Sofa Soirée with Propagating Dan
Welcome to our very first Sofa Soirée! Every month we will be catching up with a special guest to talk home, interiors and everything in between.
Seeing as we are on a bit of a garden mission this month we sat down for a tipple with Propagating Dan. Dan was awarded the silver-gilt medal for his show garden “The Garden of Potential” at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2016 and has been named as one of the “hottest garden designers to know” by Elle Decoration. His garden design business creates gardens characterised by a signature playfulness, weaving a clients’ personality into a timeless dream garden. Why shouldn’t your garden, like your home, also express your personality and who you are?!
Divine Savages: Hi Dan, thanks so much for joining us this evening for our very first ever Sofa Soiree! We are delighted to be chatting with you and finding out more about yourself and your gardening style after having discovered our renewed love and appreciation of the great outdoors.
When was the moment you first realised you wanted to work in garden design?
Propagating Dan: It actually crept up on me slowly. I'd studied graphic design, then worked as a tour manager for bands, and my art school training needed an outlet. I started as a maintenance gardener and quite quickly realised how many possibilities there lay in mixing design with plants and spaces. My love of travel and hiking cemented this love of plants and I've been on many plant-hunting trips since around the world.
Divine Savages: We love the idea of plant-hunting trips, something very Indiana Jones about that! 100% agree, as with interior design, the possibilities are endless in the ways you can mix different elements, be that colour, texture, materials. Whilst we focus on the indoors, we love how the garden or outdoor space is becoming much more an extension of the home, and with that comes the opportunity to get really creative.
You describe your style as playful, unique and bold, how has your style evolved over the years?
Propagating Dan: In recent years I've been much more attracted to the idea of using local and readily available materials but in unconventional ways. I feel that in terms of landscaping, that is the holy grail - a mixture of craft and ingenuity. Planting-wise, I've become more drawn to the subtleties of colour and texture in just the foliage of plants, with flowers being an added bonus. My aversion to plant trends is steadfast, however!
Divine Savages: At Divine Savages we are constantly being inspired by nature, where do you draw your inspirations from?
Propagating Dan: It's an unholy concoction! On the one hand, I revere my experiences seeing plants and natural plant combinations in their natural habitat, such as the Paramo in Colombia, Taiwan's high peaks and the Kyrgyzstani Steppe. On the other hand, I'm a lover of the clash of Postmodern architecture, of artifice and patternation. It can end up in some interesting places!
Divine Savages: What is the best piece of garden advice you have received?
Propagating Dan: That all of gardening is an experiment. All gardeners end up killing plants. The aim is to learn and adapt.
Divine Savages: Am so glad you said that, as we’ll be honest – we’ve killed quite a lot of plants over the years-albeit not intentionally! It’s definitely a learning curve, and when it goes right it’s so rewarding!
Divine Savages: Do you bring the outdoors into your own home?
Propagating Dan: Yes, all the time! I don't think there's a day in the year when there isn't at least a posy of flowers from the garden in our kitchen or dining room. Usually scented. I have plenty of house plants too, including a delicious wax flower that wraps around the exposed joists in our bathroom.
Divine Savages: Our houseplant collection has grown over the years, the ones we can keep alive anyway, and they add such a rich texture to a space, no matter how small – a shelf, a window ledge, in planters on the floor. Bathrooms are a great place to start!
Divine Savages: What is your interior style?
Propagating Dan: We live in an architect-designed house from the 60s, which had never been updated when we moved in, thankfully. We're adding our take on the original style slowly, room by room, and we're almost there. So, fundamentally 60s/70s vibes with some 20s/90s tweaks!
Divine Savages: So lucky it hadn’t been updated, so many places had all the good bits ripped out – we’ve been steadily adding the period features back to our Victorian place and the house feels complete again.
Divine Savages: What is your interior guilty pleasure? We all have one ;)
Propagating Dan: I am in love with our upstairs toilet. It is made from old, but new (as in never used) components of all different colours, which we chose at Broken Bog in Hampshire. A visit is a must. It's a great day out.
Divine Savages: This sounds a dream day out to us! As colour lovers it’s great to see bathroom companies taking note that it doesn’t always need to be white porcelain – we’re also huge fans of Burlington Bathroom’s new Bespoke range.
Divine Savages: It’s been so great chatting with you Dan, thanks for joining us for our first Sofa Soirée, before you leave can we ask you - would you describe your style as more divine, more savage or a bit of both?!
Propagating Dan: Definitely a bit of both! My inspirations come from earnest spiritual moments in nature mixed in with some skip diving and disposable items preserved for posterity.
Divine Savages: Sounds the perfect mix of divine and savage to us!
Check out Dan’s Instagram for more plant-hunting and garden design bursting with personality – just how we like it!
Make sure you join us next month for another edition of Sofa Soirée!