As wellness, self-care and mindfulness gain mainstream acceptance, we are tracking the ways in which those conversations are articulated and how people are changing their behaviors because of them. We recently wrote about nature as a trend coming out of this macro wellness trend, focusing on the ways it influences Millennial parents’ decisions and how brands are responding. Today, we want to talk about houseplants and how bringing nature indoors can activate health and well-being.
Rise of the Plant Parent
Houseplants started to gain mass appeal in 2016 and established some of the earliest “plantfluencers” that now have huge followings on Instagram and book deals. Over the last 2+ years, much of the attention has been surface level, focusing on the “it” plant of the year (fiddle leaf to monstera and now, the pilea), styling it for Instagram and generally help to sell stuff in catalogues.
However, as living things that need care, those little houseplants seem to have taken on a world of influence upon their owners and a new fetish of 2019 has emerged: plant parenting. If the publishing world is one indicator, a sampling of new titles this year confirms it. How To Houseplant targets newbies to “making and keeping plant friends.’ The New Plant Parent shows you how to care for your house-plant family. How To Raise a Plant and Make It Like You Back acknowledges the common concerns of parenthood – healthy growth and cohabitation. On the Sill, a boutique that offers a monthly plant subscription, you can join their Plant Parent Club.
Much of this echoes horticultural therapy. Similar to caring for pets, plants keep our bodies and minds active. They are therapeutic and reduce stress; they develop nurturing skills and boost mindfulness. These kinds of qualities are what set off a billion dollar pet care market…could plant parenthood mimic that, even on a small scale?
Biophilic design covers entirely new ground with the houseplant trend, shifting the conversation from individualized indoor gardening to providing wellness sanctuaries on a grander scale.
The idea behind biophilic design is to incorporate elements of nature into our environments and architecture to facilitate wellness. In work environments, studies show that plants reduce sick days and absentee rates, and boost productivity. Look no further than the small scale of our Ultra offices to find plants dangling between office walls to the wonder of Amazon Spheres to see this trend in action.
But it’s not just home and work: Gym environments too are getting a second look – Biofit is the world’s first biophilic gym and promotes a healthier workout in a natural setting. The Liuzhou Forest City is set to open in 2020 and provide a sustainable, nature-forward urban city. And hospitals are moving into this space as well, bringing in plants as a way of therapy to aid faster recoveries.
But if you can’t live in nature, digital nature is offering solutions by way of virtual reality. It’s a new landscape with limited research but is exploring how technological interface representing natural spaces can have positive effects. If digital nature and design sensory can promote wellness, there is an opportunity to think about the role of design in a much more holistic way. This might be a reach but take Band-Aid: it is well-known among parents for offering a wide variety of kid character-themed band aids. Recently, the brand has released design-forward and on-trend designs. Some are through partnerships with designer entrepreneurs like Oh Joy but more recently, a SKU with designs of those well-known tropical plants well known in the Instagram houseplant world. These designs are born out of a strong visual trend but in thinking about biophilic design’s ability to promote wellness, could this SKU be doing that way of illustration and representation?
It is easy to dismiss the new houseplant trend as just a craze or a fad - or a stylized look just for plantfluencers and their fans on Instagram - but some of these quirky trends blossom into bigger opportunities, especially in the health and wellness era.