Acclaimed Spanish landscape designer Fernando Caruncho is renowned for his lyrical gardens that artfully play with light and geometry. Since founding his studio in 1979, the Madrid-based talent has completed over 150 projects, ranging from private homes and agricultural estates to minimalist public gardens that are perfectly in tune with their architectural surroundings.
His first book, Mirrors of Paradise, was released some two decades ago, and the intervening years have seen his firm complete an array of deceptively simple landscapes around the world—from New Zealand to Greece. Now, Caruncho is releasing a highly-anticipated follow up called Reflections of Paradise (Rizzoli), written with respected garden guru Gordon Taylor. The new volume comprises 26 pitch-perfect green spaces that are derived from myriad influences, among them Islamic design, Zen Buddhism, and European Classicism.
To commemorate the release, Caruncho talked to Galerie about what makes the new volume so special.
What inspired this book?
Initally, it is a continuation of the first book, Mirrors of Paradise, which presents the first 20 years of projects. The second is a continuation of the dialogue with the same writer, Gordon Taylor, and here you can see how the language of the garden is being enriched in my mind through geometry. What we intended to achieve with the book is to give it the spatial-temporal feeling that you get in a garden when you walk through it; it is an inspiration that has a poetic sense and tries to express that feeling of a forgotten memory.
Is there a defining element that you want all of your gardens to have?
Yes, fundamentally the connection with the place and its interpretation through light and geometry. This would be the common factor that I try to achieve in each project.
Which project was the most challenging and why?
Every project is challenging and every project always proposes a new challenge, and when you are in it you forget the others… This is my personal perception, but I understand that for someone who sees them or walks in them, these gardens attract a lot of individual attention. But my wheat garden, the vineyard of Amastuola, Flynn, Santar, fundamentally their look depends on the look of the others, but for me, they are all new and have always been a challenge.
What is your favorite garden in the book?
This depends a lot on the look that each photographer has had when photographing it. Without a doubt one of the gardens that best expresses the connection with the landscape is the Bacciolo, a garden in Tuscany with the background of the Monastery of Sant’Antimo, the landscape between the hills and the background of Mount Amiata.
What is your design philosophy?
My way of approaching the garden is to let the place speak to me and to listen to it through its light. That light is revealed within me and my connection with the place is expressed through the hand with the sketches. This is a very difficult process to explain and one that belongs to a personal and very intimate emotion.