Whether they specialize in urban gardens or suburban masterpieces, landscape architects have their hands full these days. The mad rush to transform Hamptons potato fields into weekend Xanadus has design diva Edwina von Gal busy working on more than fifteen projects and designer Helmut Lang calling in landscape architects to add dune-shaped hills before the checks cleared on his $15 million abode. To join the ranks of green-thumb masters like von Gal and Signe Nielsen – or simply learn how to make your bland front lawn a bit more like a blooming country garden – start with an Introduction to Landscape Design from the New York Botanical Garden, which has more than 600 classes a year. Carol Chamberlin explores the principles of symmetry, balance, and scale in one or more simple design projects. There is a class devoted to texture and color, and one on how to run your own business. “A lot of people confuse landscape design with garden design,” says Chamberlin. “Garden design is just a portion of the landscape. It’s the icing on the cake, the décor.”
“Introduction to Landscape Design,” three sessions, Mondays beginning September 13, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; $66. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx (718-817-8747).
good morning, glass
Glass is no longer the poor man’s crystal, given the likes of Tiffany designer Elsa Peretti and Dale Chihuly, whose glass chandeliers can go for $1 million. If your artistic ambitions run this way, UrbanGlass offers classes to get novices accustomed to working with the material and basic vessels before embarking on more personal and creative techniques. “Glassblowing involves working with a partner, and one of the most important things to learn is working and communicating with that partner,” says instructor and sculptor Michael Krumrine, who adds that glass is experiencing a renaissance, especially since the modern furnace allows people to work in their studios. UrbanGlass also offers classes in stained-glass-window design and goblet-making.
“Beginning Glassblowing Part I,” twelve sessions, Saturdays beginning September 25, 6 to 9 p.m.; $625 plus $50 registration fee. Other class days and times available. UrbanGlass, 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn (718-625-3685, extension 237).
The distressed look is appearing on everything from boutique walls to reproduction country furniture. And it doesn’t require talent at wielding a brush, says Inez Foose, instructor of the New School’s decorative painting class. “Even if you’re only good at finger painting, you can do this.” Foose structures her hands-on workshop so that students get a sampling of various surface finishes, from crackling and faux (wood, stone, marble) to stenciling and gilding. You’ll walk away with sample boards, with which you can start a portfolio, and seven different decorative techniques, which you can apply to anything that catches your eye.
“Decorative Painting,” seven sessions, Wednesdays beginning September 29, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.; $210, plus about $100 for materials. The New School, 66 West 12th Street (229-5690).
Fine, you want to be the next Adam Tihany. But before you can design modern triumphs like the Time Hotel or Jean Georges, you’ll need some training. In Parsons’s introductory interior design course, you’ll learn scale-drawing, problem solving, and color theory while completing a project from conceptualization to presentation. And don’t be deterred if you can’t draw. “I’ve had lawyers, bankers, all sorts who had no drawing skills at all,” says instructor and architect James Collins. The final project, a room designed by the student, can be presented when applying to certification programs or for a job, Collins points out. “One of my students got a job from his neighbor after showing him his board.”
If your idea of fun is looking at fabulous digs, enroll in NYU’s Interior Design: Manhattan Style to discover how New York’s top interior designers approach lighting, furniture, storage, kitchen, and bath design in everything from small spaces with no views to high-rises where the view is everything. In the past, the class has visited apartments by Juan Montoya, Noel Jeffrey, and Clodagh.
For a private look at some eye-catching restaurants, the Bard Graduate Center is holding a one-day dining and design class that includes a tour of Ruby Foo’s, with impresario David Rockwell; Tabla and 11 Madison Park, with owner Danny Meyer and designer Peter Benta; and Henry Meer’s City Hall, with designer Peter Bogdanow.
“The Making of Interiors: An Introduction,” twelve sessions, Sundays beginning September 26, 1 to 3:30 p.m.; $382. Parsons School of Design, 2 West 13th Street (229-8933).
“Interior Design: Manhattan Style,” four sessions, Wednesdays beginning September 22, 6:10 to 8:10 p.m.; $190. New York University (998-7130).
“Designs for Dining,” Friday, October 29,12:30 to 5:45 p.m.; $150. The Bard Graduate Center, 18 West 86th Street (501-3013).
Chic television cabinets like Chinese wedding boxes are the furniture item du jour, but getting a 35-inch monitor to actually fit in one is nearly impossible. To make your own custom version – and don’t count on recreating an Empire look just yet – register for the Craft Students League beginners’ woodworking class. Bill Gundling will teach you how to safely work with stationary and portable machinery, hand tools, and adhesives. His workshop, geared towards furniture- and cabinet-making, incorporates traditional and contemporary approaches that teach you everything from distinguishing wood qualities to joint-making techniques. “You may not be ready to redesign a kitchen, but you’ll have the basics,” says Gundling. For aesthetic touches, opt for CSL’s Natural Forms Workshop, taught by sculptor and furniture-maker Daniel Mack, whose work is displayed in several museums. He will guide you through designing and building with branches, saplings, and other natural materials.
“Woodworking I,” twelve sessions, Tuesdays beginning September 28, 6 to 9 p.m.; $345 plus about $20 for materials. Additional class days and times available.
“Natural Forms Workshop,” Saturday, May 6, 2000, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; $115. Craft Students League, 610 Lexington Avenue, at 53rd Street (735-9731).