3 questions to: Rick Mulligan

In Germany interior architect Rick Mulligan is well known from his TV appearances giving advice and suggestions for home improvements. He sees his role as being the interface between high-quality craftsmen, and his clients’ individual wishes. As an architect, he facilitates the design and installation of a high quality home interior, and advises the client from the initial design of the house, through to the garden layout.

Mr. Mulligan: increasingly, outside areas are coming to resemble the living room with comfortable sofas, armchairs and carpets. But the fact is that in our part of the world, the outdoor temperatures are not often warm enough to sit outside. What do you think?
People are simply happy to be outside as much as they can and be close to nature; it combines the feeling of freedom with relaxation. Now we can use the warmth from infrared light to extend the duration of outdoor comfort; in the past our time outside in the fresh air was usually limited to summer. Added to that, in the past few years we have had wonderful spring and autumn weather; we should take maximum advantage of this bonus.

What are the main considerations when planning outdoor areas?
It is important that outdoor and indoor areas should harmonise with each other; if possible, the architectural interior concept should extend to the outdoor area. In addition, the general design should blend with its surroundings. Cast iron grills or miniature Japanese Zen-style gardens don’t go very well with an urban environment. Of course, the materials used must be able to withstand all kinds of weather. For example, there is now a new kind of material consisting of pressed wood grains that is ideal for outdoor use. Modern outdoor fabrics are absolutely brilliant and no longer hard as nails, as used to be the case. I even use these fabrics indoors, because they undergo no solar degradation.

Which colours and what kind of products are currently in demand?
Mulligan: I
n my opinion outdoor colours should not be too bold. When all is said and done, the aim is to relax and enjoy the green of nature about us. I think subdued, natural colours in the Hampton style are best; a good deck chair symbolises all that is best in outdoor furniture, and is comfortable even without any upholstery. By contrast, expansive sofas are ideal where you want to be seated for an extended period, for example in a food service environment.

Further information: rickmulligan.de

3 questions to: John Herbert

John Herbert is the General Secretary of the European Retail Association, EDRA, the international organization representing home improvement retailers across the globe. With contact to almost every home centre worldwide EDRA has its finger on the pulse of current developments, best practices and the latest home improvement trends.

John Herbert, how important is the garden market for home centres worldwide today?
Herbert: The home centres in our EDRA operating in 50 countries represent total sales of more than 120 Billion Euro. The garden market has a share of 22 % including plants. That is no doubt very important.

Why should your members come to Cologne to visit spoga+gafa?
Herbert: Because there is no better place to be to do garden business. There is no other place with such a huge range of merchandize in one lot. You can find the cheapest but also the best products. The fair is absolutely attractive to the industry. It’s definitely a “must go”!

How about plants on spoga+gafa?
Herbert: As a lot of visitors are coming all over Europe to the spoga+gafa trade fair it could be advantageous for plant suppliers to be at the fair and it will give the spoga+gafa more of a feel as a garden trade fair.

Further information: edra-online.com


3 questions to: Jacqueline van der Kloet

Jacqueline van der Kloet is an internationally well-known garden architect with projects e.g. EXPO 2000 in Hanover, Highline and Battery Park New York, World Horticultural Exhibition Floriade 2002 and 2012, Millenniumpark Chicago, River Park Shenyang, Governmental District Kuwait etc. the designer of many private gardens throughout Europe and a successful writer of gardening books.

What is the most striking difference concerning private gardens between now and ten years ago?
van der Kloet:
In my opinion gardens are getting more valuable and important. People spend a lot of money to create their private paradise. They look for quality of plants, trees, but also for sophisticated gardening designs, materials and luxury furniture.

Do you think this is an answer to the rapid changing world?
van der Kloet: As far as my profession is concerned, I cannot feel the crisis. Maybe, beautiful gardens are an answer to a world we can no longer understand and maybe, gardens give a feeling of freedom and peace which we can hardly find somewhere else these days.

You travel a lot around the world, what does your garden mean to you?
van der Kloet: Whenever I come home again, my tea-garden (www.theetuin.nl) welcomes and surprises me and sometimes it even asks me to stay for a while, take a break or work hard to get rid of the weeds and to enjoy life, sun and rain and the miracles of nature around us.