One of Mark Taylor’s designs, a fountain garden deck. Photo courtesy of Mark Taylor
One of Mark Taylor’s designs, a fountain garden deck. Photo courtesy of Mark Taylor
Mark Taylor in his element — with plants. Photo by Marshall Smith
Mark Taylor in his element — with plants.
Photo by Marshall Smith

“For me, all design is emotional,” said landscape designer Mark Taylor. “I have to be patient and allow the design to generate. By listening and being slow, the land speaks to me.”

Taylor forges landscapes, working with both the massive and the delicate — the boulders and the trickling water, steel girders and wooden decks. He brings his experience teaching martial arts into his work as a designer. “I don’t force the design. I wait. When I feel connected to God and life I don’t need to take anything from anyone. I take responsibility.”

Taylor said his call to landscape design came early, at the age of 7, seeing a brochure with plants characteristic of the Idyllwild area. What made that odd was that at the time he and his family were living in Hawaii. “I felt drawn to those spaces with those plants.”

In 1983, Taylor and his sister attended Elliott Pope Preparatory School in Idyllwild. After graduating as valedictorian, Taylor attended Santa Monica Junior College and spent one year at the University of Southern California studying mechanical engineering. “I realized I didn’t need to be in the academic setting,” he remembered. “I needed to be in a shop, bending metal and making things. I came back to Idyllwild because I liked the mountain. I needed to have one foot in the wilderness and one in society.

“I started working for David Reid-Marr, a great designer and a very spiritual man. He opened up quite a big world for me — touching the land, welding metal, creating water courses, experiencing construction and design.”

Taylor said Reid-Marr’s influence was profound. “In terms of artistic vision, David sees things quickly,” he said. “But that is not me. For me there is a fog. I have to be patient, spend time in the land until the land speaks to me and the fog burns off. Then the ideas come and I don’t compromise.”

Taylor is much like his design work — strong and gentle, fierce and soft-spoken, methodical and considerate. His current projects are both on Hill, with residential design work in landscaping and deck construction, and off-Hill with “green wall, living architecture” projects for corporate clients like Loewe’s Hotel in Santa Monica. He said he is intrigued with building living walls of plants for large buildings. “It’s both engineering and medicine,” he noted. “Getting it installed requires logistical measurements, bolt placements and heavy equipment. Then it becomes emergency medicine — how to keep the plants alive.”

And it is this thoughtful balance — combining the engineering and the medicine — Taylor brings to all his projects that gives them their characteristic individuality.

In addition to teaching, Taylor is also involved in local theater as an actor, set designer and builder. He heads a local men’s group and can be found on certain
Sundays leading a drum circle.

For more information about Taylor’s landscape and building site design, see