This month, our featured member maker is KaN Landscape Design. Originally from France and now rooted in the Hudson Valley, Karine Duteil and Nadej Hocini share their background, inspirations, and how they got involved with the Hudson Valley Current.
Please describe the work you do at KaN Landscape Design.
The work we do often begins with conversations. We are very involved in many aspects in our community and people are always dreaming of projects, but do not necessarily know where to begin. That is where we come in; we believe everyone can be a designer with the right guidance. Therefore, the most important thing we do is listen to what is wanted and needed and then, with community engagement, client involvement, and youth-led design, we help turn those rough ideas and dreams into reality.
No matter how small or large the project—from master plan to memorial site, green wall to green roof, farm rooftop to parklet, natural playground to backyard—it is the sheer variety of projects and the multifold human interaction involved that makes our work so fulfilling.
What is your background and how did you start your business?
It started with a love for design, friendship, and the will to work together on meaningful and social-oriented projects. Also, to recreate for others and share the childhood happiness we had growing up in the French countryside in harmony with nature, and later in a modern urban setting. We are both French (KaN Landscape Design, Inc. is a woman-owned and operated business) and met at City College in NYC studying Landscape Architecture.
Previously I (Karine) worked as an entrepreneur and multimedia journalist, but the limitation of the language and the frustration of only reporting what others were doing as opposed to doing something myself, led me to move to NYC and attend an art school so I could immerse myself in the culture. I graduated from each floor of the Art Students League (from sculpture to drawing to engraving) throughout my study of fine arts. After a few years of being a sculptor, I realized that my work could only be affordable to the 1 percent, so I went back to school to become a Landscape Architect. That way I could bring art to the streets, where I think it belongs for everyone to enjoy.
As for my business partner, Nadej Hocini, she studied urban design and architecture in Paris, as well as graduating from an art and design school, with one of its focuses being artistic intervention in the built environment and public realm. She believes that surrounding people with nature and inspiration is a way to change their experiences and encourage them to meet others through new interests and a shared vision.
The City College Landscape Architecture program, gratefully brought strong friendships and inspiring teachers and encounters.
Inspired by landscape architecture-driven practitioners and their interest in community-based projects, our paths crossed (on top of other cosmic reasons) and we both decided out of our friendship to start our journey and create a practice in 2010.
How do you choose the plants and materials in your designs? What is special about these materials to you?
First, we proceed through a site analysis to figure out the soil, sun, and water situation. Depending on the clients/community need/vision we propose a palette of plants that we think will fulfill the intent. We encourage planting natives and/or edibles when possible. We order our plants from local native nurseries. We often work with the Kingston Land Trust and Hudson Valley Bee Habitat (that we both love) to create pollinator-friendly areas. We would love to see the Kingston area be more food (forest) resilient and we believe having free access to nutritious and healthy food is a right. From this goal we are currently creating a non-profit called Future Farms with Jared Williams and Elizabeth Guthrie and many more, that will do just that.
Can you share any exciting projects you have coming up?
Thanks to the great community we are in, we have been trusted with amazing projects. Soon the Y Park will open to the community! Located behind the YMCA, this is a natural playground that was designed with the Kingston YMCA Farm Project and the YMCA community. The playground provides a play space from youth to adults (outdoor fitness). The other phase of this project will provide community outdoor space.
With Harambee, the Kingston Land Trust, the Kingston YMCA Farm project, the City of Kingston, and Growing Films, we participated in the youth-led design of The Pine Street African Burial Ground in Kingston that was presented to the community at the Ulster County Restorative Justice and Community Empowerment Center in March 2020. We are currently working with Harambee to develop the design.
We also recently won a sculpture competition with Caroline Mardok organized by Worthless Studios in NYC and will be exhibiting in May outdoors at the Edgar Allan Poe Park in the Bronx “In Honor of Black Lives Matter”.
We are currently working with Hudson Valley Bee Habitat, the YMCA Farm Project, and the Kingston Land Trust on a community pollinator sculpture garden, on Gross Street near the JFK Elementary School and along the Kingston Greenline.
As Future Farms we started to gather from the community a vision for a lot on Franklin Street and will be installing pollinator friendly plants at Village Hall in New Paltz.
How did you get involved with Hudson Valley Current?
Through my work at the Woodstock Land Conservancy, I met the Woodstock Transition Movement people and was very inspired by them and their work (still am) and reflected on avenues of resiliency. The economy and its currency are a vital component of the transition. I picked up Livelihood magazine and started to inquire, met with Liz Harrington, and never ceased to be involved or supportive since.
Why do you use Currents in your business?
We use Currents because we want to be part of the solution. Every time there is a money transaction there is a choice, a power. We want to use our financial activity to support our community.
Do you have a website where people can learn more about you and your business?
That reminds me that our website needs some serious updating…but here it is: kanlandstudio.com. Do not hesitate to contact us via email and we will be happy to send you our updated portfolio email@example.com.