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idea lab 2022: adrianne kartachak & chris jackson


Austin Associate Adrianne Kartachak and Principal Chris Jackson teamed up for this year’s Idea Lab, focusing on granular realms of exterior design and how materiality, composition, texture, furnishing and lighting work within the larger landscape framework bring magic to a site. The idea actually came from Adrianne’s dad while the two of them were visiting Round Top, Texas, a town known for its endless supply of antique shopping. While exploring the flea market and watching interior designers choose finishes, furnishing and equipment (FF&E), her dad asked who is in charge of choosing the final touches of exterior spaces. Adrianne was quick to answer, “we are,” as landscape architects, but she realized that is not entirely truthful. “It was a total ‘aha’ moment for us,” says Chris.

While exterior design can certainly hold its own as a separate expertise, it does have an influence on the work of landscape architects. To the cohort, exterior design a potential next step in the field as landscape architects. They decided to explore exterior design and how that realm is often intertwined with their work as landscape architects.

For Idea Lab, the cohort’s process began with understanding how interior decorators and architects are trained, learning their go-tos and how they think through the problem of design. So, they interviewed five interior architects and two of TBG’s internal exterior experts, Tabitha Tattenbach and Robert Acuña-Pilgrim.

They discovered:
• There is a strong alignment with the TBG creative process – understanding of context, history and form generation
• A major add could include an emphasis on the spirit of the place early in the design process
• There is a deep lean into the tactile aspects of the project
• Strong comprehension of the monetization of the project program

Some potential outcomes for adopting exterior design are:
• Defining the unrealized profession
• Think of FF&E as major part of a project’s personality
• Do great experiential design
• Become stronger designers
• Become recruiting magnet

All in all, Adrianne and Chris believe there is a part landscape architects can play in exterior design and its ability in bringing magic to a site – going beyond what historically has fallen under landscape architects’ umbrella.

This blog is part of a series of TBG’s IdeaLab program – a structured fellowship that allows participants from every TBG office to explore a topic of their choosing related to TBG’s work. The process consists of tailored mentorship and guidance and firmwide support. Read more about the program here.