Office Plants: It’s a Jungle Out There
The work-home boundaries are blurring, which is sowing the seeds for a more domestic style of interior greenery at work.
It’s quite normal to walk into an office and be greeted by foliage. For decades, office properties have been home to potted plants of virtually every size, shape and species imaginable, from spiky cacti and sprawling ivy to trimmed topiary.
Office plants are attractive. They create natural barriers, act as a shield to hide unsightly features, and brighten up dull office corners. They offer many other benefits too. Plants, especially species such as peace lilies, ‘clean’ the air by removing toxins which helps to create a more pleasant and healthy environment for office workers. Some plants such as aloe vera have medicinal benefits. So next time you get a paper cut (or get spiked by that annoying cactus) just snip off the tip of an aloe vera strand and rub the gooey liquid into the cut.
But walk into some of the most modern and innovative office spaces and you might notice something a little different. Plants aren’t just dotted around anymore – instead, they’re becoming an integral and central part of the office space design.
Kate Mason, associate at architect firm Scott Brownrigg, says that planting is becoming part of the design rather than an afterthought. “We’re seeing a lot of indoor gardens,” she said, according to The Guardian. “They have created these in the offices in the Shard, for example. We’re also working for a couple of large clients where we’re putting in living walls.”
We’ve long known about the environmental benefits of ‘green’ or ‘living’ roofs, and how they can help to conserve heat and provide natural areas for local wildlife. Recently, we reported on the new trend of living walls and how you could use them to grow your lunch. The concept of indoor gardens is another planting trend that’s experiencing explosive growth. With anything from minimal pot arrangements and water features to full-blown garden designs that wouldn’t look amiss at Chelsea Flower Show, architects seem to be going potty over interior greenery.
Interior planting might look pretty. But isn’t the idea getting a little… overgrown?
According to Mason, whose firm has created offices for giants such as Google, this enthusiasm for greenery is part of a wider trend of workspace design that’s reflecting a more domestic style. The boundaries between home and work are blurring, and with it, the office is starting to look more like home.
However, before you start pulling up the carpets to make way for raised beds and borders, remember that plants like to grow, and indoor gardens are a long-term investment. According to Mason, it’s not just about “putting the plants in”. Companies must set aside a budget to ensure the features are regularly tended to keep them neat, tidy and in full health. Otherwise you could end up with less of an architectural statement and more of an overgrown allotment.
Do you have plants in the office? What lengths does your company go to make an architectural impact with plants?