Design: Greening the Office


Design: Greening the Office

Air-cleaning, mood-boosting, fun-loving plants for work

Plants improve the air quality in buildings and boost the creativity, positive mood states and performance of those who work near them: good enough reasons for anyone to add plants to the office bottom line. On-line publisher Mama Mia also wanted to express its sense of fun and attention to work-life balance through a bit of office-scaping and asked us to help.

We came up with an easy-care option with maximum flexibility, visual interest and textural appeal. The starting point was the stainless steel trays filled with pebbles that are the base for table-displays of plants and for tiers of shelves that offer height and scale to the space. The grouped displays gave us the opportunity to make an impact in the large open office and to play with texture combinations to build interesting ‘mini-gardens’.


The plant groups are also flexible. Workers can choose a plant to have on their desk for a few days, before swapping it for another. The individual potted plants can be moved around or changed completely so that the display never becomes static, or mere green wallpaper, but has the potential to be as dynamic as an outdoor garden. As a practical bonus, the trays capture any run-off generated through watering, which then evaporates through the pebbles, humidifying the atmosphere.


To feature on the table and shelf displays we chose plants that don’t mind lower light levels and don’t need constant water or attention. These include the slim vertical forms of a few different species of Sansevieria. (This plant used to be called mother-law’s-tongue, but in these more enlightened times is transitioning to the common name snakeskin plant.) The zigzag foliage of a flowering epicactus arches from the shelves, Bromeliads add their explosive forms, and there are big-leafed Philodendron ‘Congo’ and Fiddle Leaf Figs as contrast. Colours are mostly lush green, with a dash of variegation in the yellow and lime Devil’s Ivy tumbling from the top tiers and the variegated Tradescantia sp. making a tangle of silver and purple.

A variety of pot finishes adds to the textual interest and for whimsy we added a faux-glasshouse backdrop – and a plastic pet flamingo. The result is fun, practical, good-looking, mood-boosting and healthy.


Robin Powell

Pictures: Nicholas Watt

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