How to Promote Indoor Plants in Architectural Planning

Let’s get this straight. A Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ in a black gloss Gainey cylinder is not what the plantscaping industry is all about.

But that is the feedback I receive from the local architectural community about interior plants. I hear, “We are designing for contemporary interiors and don’t want plants to clutter our clean lines.”

The fact people still have that perception about indoor plants amazes me. Plants are not a hindrance but a benefit to any interior or architectural design. I understand the art and structure architects place in their work, with lines and shapes an integral part of their design.

What if we took it a step further and started thinking not just of the aesthetics, but the whole interaction between environment and people? Many noted architects are riding this new wave of biophilia, the need for humans to coalesce with nature, weaving natural elements into their structures. Using windows and skylights to filter in lots of natural light; as well as presenting more views of the outside world are some of the ways architects are bringing nature to us. Why not use plants? Why not reach for the stars and bring the modern age to our service?

We all want to be respected by the architectural community as well as directly specified in their designs. Envision placing plants in all interior design plans just like carpet, furniture and workstations. I do, every day and am striving hard to make it happen.

Plants are a necessary part of indoor living and it is something our industry must strive to promote because it is the future. It should be every office building has interior plants where our industry’s service integrates into the whole architectural concept. Plants are key elements to awaken space and are essential to buildings. We must focus on the design world and shift perceptions with facts to enlighten them about the true nature of what we do.

Though aesthetically pleasing, plants are not just for looks. As our industry well knows, they also provide health benefits. Plants balance the air quality by reducing carbon dioxide, infusing more oxygen into the area and stabilizing humidity so re-circulated air doesn’t become too dry. Stress is reduced when greenery surrounds an environment. It’s so simple yet such a powerful way to promote our business. Plants create a healthier and more productive atmosphere for all, especially the corporate workplace.

Convincing an architect or client who has a specific design and budget in mind can be a challenge. One way is to actually show the space with plants to visually prove what we do truly has value. Pictures are worth a thousand words and in this case, it is no different.

  • Take photographs of the space.
  • Measure the space appropriately for scale.
  • Choose decorative containers that match the accents or floor.
  • Choose decorative containers that follow the overall design.
  • Be sure to use less is more approach with plant selection.
  • Specify unusual and specimen plants that complement the design.
  • Use computer imagery to show the client your vision. Check out Tropical Computers Inc.’s website that can help you show visual presentations.
  • Be sure and do the visuals to scale utilizing measurements taken when at your appointment.

Bamboo LobbyListen with an open mind to what the architect is seeking. There are so many ways to complement their concept. Here’s a great example from a recent installation. A company just finished a contemporary lobby with stainless steel trim and very clean lines. To stay within the design, we used Dracaena marginatas in oversized, tall European squares in burnished silver with black poly pebbles at the base.

On each of the sides flanking the entrances we placed large 4’ black coral Sanseverias in the same square containers with black poly pebbles as the Dracaena. To contrast the black, we set a low square with a simple white Phalaenopsis orchid nestled in polished rock to sit on the reception counter.

The clean lines of the building were followed with the sharp leaves of the Dracaena and Sanseverias. The pot’s square geometry fit perfectly with the contemporary design and the black pebbles gave it a chic look.

Simple and clean line containers speak volumes. And the plants make the lobby friendly and inviting in contrast to the modern starkness popular in today’s designs. Approaching the architectural community in positive ways to complement their work earns respect with professionalism and the innovative ways our industry can enhance their design.

Be creative. Search out one of kind decorative containers in your specific area to keep your designs unique. Use one or two in key places to make a statement and positively impact the look competitors can’t copy. This sets you apart from competition, and trust me your clients will love it.

Of course, we must not forget it is business, so be competitive in pricing but allow room for a decent profit that includes excellent, guaranteed service. Proving our industry is respectable and reliable with new and exciting ways to elicit great designs is not rocket science. It’s quite simple, “Say what you do, and do what you say.”

Let’s raise the bar in our designs and shoot for the stars. It’s up to us an industry to ride gracefully and profitably into the future promoting plants in new and better ways.

Julie Davis Farrow is the CEO and founder of Plantscapers, Inc, an award winning interior plantscaper company located in Southern California. She is an active member of numerous trade associations, including Green Plants for Green Buildings and is also a registered speaker trained by GPGB to present “Authentically Green Interiors: Optimizing Nature’s Design.” To learn more about Julie and Plantscapers, Inc. visit www.plantscapers.com.

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  • the Ficus Wrangler

    Great points, Julie. I would sure like to see the people in our industry taking a more active role in reaching out to the architects and interior designers in each city where we are located, to help them get over this absurd notion that plants are “dated” or “clutter up” their interiors.

  • Great idea- listing as part of the sales process. Lets take a lead from this noted interiorscape designer Julie Davis Farrow and provide cutting edge Interiorscape services.

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