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Deceptive Garden

Deceptive Garden planter sketch by Chris Brandel

I stopped by the Deceptive Design: Experiments In Furniture exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center recently and came across this piece titled Deceptive Garden by Chicago based furniture designer Chris Brandel. I'm the kind of guy that will assemble something first and then read the instruction manual so I didn't know what I was looking at until after I'd seen the piece and then read the artist statement and the statement on the exhibit.

Deceptive Garden, Urban Gardening planter front view

Walking up to the Deceptive Garden it looked just like an ordinary planter that you could find in a furniture store or garden center that sells modern outdoor furniture.

Deceptive Garden, Urban gardening planter side view

The side view of the Deceptive Garden gave me the impression that it was a potting bench.

Deceptive Gardening, Urban gardening planter storage area

My impression was reinforced by the side panels of the Deceptive Garden that come off to reveal a compartment for storage.

Deceptive Garden, Urban gardening planter, view of planter

A close-up of the planter area of the Deceptive Garden. The plant is fake in case you're wondering

Deceptive Garden, Urban gardening planter's self

A close-up of the shelf/table of Deceptive Garden.

Deceptive Garden, Urban Garden planter back view

The rear view of the Deceptive Garden showing the bars that prop the shelf/table up when it is being used.

Artist Statement by Chris Brandel:

The Deceptive Garden is an exploration in maximizing the small balcony and sidewalk spaces that are often found in an urban environment such as Chicago. As urban gardening becomes more popular to grow one's own fresh herbs, vegetables and flowers, the space to keep the tools and materials for the planting and upkeep are often non-existent on a typical balcony, let alone having room for a cozy table for two in order to enjoy the precious summer evenings.

The Deceptive Garden allows city dwellers to have such a luxury. By removing the side panels of the Garden, a storage space is revealed that can be used for bags of soil, gardening tools and other such items. Furthermore, the front panel of the garden swings up to serve as a table for a romantic dinner or as a workbench for the spring planting.

I couldn't find any info on this item being produced for sale which is unfortunate because I really think it is a good idea for urban gardeners wanting to garden in small spaces like patios, porches and decks. Although I'd probably add wheels to make it easier to move around if you used the space for multiple reasons. If you're handy enough you could probably build something pretty similar that serves the same purpose for your urban garden.

I could even see a planter like this being made of really durable materials and installed in high density areas like Down Town Chicago where tourist and worker bees on lunch breaks could step up to the Deceptive Garden and have their lunch.

Another area something like this would be a vast improvement would be in those annoying "sidewalk cafes" that pop up like dandelions on the sidewalks of Chicago in the spring and summer. Most of them already use rectangular planters similar to this to block off the sidewalk leaving us pedestrians fighting for room on two feet of concrete or falling off the curb.

If you're a fan of design or just want to see the other furniture in this exhibit check out


  1. Cool design, but I would add wheels too.

  2. How sweet is this? I could use it on my screen porch...only I need about 7 of them for all my succulents! (For beauty's sake of course)!!!

  3. Pretty cool!
    I am also one who assembles, then reads the instructions.

  4. Anonymous9:31 AM

    Hi! I just found this website this morning and I must say I LOVE IT. I especially enjoyed the Home Depot Blog! I'll be checking back here a lot!

  5. This is cool!

    I put things together just like you do. :-)

  6. Very nice looking. Could even be used indoors in the winter by a sunny window to grow herbs, or grow lights could be added.

  7. I like the concept but the name? "Deceptive" anything grabs my attention but in a negative way. Maybe the artist needs a PR person or creative writer to come up with a more sensible trademark. Otherwise, it's a good idea.

  8. Interesting planter.

  9. I like YOUR ideas for this design and its usage! The city of Chicago needs you to spearhead a "beautification through urban gardening" committee! :)



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