This course recognizes plants as one of the most expressive materials of the artform — a living medium that distinguishes the discipline from the other applied sciences and fine arts. The goal of the course is to introduce the global potential of plants as a means of design for shaping the character of a place for individual and collective human experience. Investigations that straddle hand-drawn, digital and analog mediums will explore the universally accessible and adaptive power of plants in making healthy, resilient ecologies and socially dynamic spaces.
The course emphasizes the use of empirical observations and investigation to explore multiple-scaled thinking about plants and their habitats, including cultural and vernacular attributes and larger ecological systems. It is not a comprehensive overview of the horticultural or botanical history of plants, however students will employ an important methodology for how to learn plants that can be translated to any locale, including the rote memorization of botanical and common plant names combined with recognition of a plant's visual features.
Through case studies, field visits, lectures, and readings students will learn to identify approximately 50+ plants, define notational systems, and translate plant characteristics into design languages that they can apply in future design work. The course exposes students to the understanding of plants from non-managed plant communities to managed living systems.
Products of the course will include mixed media drawings that explore typologies of designed and non- designed plant communities. Videos, photographs, black and white field notes, sketches, diagrams, and a series of curated drawings in axon, plan, and section will be the vocabulary of the course. Regular "plant walks” which will provide great opportunities to observe plants in situ and learn how to use plants to shape the experience of place.