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Talking to Olivier Riols forces you to admire. This all-rounder, passionate about nature and unparalleled entrepreneur, has orchestrated the staging of gardens, terraces and balconies for over thirty years. From Paris via Goa or Algiers, plants flourish under his fingers as if by magic! Meeting with an extraordinary personality.
Has gardening always been obvious to you?
Let's say that I started late, if we compare my career with that of certain colleagues. I first headed for law, before working for a few years in the banking sector. However, I felt that my passion for gardening was taking over! So I stopped everything to learn the trade alongside a landscaper who trained me for several months. A year later, I launched my own structure…
For almost thirty years, you have diversified into many fields of activity ...
It is true that I like to try new experiences ... I always have a thousand and one ideas in mind! The key to my work lies in knowing how to constantly adapt to this changing world, so I must be attentive to developments in my field. Capsel, our main structure based in Paris, today has around twenty employees who design, create and maintain gardens in France and abroad. The agency also offers a personal assistance service called "Gardener's help". At the same time, I opened a branch on the Basque coast - a region close to my heart - twenty years ago now. I stay there several times a year to design private gardens, which are then laid out by local companies. With the opening of the Botanique Editions online store and the Jardins Jardin event which is held each year at the Tuileries, my days are busy!
What does this event consist of?
Each year in June, we bring together many garden professionals for a weekend in the fabulous Tuileries Park in Paris. Designers and companies, architects and landscapers, creators and gardening enthusiasts find a unique platform for exchanges, meetings and expression in the heart of the capital! The latest edition brought together over 22,000 visitors, who took advantage of the landscaped installations created for the occasion. These small-scale outdoor spaces allow the public to get inspired, while discovering the latest innovations in outdoor landscaping. Jardins Jardin also welcomes more than 120 exhibitors in the field of creation, outdoor lighting, decoration ... enough to delight visitors who can come and find rare plants or the latest design novelties.
What are your plans for the coming years?
Knowing that 20% of the world's population lives in urban areas today, the big challenge of the coming years will be to successfully integrate plants in the city. What is paradoxical is that we live more and more distant from nature while needing it in our daily life! We are therefore putting in place a whole reflection around biodiversity, as well as the means to put in place to restore to nature all the place it deserves in our urban environment.
What is your conception of the garden today?
I hate the idea of the garden seen from the angle of an additional room ... For me it's much more than that! I think that a landscaped outdoor space, whatever its nature, should arouse emotion when you discover it. Designing a garden is also a personal process, and it is for this reason that I like to speak at length with my clients before starting my drawings. I have to know their desires in order to best reflect their personality! Everyone must feel comfortable there and above all find their way around…