Interviewer – Added to shaping the earth, what other interesting elements or materials you enjoy working with and integrating into your design?
Michael Little – Light is an important entity that I consider highly. Normally a design works well or not depending on how light is reflected through it. No two materials reflect light equally. It’s up to you as a designer to play with light and shadows by choosing materials and their placement within the design.
For example take a granite pillar, the way the light reflects from its rough surface, or the shadows it creates due to its scale, these are important factors. Even the black frame of the arbour is about sun and shadow. The top of it is gleaming with light and the bottom is blackened and then in between, there’s sort of grey. Of course, it’s painted black, but it’s not merely black, it’s only shades of black that can be used as a palette for light-coloured flowers to jump out at you.
Working with natural materials and integrating them into the design is what I enjoy. I think it showcases a deep sense of time and resonates with people, unlike claddings. Bricks reflect the earth and are made out of mud which took millions of years to develop, stone reflects the rocky tops of the mountains, so it evokes emotion with its rustic nature. We tend to go with larger scale materials such as large rocks, boulders, or slabs, that makes a difference because when you see a big step that’s like ten feet long, immediately you feel a sense of awe. It is the same when we see old forts or mantapas in temples right? We see these huge slabs that are way up overhead and wonder how they got those up there.