The practice of landscape and townscape or urban design is driven and shaped by consumer markets as much as it is by aesthetics and design values. Since the 1700s gardens and landscapes have performed like idealized lifestyle commodities via attractive images in mass media as landscape design and consumer markets became increasingly entangled. This essay is a methodological framework that locates landscape design studies in the context of visual consumer culture, using two examples of influential and media-savvy landscape designers: the renowned eighteenth-century English landscape gardener Humphry Repton and one of Britain’s top twentieth-century draftsmen and postwar townscape designers, Gordon Cullen. Rather than aesthetics and meaning, I focus on the designer’s motives, working modes, and visual marketing strategies for building audiences and markets. At the heart of these strategies is the performance of images in consumerist culture. Drawing on primary and secondary sources, I show that they persuasively fashioned, “packaged,” and “sold” their landscape commodity through attractive and marketable image-text products. The study highlights the specific role that each man assumed vis-à-vis his work environment and consumers, the pictorial sources that each used, and the media that broadcast and shaped each designer’s legacy. Despite the different historical contexts and the particular logics of the economy and mass media apparatuses of the time, this consumerist-focused study also reveals parallels between these men’s motives and image-making and marketing strategies. For instance, their drive for both professional and laypeople appeal led them to bridge theory and practice, use the “art of compromise,” and devise palatable and alluring images. By using consumerist arts perspectives in landscape and urban design studies, I offer a new interpretive path toward a historical knowledge that incorporates the landscape designer’s modus operandi and explains the role of mass media and marketing in the production and consumption of landscape.
|ScienceOpen disciplines:||Sociology, Political science, Political & Social philosophy, Urban studies, Architecture, Communication & Media studies|