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What’s on at the 2018 Re­sene Ar­chi­tec­ture & De­sign Film Fes­ti­val

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One of the many high­lights of the 2018 Re­sene Ar­chi­tec­ture & De­sign Film Fes­ti­val is the im­mer­sive Five Sea­sons, The Gar­dens of Piet Odoulf. The film celebrates the work of the Dutch gar­den de­signer, with much of the film shot at Odoulf’s own gar­den in Hum­melo, in the Nether­lands. As direc­tor Thomas Piper puts it, Odoulf’s gar­den “seems like a kind of lab­o­ra­tory for his most rad­i­cal de­sign ideas”.

Why are there five sea­sons in the film?

THOMAS PIPER It’s ac­tu­ally quite lit­eral. The film fol­lows Piet and his gar­dens across five con­tin­u­ous sea­sons: fall, win­ter, spring, sum­mer, and then fall again. It seemed nec­es­sary to re­veal just how in­ten­tion­ally Piet de­signs a gar­den for ev­ery sea­son. And by start­ing with fall, I liked how it per­verted the nor­mal an­tic­i­pa­tion of a gar­den’s pro­gres­sion. In­stead of start­ing with the first hints of spring and peak­ing with a florabun­dant sum­mer, the movie spends its first 30 min­utes cel­e­brat­ing the plants dy­ing. The big fin­ish is when fall has fi­nally come back around again, which, clearly for Piet, is the true peak of a gar­den.

It has been said that Piet plants like a painter. What do you think that means?

I don’t re­ally think of his plant­ings as painterly – more that Piet works in com­plete iso­la­tion, alone in his stu­dio, sketch­ing by hand... The aes­thetic qual­ity of his work was what drew me to him as a sub­ject in the first place. All I re­ally sought to do was try to recre­ate that in­ef­fa­ble ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing in one of his gar­dens, which to me is sim­i­lar to look­ing at as­tound­ing art – you can’t re­ally de­scribe why it’s so mov­ing.

Why are his gar­dens im­por­tant?

Piet is part of a lin­eage of ‘re­dis­cov­er­ing’ plants, mostly peren­ni­als that were out of fash­ion or con­sid­ered in­va­sive or nox­ious, and re­con­nect­ing gar­dens to more nat­u­ral ecosys­tems. I think it’s tes­ta­ment to how his de­signs re­ally speak to peo­ple in some pro­found way. He’s com­bin­ing an al­most un­par­al­leled knowl­edge of plants with an in­tu­itive and very per­sonal sense of com­po­si­tion.

We hear he’s clos­ing his gar­den.

It’s sad news. Hum­melo has re­ally a sin­gu­lar place in all of his gar­dens but he has an in­cred­i­ble num­ber of large pub­lic projects un­der­way – I think he’s just look­ing to re­lax when he does get home.

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