Connecting with nature is essential to our well-being, yet the majority of people spend most of their time indoors. One way to remedy our modern disconnect is to bring the outdoors in. In fact, biophilic design – the practice of creating indoor environments that incorporate elements of nature (including sunlight, plants, natural materials and colors) as a means of improving physical and mental well-being, has gained widespread attention.
Bringing the outdoors in through use of plants extends far beyond the stereotypical office philodendron. Laura Stirling Joffrion, who founded the mobile greenhouse and plant design studio FAIT (faitnola.com) with her mother Kathleen Robinson and sister Emily Fields Joffrion, says FAIT specializes in biophilic design and that 95 percent of their business is devoted to indoor installations.
“It’s vital to have plants around your home,” Joffrion said. “Science has shown they increase the amount of oxygen, lower heart rate and help with stress. It’s not just about air purification. It’s a symbiotic relationship with our environment.”
Joffrion and Robinson, who believe “everyone has a green thumb” with the proper training, offer both online consults via Zoom and in-person walk-throughs designed to determine a client’s design aesthetic and lifestyle, and then choose plants accordingly. A client who travels regularly, for example, may do best with plants that don’t require much water like succulents or with self-watering planters. Post installation, they provide customized plant guides with detailed information about watering, pruning and more, as well as recommendations on bringing interior plants outside during the warm months.
“We’re setting clients up for success from the beginning,” she said.
Joffrion recommends following Instagram and design sites for inspiration. Two of her favorites: @lily_kwong and @plantthefuture. She also keeps FAIT’s Instagram profile stocked with beautiful photos. Currently, she says the use of luscious greenery — trees such as olive, ficus and bird of paradise, trailing plants that can be cut for decorative purposes and propagation, and potted succulent gardens with rare varieties are trending.
“It’s not just small plants, it’s more of a jungle feel,” she said.
For those who wish to do their own installation work, FAIT can provide a tailor-made roadmap for how to source the goods and install them.
“We’re moving toward a more seamless design component where we’re selling the ideas for the setup and letting people do it themselves,” said Joffrion, who often sends clients to three favorite local sources: Harold’s, Urban Roots and We Bite Nola for plants.
- Water less, mist more. Joffrion advises watering only every five to seven days.
- To propagate trailing plants, cut them diagonally above the aerial root or node.
- Wait until dying leaves are brown before pruning. If you prune too early, the plant has to work harder to push out new growth.
ABOUT THE DESIGNERS
Since 2018, mother/daughter team Kathleen Robinson and Laura Sterling Joffrion have been bringing their shared passion for the garden to both residential and commercial clients, through retail sales, workshops, design services and more. Their mobile nursery, Axil Rose, pops up at local businesses, festivals and other events around town.