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Rick Eckersley, JUDGE OF THE DESIGN FILES DESIGN AWARDS

As The Design Files Design Awards entries close in just a few weeks, we catch up with Rick Eckersley, founder of Eckersley Garden Architecture and judge of the award’s ‘Landscape Design’ category.

Rick Eckersley to judge TDF Design Awards

Continuing on from our interview series with the judges of TDF Design Awards landscape category, we chat to iconic designer Rick Eckersley. Rick provides insight into what he’s looking for in the award entries and gives sound advice for anyone launching a career in landscape design. We also discuss the changes in the industry he’s seen over his long career and hear about the latest project keeping him busy.

I’d like to see innovation and a really strong aesthetic in the entries of TDF Design Awards

Firstly Rick, congratulations on being selected as one of the judges for TDF Design Awards. Can you share your thoughts on the awards and being a judge of this inaugural event?

As someone who has been in the design industry for a long time, it’s nice to be still considered relevant and invited as one of the judges.

Out of all the categories, Landscape Design I believe to be the hardest to judge because it’s not an instant build. There is a fair bit of imagination left up to the judge when we’re considering each garden space. I’m looking forward to seeing what the entries will bring.

Musk Cottage garden designed by Rick Eckersley, JUDGE OF THE DESIGN FILES DESIGN AWARDS
Musk Cottage garden designed by Rick Eckersley, JUDGE OF THE DESIGN FILES DESIGN AWARDS

What are you hoping to see from the Landscape Design entries?

I’d like to see innovation and a really strong aesthetic in the entries of TDF Design Awards. A landscape design that’s individual, featuring a new approach that moves away from cookie cutter design. I’d like to see spaces that are challenging and relevant, taking into account the complications that climate change is throwing at us.

Having been a part of the industry for a long time, Eco Outdoor is excited to be sponsoring the ‘Landscape Design’ category of TDF Design Awards. Would you share with us your relationship with Eco Outdoor and how you’ve used the product in your projects?

Eco Outdoor was largely born out of necessity as there was nothing in the market in the way of hard surfacing beyond concrete pavers. With a warmer climate, over the years we increased the use of stone in our designs. As a result, exterior areas became more liveable and as designers, we have to encourage that.

Elaborating more on this, can you share some thoughts on the importance of long-standing Australian suppliers in the industry?

Today, it’s a global market. Gone is the idea that you can only specify local materials. To be able to work with Australian suppliers who have established themselves in the industry and who are bringing product in from all over the world has been of great value to architecture and landscape design.

Musk Cottage garden designed by Rick Eckersley, JUDGE OF THE DESIGN FILES DESIGN AWARDS
Musk Cottage garden designed by Rick Eckersley, JUDGE OF THE DESIGN FILES DESIGN AWARDS

The landscape design industry has evolved greatly over the years. Can you discuss how you’ve seen it grow from when you first started out in the industry?

The landscape design industry has now come into its own. From a stagnant idea of looking at gardens, now the garden has become a built environment for living in. Landscape design was previously considered the last thing you need to finish off a property with very little budget remaining.

Now landscape design is integrated into the concept of the home. Architects and Interior Designers have come to appreciate the value and the amenities landscape adds to the built form. You now have house and garden.

What advice do you have for any creatives starting out a career in landscape design?

As a landscape designer, it’s very relevant to have knowledge of both horticulture science and architecture. You really need to marry your aesthetic and practical design capabilities while being aware of the final result you’re after.

Toorak garden designed by Rick Eckersley, JUDGE OF THE DESIGN FILES DESIGN AWARDS
Toorak garden designed by Rick Eckersley, JUDGE OF THE DESIGN FILES DESIGN AWARDS

You’ve established an incredible career in landscape design. Can you share with us some of your career highlights?

My stroke in 2016 while in Bangkok was a low of my career as well as a life-changing experience, but I’ve had many highlights!

Contributing to the industry and working a fresh, Australian approach to garden making over the years has made for a rewarding career. To be available and heard within the media, and to bring more awareness to the value of garden design through radio, books and open gardens has been a highlight.

You’ve created an incredible portfolio of private gardens, award-winning displays and best-selling books. What’s next for you?

I’m currently working with other creatives to produce ‘Art Of An Australian Garden’; a publication which concludes the Musk Cottage project I started in 2006. This has been a wonderful process and I’m looking forward to sharing it sometime in Spring.

Up next in our TDF Design Awards judge interview series will be Georgina Reid of The Planthunter. To view more about the awards and submit your entry, visit TDF Design Awards here.