Lightning Interviews on Sustainability: Propagation Park

**Interviews have been slightly edited for flow and brevity**

  1. Tell us your name, and what you do? 

My name is Samuel Robinson and I am a garden designer and builder.

  1. What corner of NYC is most conducive to your creativity? Why?

The corner of Malcolm X and Macon — where our workshop is located. We are on a residential landmarked block in a historical district. We built a community garden on the opposite corner which we use to host events and showcase our work.

  1. Your most interesting recent OUTDOORS design project? 

We designed and built a 15 ft wide and 11 ft tall curved trellis from steel and wood in the West Village. It is meant to mimic a sail, providing privacy while functioning as a visual feature for climbing hydrangea to grow upon.

  1. In this moment — climate, pandemic, other factors — one key way you see sustainability shaping your field?

Our space is suddenly so important.This puts a premium on whatever relationships we can develop with the natural world in the city.  Using native plants and materials is a good starting point. However, growing and creating your own plants and materials is even better.  The future of our field includes companies that produce their own plants and unique materials that act as signatures for their brands. Tri-Lox Workshop, for example, is milling their own black locust — redefining the wood industry in Brooklyn as the cost of cedar rises due to covid-related market changes.

  1. In your practice, one concrete change you’ve made to further sustainability? 

We take all of our plant cuttings and soil from our maintenance and excavation work and — rather than fill black plastic bags to toss in a landfill — we process them as compost in our community garden.  Cycling waste is a challenge that overlaps with our relationships with our neighbors.  We reuse materials as best we can, looking to present this reuse as an exhibit or example to our block and those surrounding it.   

  1. From what/who are you finding inspiration at this time? 

Belgian architecture firm BC Materials and their use of rammed earth as a recycled product.

  1. NYC has spent some time on pause, but we never stopped celebrating it as a vibrant breeding ground for creativity and innovation. Who is an emerging talent in OUTDOOR design in NYC that we should be watching? 

All our friends and neighbors who are trying to find a little peace through the act of growing plants.

  1. Tell us something funny. 

Bats hate the smell of cinnamon.

Learn more at the Design Days event sponsored by Propagation Park HERE.

Lighting Interviews produced in partnership with mebl | Transforming Furniture