business in relation to insurance, safety & local authority approvals in order for us to go to work each day.
Each year these are increased and new obstacles are invented which require further funds and time – the very thing small business normally is short of. Unfortunately, when government departments consult with the industry they appear to not take on any ideas put forward, rather tick the box to say they have consulted with the industry and then implement their agenda regardless.
I feel this is reaching a point of breaking and the next season of business may see a push back…..lets hope.
Where do you get inspiration from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from architectural shapes. I often see an opportunity to use these in different ways throughout projects I design. With the clients brief firmly in mind, I also draw on the design experience I’ve had over the years.
What advice would you give an individual starting their career in your industry?
Understand the client and marketplace you are passionate about first and ensure you are focused on that sector.
There is a diverse range of areas in the landscape design and construction field, so understanding this first is important. In a start-up business, be aware that 9am to 5pm pays the bills and 5pm to 9am builds your future…meaning if you are not willing to put in the hours required beyond the normal you are better off working for someone. Long hours will be required for a season and that season could be 10 plus years, but if done right you will pop out one day and that’s the time people will being to say “you’re lucky”.
What’s next for Rolling Stone Landscapes?
Being in the business so long, we’re fortunate to see the door open to new opportunities, interesting clients and continuing challenging projects which I get inspired about.
We have some new branding and image ideas to roll out for the business soon and the opportunity to share our brand on a global platform couldn’t be easier with social media. In addition to the design and construction goals, I am excited to be able to work on the business systems and continue to reinvent what and how a modern-day landscape firm operates.
To wrap up…
Best coffee in Sydney’s North-west?
The Local Collective at Galston.
All-time favourite garden/outdoor space?
911 Memorial….A powerful external space.
Most loved plant?
This week Kalanchoe ‘Silver Spoon’.
Your dream holiday destination?
Any beach house with my family.
Reading right now?
Mostly emails, unfortunately.
Your ultimate Sunday looks like?
Breakfast that rolls into lunch that rolls into dinner then I roll into bed.
What does #livelifeoutdoors mean to you?
The removal of walls and a ceiling and replacing that with the elements, balanced with plant life.