While there is hope and optimism on the horizon as the easing of lockdown approaches, there’s still uncertainty about the possibility of travelling abroad this year. According to the Amex Trend report, people are missing travel so much that it’s taking an emotional toll and impacting their wellbeing, with nearly half (48%) of respondents citing that not being able to travel makes them feel anxious and stressed. We partnered with The Joy of Plants for our latest project to reveal how you can transform your home with houseplants to immerse yourself in another country, even if you’re planning a staycation at home.
The solution? Armchair travelling. The concept of armchair travel involves experiencing faraway places from the comfort of your own home – whether that’s reading a book, watching a documentary, or listening to the music from a particular country to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds without stepping a single foot outside your front door.
With many restrictions still in place and no sign of them easing soon, we want to showcase the power of Houseplant Travel. Houseplant Travel involves embracing native houseplants from countries across the world and pairing them with signature interior design trends to transform a space in your home and transport you to the shores of a faraway destination. Creating two distinct and beautiful looks, Igor took inspiration from Brazil while Judith chose South Africa. We both authentically capture the flora and style of each country, with houseplants firmly in the spotlight. Let’s kick off with our first destination: Brazil!
Can you tell us more about the look you have created?
IGOR: I wanted to create a Brazilian jungle inspired by the lush foliage of the Amazonian jungle paired with carefully selected accessories that represent traditional Brazilian craftsmanship and contemporary Brazilian design alike. My colour scheme was simple: I wanted the various green hues to dominated in combination with earthy nuances and color pops here and there.
What inspired you to choose Brazil?
IGOR: I chose Brazil because I fell in love with the country after my first visit while working on our PLANT TRIBE book. I was fascinated by the lush native flora and I realized that many favorite houseplants in our part of the world actually originate from Brazil. I was also intrigued by Brazilian design, craftsmanship and the indigenous artisans. And last but not least, I am married to a Brazilian. Need I say more? 🙂
What are your favourite houseplants to feature in the look and why?
IGOR: I will admit, I have a soft spot for the gigantic Philodendron Selloum. Its huge leaves on long, thick stems really transport me directly to the Amazonian jungle. Sitting under its green canopy I feel like I am waiting any minute to hear the raindrops fall on its umbrella sized leaves. I also love the beautiful bromeliads with their pink colour and tiny purple blooms. I remember those growing everywhere in Brazil, typically as epiphytes on big trees. Also the Philodendron Tortum is a favorite for its very unusual foliage in the Philodendron family. And the Calathea Burle Marxii is dear to my heart as it’s named after one of my favorite Brazilian artists and landscape designers, Roberto Burle Marx.
How are elements of Brazil reflected in the design and styling?
IGOR: Brazil is literally everywhere in the final styling! All the plants are native to Brazil and most of the accessories actually come from Brazil – I brought them myself from my five Brazilian trips so far such as various baskets made by indigenous people, the wooden armadillo made of Brasil wood, the soapstone vase from the state of Minas Gerais and more . Even the vintage olive green leather sofa is a piece by Brazilian designer Percival Lafer from the 1970s.
What is a unique feature or quality of houseplants native to Brazil?
IGOR: Houseplants native to Brazil are mostly used to filtered, indirect light and higher humidity as most of them grow in the native jungles (Amazonian, Atlantic Forest etc.) and are covered by taller trees. Thus this plants are quite ideal for most homes with good indirect light – no need for full south side sunshine!
What is your top styling tip houseplants native to Brazil?
IGOR: Pair the plants with earthy accessories made of natural materials such as plant fibers, stones, clay. Keep the colour scheme to the earthy side and add pops of colours here and there, either with accessories or blooming plants native to Brazil such as orchids or Heliconias or colourful bromeliads.
What is your top care tip for houseplants native to Brazil?
IGOR: Make sure to keep the humidity high for your tropical plants. I tend to mist them every other day just to give them the good feeling of being almost like at home in Brazil!
In your opinion, how do houseplants help us ‘travel’ and achieve that holiday feeling from home?
