At a landscape design event 15 years ago, Kathryn Herman and James Doyle bonded over their mutual appreciation of esoteric European gardens—a conversation that laid the groundwork for their future collaborations. Today the landscape designers’ namesake firm remains rooted in Greenwich, Conn., where it began, but its projects extend across the Northeast and to other parts of the country and the world. Whether overseeing a formal parterre in France or a contemporary garden in the Middle East, Herman and Doyle, with the support of their staff, work in perfect harmony, presumably finishing each other’s sentences from time to time as they did when they spoke with Robb Report Home & Style. Our talk took place less than a year after the May 2013 opening of the firm’s office in West Hollywood, Calif. “We’re working on about seven projects throughout Southern California,” says Herman. “It’s a huge area of growth for us,” adds Doyle, “and it’s nice to work in such a range of styles and climates.”
How do you divide your time between project locations?
KH: Most of our work is in the Northeast, but we’re in Los Angeles every month. We work on the East Coast from Maine to Florida and abroad throughout France, Lake Como, London, Abu Dhabi, and Ireland. We’re very global.
What are the differences between working on the East and West Coasts?
JD: In the Northeast, architectural styles are very traditional with little punctuations of modern elements. In California the vernacular is more open: You get a wider variety of styles—Mediterranean, Arts and Crafts, modern, traditional—and the topography can be anything from a steep vertical slope to totally flat.
How do your landscape designs take shape?
KH: It’s more than just choosing the plants. We’ll work with architects, interior designers, engineers, and contractors and designate everything from hardscaping, outdoor furniture, swimming pool design, and fabrics to the exterior paint colors.
Do your designs have a signature look?
JD: Our clients are people who want something unique, so we never do things cookie-cutter. We do what’s appropriate for the home. One way we excel is that we’re able to help the clients achieve the vision they have for the property but also challenge them to push the boundaries of that vision.
Kathryn Herman’s and James Doyle’s Top 10s
- FLORAL ARRANGEMENT: (KH) Dahlias in all shades. (JD) Dahlias. I grow them in all colors!
- INDOOR PLANT: (KH) Begonias—especially those with unusual leaves. (JD) Most orchids.
- HISTORIC GARDEN: (KH) The Hollister House Garden in Litchfield County is a charming Connecticut garden with great bones. (JD) Parc André Citroën, Paris. The underlying geometry is modernist, and there’s a great transition from urban to rural.
- SWIMMING POOL COLOR: (KH) Medium gray. It is very natural looking without screaming “swimming pool.” (JD) Black. Mine is dark, and I love the reflective quality.
- ART: (KH) Ring by Mauro Staccioli. (JD) Anything from the British artist Antony Gormley, but I particularly love Event Horizon from 2007.
- MUSEUM: (KH) The Glyptothek in Munich. It’s spare in its simplicity of building and art. (JD) The Tate Modern in London.
- HOTEL: (KH) Number Sixteen in London. It’s a stylish hotel in a great location with proximity to the Chelsea Flower Show. (JD) The Merrion hotel in Dublin.
- RESORT: (KH) I just came back from the Amanbagh in Rajasthan, India, where I celebrated my birthday. (JD) The Chedi Muscat, Oman.
- OUTDOOR FURNITURE: (KH) Munder-Skiles offers unique and historic designs that work in almost any garden. (JD) Royal Botania’s O-Zon line.
- OUTDOOR FABRIC: (KH) DeLany & Long has a great subtle color palette that integrates well with the outdoors. (JD) DeLany & Long. Doyle Herman Design Associates, 203.869.2900, 310.657.6600, www.dhda.com