7 Lessons Landscape Architects Can Learn from Steve Jobs

7 Lessons Landscape Architects Can Learn from Steve Jobs

Article by Erin Tharp We cross disciplines and look at the iconic Steve Jobs to see what concepts cross over from the world of Apple to Landscape Architecture. Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, was known for many things, including his love of technology and his innovative designs. Both of these traits can also be found in most aspiring landscape architects, so the question is; what could Steve Jobs teach landscape architects about design? Here are seven lessons from Steve Jobs to make us all better landscape architects.

The iconic Steve Jobs. By Matthew Yohe, CC BY-SA 3.0.

The iconic Steve Jobs. By Matthew Yohe, CC BY-SA 3.0.

1. His Use of Color Jobs knew that to create a product that would stand out from its competitors he had to create a look that would make it literally stand out. He is credited with choosing the five fruit-inspired colors for the iMac, which boosted sales by 24% and allowed people to use their computers as a way to express themselves. Later, when other computer companies began following suit with the bold use of colors, Jobs, once again, was a step ahead and chose a more minimalistic look for his line of Apple products, and then later went back to using color in the new line of iPods. Just like the world of landscape architecture, where trends are constantly changing, it’s important to be able to keep designs fresh and new, and Jobs was an expert at this. It’s also important to know how to use color in a landscape, whether it be through plants or hardscapes, and to not overwhelm users with too much color. It’s one thing to create a vibrant landscape and another to create a gaudy landscape, and Jobs would have been able to add vibrancy without being tacky. 2. Don’t let Clients be Designers While it is always important to listen to what your clients expect a design to accomplish, it’s also important to remember that you are both designer and expert and ultimately you need to create the design. “A lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” is one of Jobs’ more famous quotes and is a great piece of advice to all designers, not just landscape architects. 3. Keep it Short and Simple

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Jobs may be best known for his ability to create both great products and presentations that are inherently simple and easy to use and understand. So, the next time you sit down to present an idea to a client, remember the rule that Jobs preached to his employees; KISS (keep it short and simple). Keep your presentation simple and be clear by not using too many technical terms. Along these lines, Jobs was famous for using the “rule of three.” This is a presentation technique perfected by Thomas Jefferson in his “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” speech, and one that Jobs used in every Apple presentation. For example, he introduced the iPhone by saying that Apple would be introducing “three” products: an iPod, a phone, and an Internet communications device. This rule was applied to every presentation after, whether in the number of products released or in the description of the product, e.g. “thinner, lighter, and faster,” and it was his way of engaging his audience and keeping them interested. 4. Does the Design Work? Something that is frequently forgotten, because a designer feels their product is beautiful, is whether or not the design works. Landscape architects fall into this trap all the time. Oftentimes an idea will get stuck in a designers head that they “have” to use this paver or this plant or put the pool here, but by stepping back and really looking at the big picture, one will sometimes discover that while this design element might be pretty, it isn’t functional. Steve Jobs was known for his ability to be flexible in design and would regularly release a product only to change it down the road based on user feedback. He is quoted as saying, “Design is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works,” which could be a saying applied to landscape architecture as well. 5. Always Offer Value Over Price If a client is stuck on a budget it’s important to design around that budget, but don’t sacrifice quality and ultimately produce bad design to meet that budget. Instead, explain the importance of quality pavers or a good irrigation system for the longevity of the project, and point out the money that will be saved in the long run by installing the right products up front. A project can always be installed in phases if the budget just won’t allow for it, and remember Steve Jobs proved that people will pay a premium if they know they are getting a better quality product. 6. Challenges = Success Sometimes your toughest clients or design problems can push you to produce your best work. If given a job that is a quick fix or a simple design, oftentimes the results are boring and typical, but given a site with a unique set of problems can really bring out your creative side and the result is usually brilliant. Steve Jobs constantly challenged those that worked for him and encouraged all those around him to never back down from a challenge. 7. Design is Important Steve Jobs was one of those rare people that was interested in creating products that not only worked but that were also beautiful. No one is going to hire you if you only create functional sites; in fact, there are other career paths you should take if you are only interested in the functional side. Being a landscape architect means that you not only know how to make sites work but you also know how to make sites enjoyable and beautiful and attractive to users. If you were to survey people about why Apple products are so popular, more than likely most would say their design. So, remember this the next time you sit down to redo a site. The next time you’re stuck on a design or nervous about a presentation than simply channel Steve Jobs and follow some of the rules that helped to make him one of the most famous designers ever. WATCH >>> Steve Jobs 7 Rules of Success | Apple and Pixar Founder | Entrepreneur Motivation

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Article by Erin Tharp

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