Woolly Around the World: Canada

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

photos by Tim Suddaby

This week’s Woolly Around the World post comes from Canada and the design team of Vertical Oxygen. Vertical Oxygen specializes in implementing edible, decorative and air filtering plants into living wall systems. They utilized our wally threes for a temporary living wall they built for a local institute of technology for an awards night (top photo) and the wally one for a 75 foot living wall in the oil camp (bottom photo).

Woolly Around the World: England

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

photos by Oliver Heath

This week’s Woolly Around the World post comes from England and our friends at Heath Design. Here is our Q & A with the owner of Heath Design, Oliver Heath.


1. What is the driving hypothesis behind biophilic design?

That humans have an innate attraction to nature and natural processes, as a residual genetic heritage from the hundreds of thousand of years spent as agrarian dwellers. It means that we react positively  to many of the elements that were once essential to help us survive and thrive in nature, such as natural light, views onto abundant natural elements (such as plants and trees) natural materials and save recuperative spaces.

2. What biophilic design guidelines can be applied to both interior and exterior environments?
There are four key principles which although simplified can be incorporated into many of the spaces that we live and work in. Maximizing our exposure to natural light is essential for regulating our body’s circadian rhythms – keeping our mental, physical and behavioural behaviour in regular working order. Views onto nature – ideally from an elevated position, incorporating views onto trees, grass, plants, bodies of gentle water improves cognitive functioning and the mental restoration. But this could also include the use of natural plants in interior spaces or patios and balconies. The use of natural materials or those that mimic them. Materials such as stone, timber, leather, sheepskins, and even digital images of non threatening forms of nature. Safe restorative spaces- we all need spaces to recover our mental and physical energy after an intense period of concentration, this could be during the day or at night once we get home. This sets us up to get back to carrying out complex and challenging tasks with a greater level of focus and engagement.

3. Can you share 1-2 examples of spaces you have designed that incorporate these strategies?
Much of my work is in the domestic sector and I have carried out projects where there have been deeply impactful medical conditions that have affected family life. Biophilic design elements have connected the inhabitants back to nature and in doing so have improved personal health and wellbeing plus the family social conditions. I am also working on implementing these ideas within office spaces where research has demonstrated improvements to productivity of 8% and reported well being of 13%. There is a great body of research just carried out called the Biophillic design in the workplace report which you can download from the www.humanspaces.com website.

4. When did you first become interested in applying biophilic design principles into your work – what was your first a-ha moment?

I have always felt that we need to incorporate natural materials and elements into the spaces we live and work in, and wrote about extensively this in my last book Urban Eco Chic.
My deeper involvement with Biophilic design has come about through my work with Interface the sustainable flooring company who are passionate about Human Centred design and the impact that natural analogues of nature such as their Human Nature and Urban retreat ranges can have on the improvement of the spaces that we work in. The new website Human Spaces which is a compendium of Biophillic design ideas plus health and well being in the built environment.

5. How do you use plants as a design element – do you create vertical walls, place plants on tabletops, create interior garden/community spaces?
Plants are an essential element of my design projects, adding not only an additional level of aesthetics to spaces but also improving the air quality whilst improving the psychological quality of the space. I like to use plants at a variety of vertical levels so that they can be appreciated when sitting or standing or even lying down!

6. We love to inspire first time gardeners to have fun with plants. Any simple suggestions on how to begin finding our inner biophilia?
Just get out there and experiment, you’ll reap the rewards. What I’m finding is that there is decades of research backing up the ideas, we now need to put them into practice with completed projects, the benefits are clear to the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Also take a look at the www.humanspaces.com website – there are some amazing people blogging about completed projects and cutting edge research on the subject of Biophilic design.


Plants and People February 2015

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Our #PlantsandPeople featured photographers continue to deliver beautiful and inspiring images. Photos by @aridechaine, @honeylakestudio, @barefootitaly, @ladycascades, @oaun_pongthorn, @victoriavolcik, @swedishgarden, @brinkleycapriola, @concretegeometric, @jlcurtin, @amy_merrick, @iampatrickchin, @toogoodjohns, @saraheliholland, @stevenperilloux_, @turnone, @thisfruitsnaps, @idwr, @mhd_hajj, @plantthefuture , @aloedesigns, @tinelykkea, @csufgreenhouse, @ry_dwy, @cody.hanson, @ohracheljane, @fnymango

Scientists Solve Mystery of World-Traveling Plant

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


By land or by sea? That’s the question scientists have been pondering for decades when it comes to the bottle gourd, a plant with a hard-skinned fruit that’s used by cultures all over the world to make lightweight containers and other tools. Archaeologists know that people were using domesticated bottle gourds in the Americas as early as 10,000 years ago. But how did the plant make the jump from its original home in Africa to the New World with an ocean in the way? A new study overturns previous evidence pointing to a human-assisted land migration and concludes that the bottle gourd floated across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas on its own.

Humans rarely eat the bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria), but rather dry out its fruit and fashion it into containers, tools like fishing floats or pipes, or even musical instruments. The plant comes in two subspecies linked to their geography: one from Africa, where the plant first evolved, and one from Asia. Researchers have long wondered whether the New World bottle gourds are more closely related to the African or Asian subspecies. If they could build a bottle gourd family tree, they thought, they might be able to figure out how the plant reached the Americas in the first place. Did it float over on ocean currents from Africa, the prevailing assumption until about 10 years ago, or did humans carry the plant with them when they walked across the Bering land bridge from Asia?

“It was a real puzzle,” says Bruce Smith, an archaeologist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Then, in 2005, a study was published that seemed to solve the mystery once and for all. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers analyzed the genetics of bottle gourds for the first time and found that pre-Columbian bottle gourds in the Americas appeared to be more closely related to the Asian subspecies than the African one. They concluded that the ancestors of New World bottle gourds must have been carried by people as they made their way across Asia, over the Bering land bridge, and down into the Americas.

But many scientists—including several of the study’s authors—had “lingering questions” about that hypothesis, says Andrew Clarke, a plant biologist at the University of Warwick in Coventry, U.K. and an author of the 2005 study. Most glaringly, how could the bottle gourd, a tropical plant, make it through years of traveling across the Arctic? And if humans carried it with them across the Bering land bridge, why is there no archaeological evidence of bottle gourds in Siberia, Alaska, or the Pacific Northwest?

Read Full Article Here

Plants and People January 2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Excited to share the breathtaking work of our #PlantsandPeople photographers from January. Photos by @barefootitaly, @turnone , @jenguntexan, @contessatessa, @vildans, @cheynacarr, @wirisamarah, @kennethjmitchell, @nature_photograghy312, @laurenlemon, @joshuascarlson, @jmtrovato, @desertbotanical, @justinablakeney, @swedishgarden, @mikekus, @calebthefox, @stefkaipper, @helensteel, @pauloctavious, @jayarcherblooms, @cocoxochitl, @dominomag, @yokoogibraan, @fairchildgarden, @hennablossom, @gingerandpittie, @renecharlesritchie, @hollyspringsgardenclub, @iampatrickchin, @greenerynyc, @beamayo, @metalyosi, @pleasebabygiveittomelouder, @novitakw22, @whostrevor, @daringwanderer, @megaguire, @bethnaymollenkof, @growing_nicely, @afancyorafeeling, @queensfarm, @chriscodyyy

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