green thumb modernism
Blame it on the first day of spring, but I’m at maximum plant obsession right now.
And I'm pretty sure it's my dad's fault. Growing up surrounded by spindly green plants of all shapes and sizes, I never thought twice about sharing my living space with cacti, ferns, and succulents. Year after year, I "listened" to my dad recount the names of his plants as he meticulously pruned and lovingly watered each one. As a kid none of this mattered much, but as I've grown older, I've come to fully appreciate my dad's love of all things green. So now it will make perfect sense when I tell you (again) that I really love plants (it's called indoctrination).
But clearly, I’m not the only one who has an infatuation with greenery. Plant-filled interiors are EVERYWHERE. Just look at the pages of AD, Dwell, or Domino. The fascination with botanicals has clearly influenced current design trends (this makes my dad laugh for obvious reasons) and interest doesn't seem to be slowing down. Like I've mentioned before, the Pantone color of 2017 was "GREENERY." So yeah, we get it.
And then there's the obvious connection between the popularity of houseplants and the resurgence of midcentury modern décor. The relationship between American modernism and nature is rooted in the earliest incarnations of the style (remember Frank Lloyd Wright), so it’s no coincidence that today, as prices of original masterpieces by Eames or Noguchi have increased dramatically, houseplants like the fiddle leaf fig have been flying off the shelves.
Take the iconic Eames House, Case Study #8 in the Pacific Palisades. The living room has become the subject of much Pinterest activity over the last few years, shaping many a millennial living space. Many aspire to the room's well-curated (and evolving) collection of natural and handmade objects- driftwood, shells, flower arrangements, books, art, and most importantly, plants. Just check popular instagram accounts like @thejungalow or @thesill. The Eames lineage couldn't be more obvious. As long as modernism reigns, plants will too.
So you can buy all of the modern furniture and shaggy rugs you desire, but what your house really needs is a plant. And don't waste your money on those overly styled succulent terrariums- buy one of the plants below, keep it alive, and I promise your house will thank you for it.
5 Houseplants Modern Architects Loved (and are mostly hard to kill)
The Snake Plant (Sansevieria)
Lots of varieties and sizes (these are pretty small) and almost impossible to kill. The snake plant looks architectural, can survive low light, and purifies the air. Basically the perfect houseplant.
The Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Easy to grow and adaptable, the variegated varieties (above) are my favorite. You do need to remember to water these though.
The Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)
For me, the real queen of houseplants. Lush green leaves, low maintenance, but so popular it can be kind of difficult to find. Look anyway.
The Rubber Tree (Ficus elastic)
After you've mastered the beginner-level plants (above), you will have no trouble managing the rubber tree. A modern decor classic, the rubber tree needs a little TLC, but those big waxy leaves are worth it.
The Staghorn Fern (Platycerium spp.)
The dinosaur of houseplants, the staghorn fern used to be pretty rare, but thanks to an easier to grow species from Australia, you see them everywhere. They take a little background research (studying), but again, these beauties are well worth your time and energy.
Good Luck and Happy Spring!
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This architectural historian cannot stop thinking about buildings, food, and that vintage rug she found online.