IGOR: In these challenging times where traveling is almost impossible, plants helped me bringing a holiday feeling to my apartment. I truly believe that plants in general help us unwind and relax, find our inner balance after a hectic day and nurture our well-being as well as our creativity. All those aspects I aim for in good holidays too. So they do the trick for me!
What would be your main advice for those wanting to recreate this look at home?
IGOR: Mind my crazy Brazilian jungle, you don’t have to go over the top for the same feeling at home! Pick just a few plants, if your space allows, go for bigger and more mature plants. Place them in an ideal corner and add a few natural accessories like clay planters or woven baskets, make sure you have a cosy place to sit and grab your favorite book, a drink in your hand, and travel away! Bon voyage or better yet: boa viagem!
If you could choose another country to (houseplant) travel to, what one would it be and why?
IGOR: I think I would go to Indonesia for its lush tropical jungles, volcanoes, all the palm trees and its rich culture!
With limited travel opportunities this year and stuck at home we all suffer from some kind of (healthy!) fever: PLANT FEVER! More than ever, we adopt plants and learn how to care for them while we work, eat, live, socialize virtually, all from the comfort of our homes. Plant Fever is also the title of this interesting exhibition at the CID Grand Hornu in Belgium, that focuses on the hidden potential of plants. The exhibition “Plant Fever Towards a Phyto-centred Design” curated by studio d-o-t-s, explores how designers, artists and engineers incorporate plants and plant derived materials in their work and how plants function as resources, pets and allies.
PLANTS AS RESOURCES
Plants are essential to our survival on Earth. Not only do we need them to breathe and eat, but we also depend on them to dress, shelter, and heal ourselves. Their features constitute the basis for practical ancestral know-how, and the materials they provide us with are at the core of our economies. Yet, despite this, we often disrespect and overexploit them to the detriment of both human and non-human communities. Lately, however, the consequences of our behaviours have prompted several designers to reconsider their role in the wasteful consumerist society we live in. Alarmed by the growing Climate Emergency, many of them are now exploring more holistic approaches to the material resources we make use of. Compostable vegetal matters are slowly replacing plastics, projects seeking symbiotic relationships with plants are on the rise and objects repurposing by-products of non-virtuous monoculture models are blooming.
PLANTS AS ALLIES
The recent findings that suggest that plants are sentient beings; the ongoing climate crisis linked to the Anthropocene; the ethical debate around artificial intelligence, plant engineering and synthetic biology: all these new perspectives are shaking up the Western world’s vision of human supremacy over everything else, including the vegetal realm. Informed by novel scientific discoveries and stimulated by growing moral concerns regarding non-human beings, designers, artists and engineers have started to look into the uncovered capabilities of plants to imagine a future in which thinking like them and collaborating with them could become the new norm. While in most cases their goals remain closely human-centred, these explorations are leading the way towards a more vegetal-conscious approach to design which goes beyond plant’s instrumentalisation and mechanisation.
PLANTS AS PETS
Helped by the advent of modern architecture – which provided suitably open, bright and warm interiors – in the course of the 20th century plants have become ubiquitous in our domestic and office environments where they have been assigned a mainly decorative role. Since the early 2010s, though, the motivations driving us towards the vegetal kingdom seem to have shifted away from the merely ornamental. Plants have become therapeutic feel-good companions that help us escape the alienating condition of urban life. Described by some as symptomatic of the millennials’ generation and its widespread use of social media, the current trend of lushlyvegetated interiors mixes the desire for highly Instagrammable settings with a sincere thirst for botanical knowledge and a need to embrace otherness. Sensitive to this change, designers have started to invent DIY devices meant to reconnect us with plants and to create pots and containers intended for precise specimens.
It’s possible that you recognize the Phytophiler by Studio Dossofiorito below (we wrote about it here). Admiring your plants from the magnifying glasses is truly magical… as long you don’t spot thrips, mealy bugs or other pests!
