My grandfather came to the United States from Norway in the 1920’s when he was a young man. Throughout my life, I’ve identified with my Norwegian heritage, and have had an interest in the culture, landscape and language of this small Nordic country.
|A sunny afternoon on the Oslo fjord|
I first visited Norway in 1994. During that visit, I traveled across the country and saw the glaciers, fjords and waterfalls that the country is famous for, and I was hooked. It was some time before my next visit, but in the early spring of 2002 I returned for a week’s vacation. I spent time in Oslo and traveled again cross country (its a small country) through the mountains to the west coast. In early spring the days were short and there was snow on the ground, but the countryside was just as majestic as I had remembered. This trip was the catalyst for an incredible change in my life. I decided to take a break from my job and spend that summer living and studying in Oslo.
|Hiking Bessegen, one of the most popular trails in Norway|
During that summer I got to experience life as many Norwegians do, through nature. My mornings were spent in class, and afternoons were spent hiking or swimming at a local lake. Weekends brought trips to the mountains to hike or raft down the rivers. I spent evenings sailing around the Oslo fjord with friends. There is a concept in Norway, and other Scandinavian cultures, called “friluftsliv”. I heard this word during my summer there, and understood it to mean an appreciation for outdoor life. There are many translations of this term, but I like to think of it as a combination of respect for nature, an instinct to conserve the land, and an appreciation for the restorative value of being outdoors.
|After rafting the Sjoa River in Jutenheim National Park|
Now, 10 years later, my perspective as a landscape designer is no doubt influenced by my summer in Norway. My mission, as a designer, is to create spaces that encourage people to unplug and go outside, to observe and conserve nature, and to enjoy all of the mental and physical benefits that go along with free air life.