A Studio Like A Garden

I started my first garden, and my studio at roughly the same time. I thought it was important for myself and the people around me to see abundance, and have sustenance with so much uncertainty. I learned to grow, and care in ways I hadn’t before. And I found the studio worked just like the garden.

With both, you make plans. You do sketches. You make more plans and more sketches. You figure out what will come where, and hopefully, when, and you’re prepared. You get plants. You plant seeds. You wait. Every day you take care, every day you work on it. There is growth.The habits become a self-supporting ecosystem, and it all grows together. There are unforeseen challenges, some things die, and you make adjustments after finding out some things just won’t grow where they are. There are joys and successes; you hand small tomatoes to your neighbor.

It’s spring, then summer. You worked with a really interesting person to help you weed, til the soil, and replant. Three months ago you planted purple amaranth and forgot about it. “I guess it didn’t work.” Shifting the soil around stirred it up. It pops out of a pot with some purple kale, purple on purple. A great color combination and the amaranth provides soil coverage, keeping everyone happy, symbiosis. This mutually, this symbiosis in both the studio, and the garden, has been the result of planning, daily work, and a bit of fortune.

Natural and Digital Systems

I’ve found that natural systems, and digital systems have many of the same characteristics, and while the ethical positions are much more complicated for digital systems, I’ve found the growth of both to be very rewarding. I have been thinking about Metcalfe’s Law– Metcalfe's law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2). The reason it squares, is because of the exponential value a user can bring. 

Users are vibrant, individual nodes on the network, they bring exponential activity. The more users you get, the more interesting a platform, service, or discrete account is, and because of this increased utility, users beget users. I’ve noticed the same thing in a garden.  I started with commercial farm inspired single row planting–I had low yielding, scruffy little sad plants, definitely not enough to barbecue with the neighbors. Then, I experienced substantial, exponential by planting a variety of plants, close to each other–very freestyle. Borage, Mora, Buckwheat, Collard Greens, Sorrel, the closer they got the more friendly the garden felt and the more they all thrived. I don’t know if there is a corollary to Metcalfe’s law in gardening, but I can imagine that ancient practices which prioritize biodiversity like a Milpa show the value of bringing people, and plants together.  

Bearing Fruit

A while ago a friend gifted us a bag of Cucumis sativus, from a farm in Northern California. When we were done eating the cucumbers, I saved the seeds. I dropped them in the soil to germinate indoors during the winter, watering everyday they needed it. Most of them didn't make it. One did, and grew inside during the winter into a strong plant. During spring I planted it in the garden a few months later, and it started sprawling. I just watered everyday, but not fruit. Lots of flowers, but no fruit. The cucumber vines had gone all over the whole side of the garden, again, no fruit. I forgot about the idea of cucumbers. Then yesterday, my partner was poking in the garden, and surprise, a huge cucumber, 12" long, hiding underneath, then another one. It seems that just watering everyday, you don't see the fruit, then one day, it appears, and you find more, and there's a lot. Give some to the neighbors.


Some plants grow faster than others, and get larger than other as a result of it. Environment matters, space matters, water matters, nutrients matter. I have a fig tree, that is a seedling of this tree, that is over head high, and a mango tree, which is the same age, which is barely two feet tall. I have lots, and lots of shiso right now. I was planting medicinal herbs and planted a single plant last year, this year, it has returned and grown exponentially. It overshadowed the fennel, buckwheat, cucumbers, you name it. In design, this can happen as well, you have an element, concept or idea that grows and overshadows the entire project, it's important that for the sake of balance, and the project as a whole that you trim. Recently working on a site for a record label the label asked that a major visual element be removed, a border around everything. It was a great idea, it brought it all back to the point, which is, what's on the page, and prevented a single element from overpowering the whole experience. Sometimes it's important to trim.

Growth And 

I water the garden every day. It's hot in here in Southern California so the garden needs it, especially in the summer. If I forget to water, certain plants can handle it, but others wither. For the whole garden to be strong, and all the plants to work together, to grow together, there needs to be consistent water and food. At the studio, there is nothing more important than consistency, and working every day. The more you put in, like the garden, the more you get out.