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New nature-based design exhibition explores regenerative, resilient futures
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Grown furniture by Full Grown

Main image: grown furniture by Full Grown

An experiential, multi-sensory exhibition, aimed at encouraging a more nature-based approach to design, opens at Roca London Gallery on 19 April and will run until 30 September.

Curated by Planted in collaboration with Oliver Heath Design studio, Bio-Spaces will plunge visitors into the world of biophilic design, exploring biodiversity and biomimicry as well as biomorphic design, bio-based materials and bio-regenerative design.

‘As a species we are waking up to the simple fact that we are part of nature.

‘Human beings thrive in spaces that are in harmony with the natural elements and systems of our planet. As a result, we are starting to reimagine how our spaces can be designed with nature in mind, working with rather than against it, to create healthier more equitable environments to live in, now and into the future.’

Planted’s biophilic design ambassadors and world-renowned experts on nature-based design

Journey through islands

Visitors will journey through a series of modular GRID ‘islands’, each exploring a theme pertinent to the concept of nature-based design and populated with architectural case studies and innovative products that derive inspiration and materials from the natural world.

A multi-sensory approach, alongside touches of greenery, will enhance the experience, bringing the water-inspired spaces of the Zaha Hadid Architects-designed Roca London Gallery into direct dialogue with likeminded projects and products that aim to reconnect people and spaces with nature.

Temples and retail space

The first ‘island’ highlights built environments informed and inspired by nature, such as Henning Larsen’s Biotope, home to the Métropole Européenne de Lille.

Derived from the Greek expression for ‘Place of Life’, the Biotope’s expansive network of terraced gardens, balconies and bridges are a habitat for over 65 species of plants, making a significant contribution to C02 reduction and local biodiversity.

Mamou-Mani’s digitally designed and fabricated architecture takes direct inspiration from botanical genetic coding to create awe-inspiring parametric forms, such as the 2018 Temple Galaxia, designed to be consumed by fire at the 2018 Burning Man Festival.

For a long-term project, progressive fashion brand LESTRANGE commissioned Oliver Heath Design Studio to create biophilic guidelines to bring a more nature-based, regenerative approach to their retail space, to ‘bring consumption back in line with the planet.’

Fred Rigby Studio went on to translate these guidelines, designing LESTRANGE’s stunning Coal Drops Yard store using non-toxic materials such as Claywork’s render and mycelium bowls, alongside preserved planting and modular, upgradeable and repairable speakers that play natural soundscapes.

Nature-inspired home products

Occupying a separate exhibition ‘island’ are standout products from designers such as Benchmark, whose AYA stool, created in collaboration with Foster & Partners, is made from solid FSC British grown ash and finished with low-VOC oils for healthy indoor air quality.

Blast Studio will be displaying its Inflated table, blue tree and coral lampshade – all 3D printed using discarded coffee cups collected in London.

The design behind the inflated table was to juxtapose the organic, almost inflated appearance of its form with the tough, stone-like texture of the biomaterial used.

‘We want visitors to come away from the exhibition with an understanding of how to apply a more nature-based approach to design.

‘Our intention is to raise awareness of and educate people about the innovative solutions out there, to create a more regenerative-positive outlook. There has never been a more exciting time to align with nature.’

Planted, founder of 2011’s ground-breaking designjunction show

Showcasing bio-based materials

Another ‘island’ will display bio-based materials including the robust, fast-growing crop hemp, which sequesters carbon at an extraordinary rate (15 tons C02 per hectare) and whose long plant roots help nourish our top soil. Hemp is turned into a range of corrugated panels by Erthly.

High-quality wool composite from Solidwool will also be shown; it acts as a sustainable alternative to today’s petrochemical-based structural reinforced plastics and composites.

TySyml, who focus on the use of seaweed and mycelium (mushroom) composites to create products, will show its ALGAU lampshade. The design is a blend of seaweed combined with waste paper yields to create a robust texture akin to cork, with tactile warmth and subtle hints of the sea within.

Innovative pieces such as the Reef Rocket by Mary Lempres will demonstrate a more regenerative approach to design.

Composed of plant-derived bio-concrete reef blocks the product addresses the challenges of coastal flooding and industrial cement production, seeking decarbonisation by employing nature into the manufacturing process.

Finally, video content from from Grown Furniture (main image) will support the exhibition. Grown Furniture shapes and grafts living trees and its pieces also provide wildlife habitat; the Chair Orchard is a project that has been physically growing since 2006.

The Planted exhibition will run from 19 April-30 September 2024 and is free to attend. Visit Roca London Gallery, Station Court, Townmead Road, Fulham, London SW6 2PY.

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