Keep it simple, stupid!

| November 23, 2010 | 21 Comments

No we are not being rude to you!

It’s that old management principle –

– often shortened to ‘kiss’

that most things are best when they are simplest!

In addressing this Garden Designers Round Table ‘Postathon’

….. regarding dining al fresco………

 …..we could in all conscience have applied the principle to any aspect of dining outside:

 furniture, tableware, tableside plantings, awnings and even menus!

We have however chosen to apply it to what you cook on.

Our starting point being:



Are they serious?

Who needs it?

Get back to your  Michelin Starred kitchen and boss your sous – chef around!

We moved on to:

Jamie Oliver’s Pizza Oven at Chelsea last year.

And he normally does laid back caj~ so well!

But this is still looking a bit testosterone charged and when it’s off duty it’d be like having the proverbial Black Hole of Calcutta chez vous.

More laid back again:

Flemings, the Aussie guys who deliver chic to us Poms at Chelsea Flower Show most years, came up with a kitchen at this year’s show that  James Bond would think cool.

Between the fridge with integral champagne bucket which is against the steps and the cooker and sink at the back is a wet bar:

Cool, but clinical too!

At Chelsea 2009 ( OK guys we do take style tips from elsewhere, but it is billed as The Greatest Flower Show on Earth):

this iron firebox with pendent stainless steel griddle above had a gutsy honest functionality.

But so heavy!

Whereas wafting down from some homeware website this 3 legged ‘space craft’:

would go where we chose….

sun this time

shade the next

near the house if we’re lazy

overlooking the view from the garden’s end

you name the place.

Remembering our starting maxim, we will say no more!

Please go on to view the posts from the select group of our fellow members of The Garden Designer Round Table who have chosen to post on this subject:

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA
Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ
Susan Schlenger : Landscape Design Advice : Hampton, NJ

Robert and Lesley

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Category: Design Bites, Garden Planning, Reviews of Gardens and Shows

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Comments (21)

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  1. Cabernat says:

    Hi Robert

    You are quite right of course. The 3 legged would be best. I do like the look of the Jamie one but I don’t have the house or garden that should go with it, or someone that just comes & keeps it looking so chic.Or come to think of it, someone who will create beautiful food & serve me with wonderfully chilled bottles of champagne.(sigh) Back to reality!!


  2. Robert says:

    Dear Mary,
    Glad you agree with us. What excellent taste we three have!
    Think you should keep the dreams going.
    No one should ever lose hope of having being helplessly spoilt!
    Thanks for your comment
    Best Wishes

  3. Nothing like a nice dose of humor to make the medicine go down! I laughed all the way through this but agree with all your points. I’ve noticed many built-in barbecue islands morph into the outdoor version of a stairmaster – installed with the best of intentions, but just as the exercise equipment ultimately becomes an expensive clothes rack, elaborate outdoor appliances become an extra shelf for garden detritus.

  4. A movable feast…always the best idea!–s

  5. Robert says:

    Now why didn’t we say it like that?
    In just six words?
    Thanks for the comment.

  6. Robert says:

    yes, even things as great as gardening and garden design need humour.
    Couldn’t agree more re the comparison with exercise equipment.
    Suppose one could always dress the outdoor monsters as vehicles for growing plants!?
    Thanks for your comment

  7. I adored your take on this topic! Funny and creative. Thank you. :-)

  8. What a fun look at all the extremes of outdoor kitchens. I imagine at one time, we all had a ‘movable feast’, to quote Susan. While I wouldn’t want to live in the ‘James Bond’ garden/kitchen, it is very neat. Sterile, but still somehow appealing to me. And while I agree with your assessment of Jamie Oliver’s pizza oven, I’d love to have that cabana in my garden.

  9. […] Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ Susan Schlenger : Landscape Design Advice : Hampton, NJ […]

  10. […] Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In the Garden : Los Altos, CA Shirley Bovshow : Eden Makers : Los Angeles, CA Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ Susan Schlenger : Landscape Design Advice : Hampton, NJ […]

  11. Genevieve says:

    Too funny – I’m actually partial to that great honking iron firebox with the stainless grill-thingy on top, but, I admit, I’d only use it a few select times of the year. Sigh. KISS wins.

  12. Robert says:

    Dear Genevieve,
    Thanks for your comment.
    Actually like the iron bit better than the griddle-thingy and think I might even like just to look at it!
    It has sculptural presence.
    But Kiss it is!
    Best Wishes

  13. Robert says:

    Hi Debbie,
    Thanks for commenting.
    The thing about the dark water of the James Bond outfit is that you are waiting for the shark’s dorsal fin to appear above the surface of the water!
    And though I am sure lots of us have shapely pins, lots of us would not relish the view of ourselves sideways though the glass side of the pool.
    But there you go!
    Best Wishes

  14. Robert says:

    Hi, thanks for your comment. Yes we are serious about our job, but you shouldn’t be too serious about anything all the time!
    Interestingly and to our great relief, when we asked yesterday’s clients about BBQs they just wanted space for a .60m diameter (incl cover) BBQ which could be pushed around. Phew!
    Best Wishes

  15. Robert, great perspective! I admit to being in awe of the big bold outdoor kitchens at first glance, but agree with your KISS assessment, for after all it is the food and the company that should star, and not some overcompensating behemoth! :-)

  16. Robert says:

    Frankly i’d be surprised if somebody did actually use that monster.
    But then my life as I lead it is quite simple and low key!
    Thanks for your comment
    Best Wishes

  17. Michelle D says:

    As someone who lives and designs outdoor environments in an environmentally progressive Mediterranean climate, dining al fresco is a way of everyday life.
    To keep it simple, convenient , enjoyable and easy to maintain a modest outside kitchen enriches our quality of living.
    In my neck of the woods most tend to choose either propane or natural gas to fuel the bbq’s. It’s mostly a matter of convenience but in some areas it is in accordance with law to have a clean burning appliance. Charcoal and wood are very heavy polluters and when you have lots of people enjoying their outdoor spaces on a daily basis it is important to have good air quality.
    I tend to cook most of my evening meals on the gas bbq because it a lot easier & faster to do the kitchen prep and clean up out doors rather than indoors . It also keeps the inside of the house cooler which boils down to using a lot less energy.
    This is how we keep it simple in a temperate climate where living outdoors all year round is a way of life.

  18. Robert says:

    Dear Michelle,
    Thanks for your detailed comment.
    There is always a different slant to things isn’t there and I think this is very much a case for that old cliche: ‘horse for courses’!
    Here in the uk through sheer force of the climate we are not so BBQ bound. Accepting the lifestyle difference I of course see that outside kitchens work for you guys. I guess I would still make a plea for low key styling, design wise and I would also like the spontaneity and picnic style of being able to choose the location just sometimes.
    LOved your website and envy you your time at Filoli – great garden!
    Good to hear from you
    Best Wishes

  19. Loved your amusing take on this topic! Too many outdoor kitchens reek of “giganticism” which, according to my old college Art History 101 class, is a sure sign of a collapsing civilization. Here’s to the KISS principle!

  20. Robert says:

    And I loved your amusing comment on our post!
    ‘giganticism is a sure sign of a collapsing civilization’!
    I am going to remember that one for a lull in the conversation at the next cocktail party!
    Great to hear from you jocelyn.

  21. […] Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK […]