On the Ideal of Beauty / by Vera Gates

Let All My Eyes Fall Upon be Beautiful

Nearly twenty years ago, we received a design commission from a wonderful man named John Sperling. When asked to describe his dream of a garden, John replied with a grand, sweeping gesture: Let all my eyes fall upon be beautiful. This one goal informed the entirety of his program. He wished to be moved by the beauty of it all, nothing less.

We were invited to explore anything we could imagine, as long as it could be rendered exquisitely. He was open to explorations of sculpture, mosaic arts, bronze metal works, stone carved fountains and lush plantings. He thoroughly enjoyed the design process as well as the final, built garden.

We came to realize that a transformative experience was what John wanted most.

This was an incredibly empowering concept to us as young designers; we were creating art, beauty and a meaningful experience. The idea that beauty is an essential quality and valuable for no other reason than that it exists has made our work deeply meaningful.

We continue to be inspired by John’s words with every project, all these many years later. We aspire to make everything we touch beautiful and we invite participation in this dance to the music of art and beauty.

We ultimately worked with John on three different gardens, always with an eye toward beauty. Each garden was unique and specific to its site, and each echoed the brilliance of its purpose. John died recently, after a long and abundant life, filled with love and beauty.  He will be greatly missed, even as his legacy lives on.

I am so grateful for the gift of his words.

Thank you, John.

Vera