Emerging indoor green trends OCTOBER 2013 SALES LEADERS
INNOVATION is all around us and indoor gardening is no exception. Our adventures in gardening are about to get more interesting as a new generation puts its own creative stamp on bringing greenery into home and office environments with high-tech gardening solutions. It won’t herald the end of the ubiquitous African Violet potted plant on the windowsill or desktop, but it will mean a whole new way of introducing people to modern eco-habitats that will transform our indoor surroundings in the 21st century.
Nicolas Rousseau, a 29-year-old Parisborn visionary horticultural engineer who now makes his home in Vancouver, is redefining indoor gardening with stylish products designed to reshape our living and working spaces.
Rousseau is president and co-owner of a company called By Nature Design. Specializing in the distribution of super-chic plant products designed by inventors from countries around the world, the goal of Rousseau and co-owner Fred Collay is to bring nature indoors with everyday plant solutions that can be configured to fit any space without clutter or taking up precious time in maintenance. Collay, 41, also hails from France, joining forces with Rousseau in 2007.
“It’s human nature to have plants,” said Rousseau, “but cities are grey and we need more green inside our living and working environments so that everyone can have a small piece of nature.”
Rousseau, who has a master’s degree in plant physiology and an engineering degree in horticulture, worked in Paris on two projects that involved living-wall technology before accepting a research assistant position in 2009 at the Centre for Architectural Ecology at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). His attention has turned full time to the company he founded in 2011, although this fall he has been involved in the installation of a large living wall at BCIT that will serve as a cutting-edge model for research and testing.
Rousseau designed and developed the first living picture frame in North America for a previous company he owned called Urban Foliage. Using local contractors proved cost prohibitive for mass-market production.
HE and Collay decided to market a similar, more affordable product called the Wallflower Living Frame, developed in the south of France.
The Wallflower’s revolutionary living ecosystem concept consists of a pouch with moisture-retentive soil, a small but artistic selection of plants, and a wicking system and water reservoir in a wooden frame made from recyclable materials. The wicking system guarantees an even watering system with no risk of overwatering. Not a green thumb? No worries. You only need to add water two or three times a month.
Unique natural vignettes are customizable, suitable for both residential and commercial spaces, and can even be holiday-themed. Design accents include dried mushrooms, reindeer moss and pine cones for a woodsy feel.
Tatiana Penner, florist and owner of Oak & Lily, 1724 Corydon Ave., is one of the 180 Canadian retailers who distributes By Nature Design’s products. “A lot of people come into the store and recognize the uniqueness of the products,” said Penner. “There is a water reservoir at the top of the picture frame,” said Penner, “which can be accessed directly without taking it off the wall.”
Penner’s store also carries the Boskke Sky Planter, a whimsical upsidedown planter that can be suspended from the ceiling.
Penner likes that By Nature Design is a Canadian company. “I also like the materials used in the products,” said Penner. “The sky planters are made of recycled plastic and the frame of the Wallflower Living Frame is made of reclaimed wood. They are customizable and you can get ones that are available to self-plant but By Nature Design does such a good job with the pre-planting. The frames come with all of the hardware for hanging on the wall or place them on a shelf or desk or other stationary object.”
Plant selection consists of foliage plants such as Arrowhead fern, ivy, pothos vine, etc., that will do well in bright light or lower light environments. Overall dimensions of the living frame range from 12 by 12 inches to 23 by 14.5 inches and prices start at $75. The sky planter starts at $25. Designed to flourish with low maintenance, both of these naturescape systems will add a sculptural element to any decor. Just trim the plants as they grow.
Laptop gardeners may snatch a few moments of images of green inspiration during their workday by browsing websites such as Pinterest and Houzz but Rousseau and Collay hope to introduce a living botanical microcosm to the daily lives of even the busiest of people, connecting them to the natural world.
ModuloGreen Living Walls have been designed to easily integrate into the interior design so the plants are part of the atmosphere.
“The big difference,” said Rousseau, “is that we are trying to democratize the living wall technology and make it accessible. Some people are intimidated by green walls because they may be too expensive or difficult to install.” The ModuloGreen system, advertised as the most cost-effective green wall system available, can be installed and planted without having to hire a professional.
THE ModuloGreen living wall brings a room to life without appearing as a separate bookcasetype of structure resting against a wall. “Some of the earlier models of living walls looked clumsy,” said Rousseau who was part of the team that designed and tested the ModuloGreen System in France six years ago.
“Many people want to design living walls because there is a demand for them,” said Rousseau, “but they are not horticulturalists and that is bad for the industry. Not all systems are good. You have to bring water to the plants and make sure it is well-distributed. Do your homework and make sure you know what you are buying.”
Fastened to the wall with brackets, the lightweight waterproof ModuloGreen system uses a low-water consumption drip-irrigation system and a specially engineered moistureretentive soil medium. Over the space of a few months, healthy, lush foliage grows to completely conceal the individual modules. The effect is dramatic. Incorporating greenery in our living and working spaces has proven health benefits which are well documented. Those benefits are multiplied exponentially with a living wall.
While living walls and living picture frames will continue to gain ground, there is another green innovation that invites the indoor dweller to take a few moments to pause and relax amid all the chaos of our daily lives. Mossart Still Nature Design Creations, designed at By Nature Design and manufactured in Quebec, use natural reindeer moss that is integrated into frames and even furniture such as tables and chairs.
“Reindeer moss is a very unique moss,” said Rousseau, “and we use it in many different applications to illustrate how moss can bring nature indoors in many different ways.” An alternative to living walls, the preserved moss is very soft and does not need any water, trimming or light. Ever.
“We replace the water in the moss with glycerine,” said Rousseau. “It is still green which has a huge impact on our wellness.”
Collay describes Mossart as a 3-D vision of nature. “Picture a green patch similar to the Amazonian rainforest from an airplane perspective. It’s ideal for anyone who wants greenery but nothing to do with maintenance.
”The paradox is that Canada is a big vast area with natural resources, but Canadians spend a great deal of time indoors. We would love to spend more time outdoors, but we don’t want to freeze to death.”
Enlivening our homes and offices with a touch of nature helps to make the long winter months more bearable. We can anticipate more new concepts from By Nature Design.
“We are looking for interior designers to work on different projects,” said Rousseau, who also works closely with local artists and designers on not for profit initiatives in his community. Collard adds they are also keenly interested in talking directly to consumers to learn more about their ideas and expectations.
For more information on where to find any of these products at local retail outlets, email Manitoba@bynaturedesign.ca.
Nicolas Rousseau, co-owner of By Nature Design, is a horticultural engineer who is redefining indoor gardening with stylish products designed to reshape our home and work environments. At left, take a few moments from your busy schedule to relax in a setting that incorporates greenery. Proven benefits include lower blood pressure and a greater sense of wellbeing. At top, Reindeer moss, preserved with glycerine, is used in many different applications to bring a touch of nature to your home without any maintenance. This three-dimensional example of Mossart Still Nature Design Creations makes a unique statement that is soft to the touch and stays green.
Plants in every room? Why not? The Wallflower Living Frame, made from reclaimed wood and planted with low-maintenance plants is suitable for almost any room in your