Now that nearly half the world’s population is under some form restriction as governments move to stop the spread of coronavirus, we’re launching the Stay Home with Plants challenge on Instagram. Our daily routines completely shifted and we all try our best to adjust to the new situation of working, cooking, exercising, keeping in touch with friends and family via Face Time, Skype, Zoom or Houseparty… from the comfort of our own home. Never before have we all spent so much time at home. Together with our plants! Yesterday we kicked of the first daily topic “Plants & Coffee” and it was an overwhelming success. Hundreds of Urban Jungle Bloggers shared their coffee & plants ritual on Instagram and in Instagram Stories.
Start your day with a quiet moment in the company of your plants. Have your coffee, tea, or even breakfast quietly with your plants. Slowly welcome a new day of opportunities and changes, because life is in constant flux. Observe the changes in your plants and embrace the changes in your life. This will be beneficial for your plants, too, as they will enjoy the daily moment of your presence.
Join us during April with your interpretation of ‘STAY HOME WITH PLANTS’ on Instagram and we will be sharing our highlights on our Instagram feed and in our Instagram stories. Let’s make staying at home as good as we can! Keep your plants happy and they will keep you happy too. Promised! For more about the positive power of plants, check our new book PLANT TRIBE which is all about this magic phenomenon!
Traveling is one of our favorite sources of inspiration. Yes, also for us plant people. Because whenever we travel we like to discover the ‘green side’ of each city or country. This goes from the obvious like leafy parks and lush botanical gardens, over plant-filled cafés and restaurants to cool plant shops and green hotels. The same happened when we traveled to the Croatian capital Zagreb recently. The weekend city trip was filled with green discoveries and a fantastic visit to a close by national park. Despite the rainy weather we enjoyed green sights, delicious flavors and abundant nature in Croatia. Let us show you some of our highlights!
Kaptol Boutique Cinema & Bar:Just a few steps from the old town you will find the Kaptol. Boutique Cinema & Bar. Don’t be scared by the fact that this cool café belongs to a cinema and is located in a shopping mall. The cinema features a WOW Bar with a cool tower of old light signs and movie quotes as well as a lush green café with a line up of tall fiddle figs and other plants. However, be warned that this area is smoke-friendly (as quite often in Croatia).
Dizajn Cvijeca Sasa Sekoranja & Velvet Black & White: When it comes to plant & floral design, Sasa Sekoranja is the name in Zagreb. He runs a boutique with eclectic floral designs, and two adjacent cafés invite the visitors to have a little break – the White Velvet and Black Velvet bar featuring some nice plants and great coffee and sweets.
Swanky Monkey Garden: The Swanky Monkey Garden is part of the Swanky Mint Hostel and features multiple bars, terraces, a winter dome and pool parties in summer. Do we need to add that it is full of plants as well? Get your cocktail and enjoy it in a really cool urban spot in Zagreb!
Greenery Procaffe: This hipster café features hanging plants all around and a relaxed urban atmosphere. Great for a drink in the evening or a coffee during the day – but be warned: it gets packed in the evening and here again, it is a smoke friendly place.
Botaničar:Just opposite the botanical garden this café invites its guests with a little group of cacti and other plants in front of the door. The café itself has a very cozy atmosphere with some nice greenery to make you feel right at home as a plant lover. If we can reduce the number of smokers, we would even stay there for much longer! Great for a short stop-over when you visit the botanical garden!
Botanic Garden: Zagreb’s botanic garden is small but still worth visiting if you are a a plant loving person. This garden struggles with financial support as it does not belong to the city but it is actually a botanical garden of the university. The few greenhouses are in poor conditions and not open to public, but the garden itself features a beautiful selection of plants including some really old trees considered as plant fossils. A smaller greenhouse houses water plants, bromeliads, Nepenthes and other humidity loving species.
Le Bistro Esplanade: Le Bistro is one of the two restaurants in Zagreb’s chic Esplanade Hotel. The bistro has a French vibe with a winter garden style, large leafy plants and delicious food! Try some local dishes and local wines – the Chardonnay is exquisite! Do not skip the sweets – the selection is refined and the desserts themselves scrumptious!
