In celebration of the milestone 20th anniversary of the National Design Awards, this week’s Object of The Day posts honor National Design Award winners.

Completed in 2013, Monk’s Garden is a small garden on the grounds of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates took their inspiration for the garden’s design from the “meandering gallery layout” and “idiosyncratic collection” of the museum, and they sought to create a space that facilitated contemplation.  To that end, the garden was designed around winding paths that sometimes meet but do not intersect.  These paths form groves that encompass nearly 60 trees, including paper bark maple and gray birch, as well as nooks for garden chairs.  This early sketch for Monk’s Garden was executed by Van Valkenburgh during a discussion with an intern about the project in preparation for creating a model.  The fluid, evocative lines of the sketch are typical of Van Valkenburgh’s drawing style.  Drawn on a yellow filing folder found on his desk, this spontaneous sketch is a reminder of the nuances of design that can be best conveyed through drawing.

Caitlin Condell is the Associate Curator and Head of Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

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