Bring the WILD and the light indoors for the season

Here at Design Wild we have been thinking a lot about the darkness that comes with this season.  In these winter months our part of the world turns to long darkness and cold (if you hadn't noticed) and our country, in continual turmoil, seems to be turning more and more to the darkness as well… Winter has descended and naturally we retreat indoors. In the woods, life too retreats into internal realms.  The trees, as our elders, lead by example shedding their leaves of 2017. Letting go they send their energy into their roots, regrouping and building strength for action and renewal to come. They know that spring will return.

Today on this eve of Christmas we are reminded to draw inward, to slow down, to laugh, to read, even to sing and to begin to reflect.

Many traditions bring light indoors to lift a little of the darkness and keep the faith in the return of the sun. We light a candle, a menorah, maybe a Christmas tree and reflect on the source of light within us that can be summoned to carry us through the challenges ahead. 


Design Wild, by its nature intimately follows the seasons. In spring, along with the first buds, we burst into action. Through the long summer months we continue to build and care for the spaces we love. But autumn begins our winding down; we harvest the last of the food in edible gardens, plant flower bulbs in the cold earth as a final prayer for spring and tuck the gardens in for the winter.

Because of this cycle Design Wild arrives at winter's door exited and ready to turn inward; we are ready to reflect on how far we’ve come, record the lessons the past year has taught us and begin to build strength and resiliency for the coming new year.

But we wanted to help others embrace this seasonal shift, to remind folks not only to come in for the winter but also to keep faith like the trees that the spring will return.  Inspired by a magical little one (Anjali!), we created the WILD Box. 

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The WILD box brings a corner of woodland magic into its caretaker's home. It helps us remember the lessons this season has to teach: to slow down, to cultivating wonder and connections, to explore the inner realm, and to reflect and build strength for the future.  

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Whether you’ve built a WILD Box with us, or you have your own corner of nature in your home, here are our suggested instructions for care:

The WILD Box brings it’s magic to those who show attention:

As you walk through the city, keep an eye out for wild offerings you can add to your WILD Box - an acorn, a stone, an especially beautiful leaf, all will bring your attention and energy to the present wild world and will brighten your winter home.

· Find a moment each day to pause next to your WILD Box

· Light a candle.

· Take a deep breaths...

· Offer a few sprinkles of water, breathe in the smell of the forest floor

· Share a thought of gratitude

Remember, when the time comes, let the WILD things go. Bring in new items to offer. Just like the season the box too can continually change. Every season offers new gifts for your Box.

The magic of building a WILD Box is a small microcosm of what Design Wild seeks to facilitate in the connect people with the natural world; to allow others to participate in designing their space; to nurture a sense of stewardship and wonder as we share the responsibility of caring for these wild spaces; and to illuminate how we all rely on plants for health, connection and peace

There is much work to be done in these cold months.  Be called to action.  And as the forest sleeps, we illuminate the darkness, we bring our light indoors, we reflect, we study and we build our strength.  The plants and our world as a whole are going to need us!

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PARADE: An exhibition by Derek Fordjour opens at the Sugar Hill Museum in Harlem

Design Wild LIVES to create gardens throughout the city.  We love how the magic and wonder of the natural world wildly transforms and improves our city life. We have been busy on a bunch of projects this season designing and creating gardens both in residential spaces as well as public ones.

This month Design Wild is honored to be bring a touch of that wonder and wild into an incredible new installation opening on July 27th at the Sugar Hill Museum:



PARADE: Derek Fordjour

PARADE is an immersive multi-media installation by artist Derek Fordjour that will take visitors on a journey through the sense-memory of childhood and the process of forging an identity.  At once playful and poignant, disorienting and propulsive, PARADE will engage and inspire both adults and children alike.

You may be wondering, how does Design Wild contribute to a museum show??


This is actually the second Fordjour Studio installation Design Wild has contributed to.  The first one was in 2015 and you can read what the Times had to say about that show here.


This time around, Design Wild worked on a few angles of the show, both supporting overall creative process, discovering playful material solutions and bringing touches of that magical wonder only the wood elves do better!

Here’s a bit about our process:

1. Working closely with the artist we down loaded his entire vision into a 3D model. Being able to walking through the model allowed the artist to make design decisions and experience his concept at scale. The model also became an essential tool for communicating with the wider installation team; from curators and museum staff to construction professionals.

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2. Now for materials:

I mean, what museum show is complete without 4 tons of soil? Or several pallets of brick!  Just let me loose in a masonry yard and I’ll be happy for the rest of the day.


3.  And the magic….?

Well… it may involve a 14’ tree installed in museum...  but for that you’ll have to come see the show!


Edible University

Growing Vegetables on the Street

As a horticulture experiment as well as a social experiment a dozen planters located in close proximity to Washington Park in Greenwich Village, Manhattan were planted with a wide mix of flowers, vegetables and herbs including Swiss chard, snow peas, beets, basil, rosemary, beans, strawberries and more.  Growing in one of the most trafficked corners of the globe these edible plants grew in full view of thousands of people traveling through the city.

Many folks stopped to ask questions, to tell stories and relate their own history to vegetable growing, their grandmother's legendary beans, their father's famous tomatoes.  Often the question was 'What if someone steals the crops?' That's ok, as long as they leave some for the rest of us!