Nov 12. 2014


  • Landscape designer Felipe Negrini
  • Meeting with developer, Angela Lau
  • Ranked Santa Elena Restaurants.

I met up with Felipe Negrini, a fabulous landscape designer in Monteverde. It was so inspiring to talk to him about the principles of design and his current projects in the area. The following are my notes from the conversation!

  • In Costa Rican culture, there’s a love for nature but a disconnect with action/doing something about
  • Costa Rica is supposed to be green but not everyone is
  • Be aware Villa Verde is heavily economically driven
  • Only 20% of commercial nurseries are native
  • The main problem is that Ticos have good intentions, but don’t want to invest
  • Ticos don’t pay for specialists/ experts (ex. nutritionist, landscape designer, etc.) like Americans do. People forget that experts also give choices.
  • “Leed credits” in architecture how they affect structure open up your mind to care about plants, but other things
  • Concept of a design requires one to acknowledge the functional/social/cultural/ecological history of area’s surroundings at hand. Look at the relationships between things (ex. plants, views inside and out).
  • You ALWAYS have a reason for every placement of your design (ex, a bridge because there’s a river)
  • A design says what needs to be changed to be adapted. Also the first design is not set; it is not an end, but something to be continually evolved (ex. like one’s knowledge/relationship of biodiversity continually changes).
  • My app is great and original because it is a model/an INITIATIVE to spread biodiversity.
  • Remember to clarify the reasons for giving certain ratings; i.e. clarify methods. Remember methods will change with experience and mention that (ex. “this is a start in rating quality based on biodiversity). Figure out the value of these stars you’re giving out.
  • Taking pictures and showing them to tourists already lets them rate the experince they think they’ll be taking.
  • A design with intention is better than a place with no concept
  • Might considering rating the percentage of rate native versus non-native plants (but might be used for future prototypes).
  • analyze the problems of the place, climate, function
  • Always observe what people are doing, looking, NOTICE YOUR SURROUNDINGS
  • Find the logic in your design. Make your intentions clear. Ex. I build trees to block the view of car/building, I build a parking space so peole can see the fantastic view from on top of the view instead of constructing a street for no reason other than for the sake of constructing a street).
  • CONSIDER YOUR ENTRACE (like in theatre/video). What do you want your audience/customer to see immediately? Also what views do you want to hide and what can you do physically wise to make that happen?
  • See what your options are and what there is to resolve.
  • His method: Draw it first, scan and use Vector works. The nice thing about computers, is that it changes perspective, but the nice think about drawing, is that it makes you think twice.
  • Symbols are most important!! Consider their texture, shadows and realism. Be specific; ex. find a symbol for a tree that sheds differently from another tree.
  • LIST OF NEEDS AND INTENTIONS of space inside and out.
  • Example on how to redesign Choco café: It’s a open areas in terms of wind so most important are windows so plant trees in a way that would maxmize view of town while blocking everything else. Also maximize space so use tables outside for people who want to enjoy the sun.
  • explain what you are seeing relationsips give information what is happening!! INFO ABOUT surroundings
  • His project: Background-“zopilote” => annoying pple commissioned by hotels to get people to join certain tours. Does not give options to tourists entering Monteverde, negatively impacts small businesses, makes it an ugly experience for tourists. Give people access to information about the history in Monteverde, an explanation of a plant or view via signage. Identify zones and show what activities are available there. Design app that helps you make decisions while you walk,
  • Know what you are designing for. Ex. WHAT IS MONTEVERDE WHAT IS SANTA ELENA
  • Remember a design is a model for other city. Think long-term, believe it will work long-term. Believe your design IS great and can make a difference.
  • Remember what pple experience when they’re walking: colors, textures, history, culture, feeling.
  • Ask WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL. Ex. What is beautiful about the sidewalk they are constructing; do they know there are options? Why not put benches and take advantage of the surroundings; i.e. a place to park, to give info about the view.
  • Patrick Blanc: French landscape designer specialized in vertical gardening. Originally from Japan 300 dollars a square meter. Too expensive for Costa Ricans so Felipe intends to develop something cheaper with vertical gardening, being a very open theme.
  • Interesting history: interventions in Paris by a bunch of French landscape designers. Dropped a bunch of seeds on a map and chose them as places to intervene. dont want a pattern its interesting better to find reasons to design and why to intervene (ex. make a park not easy to access); Same park in central area
  •  Bad example of design: Centro commercial. Does not consider social, economical factors. So white. There’s space for something go inside, but with no connections to the outside, main entrance to cars, but not many pple have cars. Drawings are beautiful, but it doesn’t work in practice. Lost money with making everything absolutely white. You need to find a reason to design; not just. Ex. OBSERVE that people walk a lot in Santa Elena so why center design around parking??? Also, a plastic fence surrounding a garden, which is also surrounded by rocks make no sense anymore. This insults the landscape designers who designed that garden too!
  • You can’t just do what you want or what you think you want. That’s arbitrary.
  • Design is process; it requires time and process.
  • Designer’s problem=> dialogue starts but the opposite happens (so EDUCATING is then important). Ex. An organization grabbed ideas from Felipe. Changes idea disrespectfully and does not even attribute credit, PLUS didn’t understand why his reasoning behind his designs and made something worse.
  • If you have a background in design, it’s very easy see what is bad and good.
  • Important to fight for importance of design; to show the worth of design and why it important in implementing everything.

Pictures of Santa Elena, while I was rating them:

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I had a meeting with my beloved friend and developer, Angela Lau. For the site/app, she would be the developer (the one who implements the site/app) and I would be the visual & UX designer. Things to get done:

  • Mood Board (colors, names, important words, the STORY)
  • List of requirements (ex. mobile, offline, skills of the person who will eventually manage or update the site/app)
  • Prototypes (ex. wireframes, low fidelity post-its, work flow, screens and interaction)
  • User testing
  • Data of restaurant’s ratings, info on plants, resouce page, method, THE WORDING, etc.