How to grow herbs in limited urban environments.
We recently built a glass herb wall installation in our Helsinki showroom, in an effort to show off the diverse plant materials that go into our natural cosmetic products, both what can be seen above ground and what is hidden below ground. While the installation came together nicely for this limited purpose, the herbs themselves did not last beyond a few days. Given the less than sustainable result of this first effort, we have been thinking about how to re-create a modified version of our herb wall, only this time in a more sustainable and permanent form.
In researching the various problems and possibilities involved, we came across a series of planting solutions, which attempt to solve three critical problems associated with indoor, urban horticulture: limited space, limited light, and a limited time for maintenance. The light problem is especially acute here in Finland, where much of the year is spent in the relative darkness of winter, with southern Finland receiving about six hours of hazy light per day, while the northern regions remain in permanent darkness.
The following planter designs get around these problems by placing the plant directly inside a light source. For example, according to Nui Studio, the designers of the Lamp Mygdal, their plant light creates a “completely autonomous ecosystem,” which needs neither natural light nor watering, where the installed LED lights allow most plants “to photosynthesize in the most unlikely environments.”
This idea is taken a step further by The Glasshouse, created by designer Kristýna Pojerová, which includes a cylindrical opening and an inner gutter that allow for quick access to your very own well-ventilated herb garden in the round. As Pojerová states, “all this is basically about making use of the otherwise useless waste heat of the [light] bulb.” Finally, artist Miriam Aust’s Vase & Leuchte allows for a full on system of hydroponics, which also creates a beautiful refraction of light through the floating root structures.
These innovative designs provide the possibility for green spaces in even the most dreary urban environments, and give us some interesting new ideas, which may well find their way into our next herb wall installation.