Basta Gourmet Bar: If you’re looking for the best pizza in town, follow the plants along the patio to the terrace of Basta, just around the corner from the flower square. If the weather allows, pick your favorite wood oven pizza and enjoy it on the green terrace. If it’s too cold or raining (like in our case), order one of the local Croatian craft beers and one of the delicious Basta pizzas and cozy up inside. Dobar tek!
Donos Art Apartment: This apartment located in Zagreb’s city center is quite a place to stay. Why? Well first of all: it has 11 beds! Yes, 11 beds! So if you plan a group trip to Zagreb, book this place! But even if you are only two, you can feel almost royal in the spacious apartment. We admit, plants are a bit scarce in this apartment (but we heard it is mostly because some visitors were not so nice to the plants), but the missing plants are made up by art. The apartment is filled with art from local and regional artists and yes, every piece is for sale too. So you won’t only feel comfortabel there, but also like living in a gallery. Not bad!
Plitvice Lakes: This is truly a highlight and should not be missing on your travel itinerary! Even if you go just for a weekend to Zagreb, do not miss a day trip to the Plitvice Lakes National Park. This is considered Croatia’s most beautiful national park and we agree even without knowing the other national parks! Why? Because the moment you arrive there you will be awe struck by the beautiful landscape. the roaring waterfalls and the crystalline waters. You can tour the park for 2-3 hours along trailing paths, you can take an electric(!) boat and a bus within the park to roam around. We strongly recommend to visit this park off season as it does get very crowded in summer. Autumn is a great choice! Expect some moody fog, low hanging clouds and colorful foliage. We loved it very much! The Unesco World Heritage site, since 1979, has a sustainable approach to tourism, with electric transportation and nature trails marked with all natural materials and there are several eco lodges in the park. Moreover, this national park features more than 50 endemic orchid species – so be prepared for your botanical expedition!
This trip was organized in collaboration with the Croatian Tourism Organization.
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Today we are happy to share with you yet another inspiring green home story by our friends Freunde von Freunden. They visited the creative and lush home of spatial designer Ruth Bartlett in Berlin and examined how she grounds herself through every day rituals – one of them being her devotion to beautiful houseplants. Have a look!
Ruth Bartlett’s apartment sits on the top floor of a building surrounded by the perfect mix of nature and unique structures. The interior landscape of her home reflects that same balance: a bright, open space filled with plants and rustic wood pieces along with modern creations of her own design.
There’s no one way to describe the décor of Ruth’s home; modern, classic, earthy—a testament to her love of experimentation. Natural elements and handcrafted touches are intertwined throughout to tell the story of the progression of the London-born designer’s career.
Bartlett’s passion for spatial design was planted in her early on. “I think I drove my parents crazy as a kid because I would make floor plans of their house for them and then I would design their garden, telling them how they were doing things wrong—I think I was really precocious!”
By exploring and learning about different materials and processes or working with new crafts people, everything around Bartlett factors into the way she designs. “Every space you walk into lights up two more positions in your brain. That’s why it’s such a joy,” she says, before adding; “But you never get to turn off because everything you see can be a little idea. When your passion and your hobby is your work, then there is no off-time!”
Although her home is supposedly her space away from her professional life there are signs around the place she can never really get away from it all. As Bartlett points to the block color paint on the walls and a shelf hanging by the front door she describes how her design choices began as budding ideas for projects. “It’s where I like to test things, little ideas, shapes, color combinations,” she says, enthused.
But while design will always be a part of her life, she’s also conscious that sometimes it’s good to take some time to appreciate the space that’s already around her. “To live in a city where one can get close to nature, especially with the dog, it’s a huge bonus. There’s a lot of space to be outdoors and be peaceful for a change, I think it’s my favorite pastime. Just add food, wine, and good friends.”
For more from this interview with Ruth Bartlett, head over to the full version over at Freunde von Freunden, and if you’d like to take a look at the German version read it on the Manufactum website.
Text: Serita Braxton for FvF Productions. Photos: Dan Zoubek for FvF Productions