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June 2009


MEET THE DESIGNER

Charlie Baker
By Annette M. Rose-Shapiro

A LANDSCAPE DESIGNER BRANCHES OUT TO CREATE ORGANIC GARDEN FURNITURE AND MORE

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How did you get started creating outdoor spaces and structures? I grew up watching my parents constantly working to make our family's home and property beautiful. My mom is a landscape designer and my dad is a photographer and creative builder, so my environment was a workshop for endless ideas. I didn't realize the outdoor design and carpentry skills I had learned could become a possible profession until I worked for a landscape designer and contractor out of college. How would you describe your aesthetic? My overall style is somewhat organic—I prefer to use raw building materials that complement the garden's plant material. I work with their natural shapes to build structures that are almost an extension of their surroundings. Who or what has influenced you? Andy Goldsworthy's book A Collaboration with Nature made me see the potential of rustic materials. Also, the work of a stone mason/landscape designer Lew French. His work defines what I try to achieve: functional works of art. What is your most memorable project and why? In my mom's garden, I made my first attempts at building an arbor, a gate and outdoor furniture—the types of things I now do all the time. Being able to build something at my own house with total freedom was a great way to get started. Having the property in the family, it's nice to be able to see those finished projects and enjoy them on a regular basis. [Image] What are your favorite materials to work with? I like working with branch wood, which has a lot of character—interesting shape, color and texture. Are trends important to you? No. I appreciate designs that are timeless. What do you dislike in a garden? I'm not a big fan of garden gnomes. Tell us about your latest project. I'm currently working on a large, rustic garden arbor and a series of decorative cedar gates and fences in Connecticut. How would you describe your clients? I've been very lucky to have clients who have trusted my abilities and given me the freedom to execute some fun and interesting designs. What would your second career choice have been? I started out working in film production. Soon, though, I found it wasn't for me, and that's when I kind of stumbled into working with my landscape designer/contractor friend. I'd be lying if I didn't say that a career as a starting outfielder for the Mets wouldn't make me happy, too. Name three people, living or dead that you would invite to dinner. Andy Goldsworthy, Paul Newman and David Wright, third baseman for the Mets.

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