Riviera Gardens an interview with landsacape designer Stefana Savin
What got you started in landscape design, and why?
For as far as I can remember, I have had an interest in plants and landscapes. Deep down there, I’m a countryside girl. I grew up in the Romanian countryside. I closely experienced the cycles of nature to observe how plants and sunlight change over the seasons. First, I wanted to become a painter, then a doctor, then an attorney. But when the time came to reach a final decision about my studies, I had something like a eureka moment. It was a Saturday afternoon, I was pulling out weeds in our family garden and suddenly realized that I want my work to be close to nature. I chose Horticulture. After graduating from university, landscape design seemed to be the perfect blend between nature, architecture, and project management. Now I have the privilege to design gardens with Riviera Gardens in some of the most beautiful properties of the Côte d’Azur.
How long have you been working in the landscape design business?
I’ve been working as a landscape designer on the French Riviera for more than ten years. There has been a constant evolution, in terms of appreciation for the aesthetics of outdoor spaces, of scale and proportions, and also a growing knowledge of the various local microclimates and the behavior of the plants over the years. The approach of the client relationship evolved in time as well. It is less about what I like and more about what the owners desire and what does feel right for them. Because ultimately it is them, their family and their friends, who spend time in the garden.
How can consciousness be brought into landscape design?
Consciousness is an additional dimension integrated into the workflow. It is about being fully present while doing something. Bringing awareness into the design process can be natural for landscape designers, as we are in contact with the peaceful energy of nature regularly. Consciousness imbues with the quality of the work. It can be cultivated, through attention, silence, and listening. For example, when I start working on a new project, the first thing I do is listen to the land, to the house, to feel it from inside, going beyond rational analysis. I am seeking to connect with the spirit of the place.
How can gardens help elevate the consciousness of us all?
By their very nature, gardens take us out of our everyday worlds. They are our sanctuaries, our meaningful private spaces, filled with life and mystery. Walking barefoot in a garden is a beautiful way of grounding and reconnecting with the pulse of life. I am very fond of using natural materials in the gardens I design, and especially introducing stone. Our local landscape is rich in different types of stones and rocks. The stone reminds us that Earth had existed billions of years before we came as individuals into our physical existence. Gardens teach us about the ephemeral, look at these fantastic flowers – some of them open only for a day. The gardens have a powerful energy that takes us out of the time and is where some of our best memories happen.
How long does a garden take from start to finish?
Creating a garden, from start to finish, can take from 4-5 months up to several years. This duration depends on the size of the property, the complexity of the site, and the design, on whether the house is being built or renovated or official authorisations are required. In the first stage of a project, we make an art out of knowing our customers. We prepare a site analysis. Afterward, we develop a design concept with visual elements that facilitate the understanding of the project. The next step consists in making the technical plans, drawings, and specifications, which allow the smooth build of the project and obtaining the cost of the works. When the works start, project supervision and administration are crucial as quite often late-stage design decisions are needed as the project develops. After completing, we offer a garden maintenance supervision service because the gardens mature and change with the passage of the years.
What are the main benefits of having a garden landscaped by you?
Imagine you have a garden that makes you feel as you truly are: unique and special. I believe a property should reflect the owner’s personality. I wish to translate my clients’ vision and desires into a stylish, elegant outdoor space. The gardens echo the elements of style, character, and personal expression from the architecture and the interiors of the property. I aim to create a delightful choreography, a unique experience of flow when moving between the indoors and the outdoors, and from one area of the garden to another. But ultimately, the greatest gift I want to give to my clients is a sense of connection and enrichment through the magical gardens I create. Each property has its unique potential; you just need to unlock it.
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Inspiring international lifestyles based on the French Riviera