When I was in college many, many years ago, I worked for a plant design, installation and maintenance company mainly to pay for my parking tickets at the University of Maryland but also too for books and spending money. I didn’t know much about the industry of interior plantscaping as I was studying criminal law. Interior Plantscaping was a thriving industry with plants and decorative containers being designed into hotels to create a sense of arrival; in shopping malls to create a shopping experience and in office buildings to not only clean our air but to make our work place more attractive.
In the early 2000’s, designing with plants went away. Architects wanted to design with a modern look creating clean lines and simplicity. Profits took precedent and corporations starting squeezing people into small spaces eliminating the space for plants.
In the 2010’s, plants started to make a comeback largely in part to the millennials. Businesses started to realize that there is more to a well designed space than just furniture, bright colors and game rooms. The installation of one plant can not only clean the air, make us feel less stressed, takes up that awkward corner but bring the outdoor feel indoors.
In their mid 20’s, instead of buying a house and starting a family, millennials have dogs and an array of plants. In 2016, according to the National Gardening Report, 37% of millennials are growing plants or herbs indoors compared to 28% of baby boomers. People are also becoming more in tune with their health and what is healthier than a plant giving off oxygen while at the same time removing unhealthy toxins from the air.
Indoor air pollutants have been ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health. Given that people spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, air quality matters. Furnishings, upholstery, synthetic building materials, and cleaning products in homes and offices can emit a variety of toxins. A solution, according to NASA, is “nature’s life support system”, PLANTS. Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air, which is then processed into oxygen through photosynthesis. But that’s not all—microorganisms associated with the plants are present in the potting soil, and these microbes also help.
Some of the best plant choices to clean the air are the following plants: Spider plants, Boston ferns, English Ivy, Golden Pothos, Aloe Vera, Sanseveria (snake plants), Chrysanthemums and Spathiphyllum (Peace lilies). It is recommended to have one potted plant per 100 square feet.
What did this mean for our workplace? Large Corporations like Amazon and Apple are creating office spaces with plants. The Seattle Campus for Amazon has over 40,000 plants. The new Apple headquarters, named Apple Park, is a single ring, about a mile in circumference that is covered in plants and trees. Designing with plants is now a must! Plants are not only aesthetically pleasing but offer health benefits to attract ALL employees including millennials which are becoming the largest segment of the work force.