10/12/2017

Maze Man

By Dora Dmitriev

With crisper, more fall-like weather upon us, one starts to think of all the great fall activities to enjoy. A popular activity that comes to mind are corn mazes. Mazes are an entertaining form of recreation. They ultimately give us the same feeling we had from childhood games-they bring about our curiosity and awaken the pathfinder in us all.

Adrian Fisher has grown a successful business from leading people astray. Today, he has more than 700 labyrinths in 35 countries, six of which were included in the Guinness Book of World Records. He basically takes puzzles that you would be solving on the computer and makes them three-dimensional outdoor spaces! His mazes increase the cost of suburban real estate, attract new visitors to fairs and create additional income for rural households.

World's largest hedge maze in Ningbo China by Adrian Fisher

Labyrinths have been around for 3,500 years. In ancient Greece they used rows of stones laid out in a concentric pattern (some have been preserved on the Solovetsky Islands). Shrub labyrinths appeared in the Middle Ages and became a fashionable park amusement among the aristocracy. From today's point of view, their layout was very primitive, but in an era when most people lived very poorly, the maze was considered a great luxury and entertainment. Today, to maintain a park that is large enough to accommodate a small maze, two or three gardeners with modern equipment are sufficient, but earlier it took 50-60 servants to do this and only the generic nobility could afford it. In Europe for the entire 16th century, only a dozen labyrinths were created. Fisher's company "Adrian Fisher Design Ltd" makes this many in a month or two!

Labyrinth on the Solovetsky Islands 

Fisher and his team, whom he taught himself, on average take two months from the time of signing the contract to building a labyrinth. Of course, there are exceptions depending on the materials used and what the client wants (one maze once took 8 years to "grow up.") The prices range from $200 for a portable mathematical labyrinth to $1 million for a labyrinth equipped with the latest technology with waterfalls, an underground passage and a turning bridge like the one that he built for the client on Lake Garda in Italy.

Murray Star Maze by Adrian Fisher

Fisher begins by drawing up a plan and deciding on the material or type of plant to use- this depends on the desired time frame and look he is going for. He complicates labyrinths, adding distracting maneuvers in the form of gates, bridges, etc. He creates water mazes, pop-up mazes, inflatable labyrinths, labyrinths laid out of mirrors, tiles and labyrinths with wooden walls. He designs Scrub labyrinths as well but they require a lot of space that not all clients have.

Aigburth's Otterspool Maze by Adrian Fisher

Aerial view of Aigburth's Otterspool Maze

 

Mirror Maze by Adrian Fisher

Corn serves as a great fast-growing material that adds on an inch per day. The expanse of cornfields gives Fisher complete freedom for creativity. One of Fisher's favorite corn labyrinths is the "Davis Mega Maze" in Sterling, Massachusetts, which was awarded first place by CNN in the list of "field" labyrinths in 2016. His company designs many labyrinths for farms around the world and annually updates them into new forms.

Davis Mega Maze in Sterling, MA.

Fisher believes that the three important elements in designing a successful labyrinth are: a material and technical solution, aesthetic appeal and "crookiness." His mazes are not only a game or leisure, but are also a work of art that combines different functions. He compares the labyrinths with the Eiffel Tower, which is pleasant to look at from a distance, but also captures the spirit when you climb to the top. With this in mind, one of Fisher's mandatory requirements for a labyrinth is that it looks good from above, whether it is from the balcony of the second floor, or even from a helicopter.

Huge maze by Adrian Fisher

Jersey Water Maze by Adrian Fisher

With the growth of the entertainment industry market, there is a growing demand for labyrinths, especially for those that are filled with technical improvements invented by Fisher. "I never cease to be surprised at the flexibility of the labyrinth as a form of creative expression. In a sense, the labyrinth can be anything. It can be summed up under any topic, under any size, and under any terrain," Adrian says. Fisher has many tricks on reserve, because in a good labyrinth you never know what to expect around the bend.