The Creatives: Landscape architect Justin Lemoine
On his balcony looking down to a sun-splashed beach, Justin Lemoine’s eyes bolted from his coffee cup to the meandering line of a sand fence, its weathered picket boards jutting up from the dunes below. Suddenly, there in the placid center of well-earned R&R from long hours as principal of a successful landscape architecture firm, came a big new idea that wouldn’t leave him be.
“I thought, ‘Now that fence could be interesting as a ceiling for an outdoor arbor or some kind of feature wall,’ so I spent the next two days sketching and brainstorming ideas on how to use it,” Lemoine says. “That almost always happens when I’m traveling or out of the normal routine. For me, experiencing new things and places is the biggest inspiration.”
So ditch that coffee shop where you’re a “regular.” Lemoine suggests finding new places to think creatively, going for a drive in a different part of town, and attending social events that attract diverse groups of people.
This desire for novel experiences is why the designer for the North Boulevard Town Square revitalization—“We saw this chance to make an amazing little space do great things,” he recalls—and co-founder of the monthly Mid City Makers Market likes to juggle such a variety of projects.
From the babbling brook at White Oak Landing to Curbside Burgers’ shabby chic backyard, and the geometric murals at FLAIM—where his children attend school—to any number of modern, nature-inspired backyards, Lemoine’s vision is vast.
Inspired by college trips to Central Park and every major green space on the Eastern Seaboard, as well as by his big extended Catholic family that never needed a reason to gather or celebrate or cook, he’s drawn most to creating communal, multipurpose spaces that encourage friends and strangers alike to do the same.
“If you’re creative in any way but not around people a lot or exposed to other perspectives through interaction, you’re going to get the same results [in your work],” Lemoine says. “I know staying open-minded helps my designs a lot.”
Lemoine’s creativity is evident at his market, where vendors, art installations, music and food offerings bring crowds to the formerly unused space wrapping around his studio’s Mid City office.
He doesn’t draw a profit from the event, but considers it a group project with people who have become like family and friends.
“Everyone should have more chances to interact with other people who are doing things,” Lemoine says. “When you plug in with someone who’s not the same as you, some magical stuff can happen.”