What goes into the making of an artist? Whatever it is, Montreal landscape architect Claude Cormier has it in abundance. Though he established his firm, Claude Cormier Architectes Paysagistes Inc., barely 10 years ago, he has garnered clients and design awards from all over the world. Canadians may most strongly identify him with the innovative Blue Stick Garden, which he designed in 2000 for the first Reford International Design Festival, but his other works enrich many of Montreal's stylish venues (including Place Youville, Place des Arts and the promenade in the city's Old Port). Cormier's eclectic designs are identifiable by his use of two strong elements: colour and artifice. Though the latter must be used carefully, he says, colour is a way of creating a stronger experience. He tries “to embrace the quality” of traditional design while developing ideas for contemporary landscapes.
Growing up, Cormier's interests were divided between art and science. This divergence eventually resulted in a degree in agronomy from Ontario's University of Guelph, a bachelor of landscape architecture degree from the University of Toronto and a master's degree in design studies from Harvard. His education, combined with his innate talent, led him to a career designing spaces brimming with history, symbolism, humour and excitement.
Listening to Cormier talk about garden design is much like hearing a painter talk about a canvas. But perhaps all art comes from the same source—the ability to envision the possibilities of an empty space.