Succulents are sprouting from the nooks and crannies! At first glance these wall hangings appear as if they are made from crumpled paper, with plants pushing through and reclaiming their space. But look closely and you’ll find otherwise. I got in touch with artist and designer Taeg Nishimoto to find out more about his SEED planters.
SEED is a collection of planters made using fast drying cast concrete and a material called Tyvek. Synthetic in nature, Tyvek is often used in place of paper because it is quite strong, but waterproof. To bring about these fantastical plant pot hangers is not just a one step process. Designer Taeg Nishimoto crumples Tyvek to create the crease mark profile, pours concrete into the mold and once it has set he has a concrete tile.
Once you stare at the result of the solid surface in this manner, you can’t help making a visual association with the aerial photographs of certain landscapes, the hills, mountains, valleys…
How did you get into using Tyvek as a mold material?
I worked on lighting fixture projects that explored the behavior of fabric in lighting, letting gravity determine the creases and folds. It was about how the fabric finds its own way to find the most suitable crease or fold in their final form when they are applied with certain force such as gravity.
As an extension of that idea, I was interested in the effect of paper crumple. Crumple is infinitely a result of simply crumpling the paper and it is always a very precise record of what happened to that paper when you crumpled it. I had Tyvek as a part of the collection of different paper in my studio. Casting the concrete using Tyvek as a mold was one of the ways to see how that crumpled condition can be captured permanently. But once you stare at the result of the solid surface in this manner, you can’t help making a visual association with the aerial photographs of certain landscapes, the hills, mountains, valleys, etc. and that’s when the whole thing started.
What inspired the SEED project?
So in the process of doing different things to this Tyvek casting, one of the things we did was to lift a part of Tyvek in order to leave a hole in the cast surface that emphasizes how crumpled condition can be seen in depth. These holes added to the image of a landscape as if they are lakes in mountains or something like that. I also wanted to use this as a vertical surface on the wall.
One day, just for fun I put a small flower in this hole and it looked mysteriously interesting, and that’s when the idea of applying this to make a wall planter came together. To give forms to the planters, I looked at how certain elements of nature formed themselves, such as how cells multiply or how river rocks end up having particular shapes for each one, and these images look awfully similar. So for the forms, we photographed river rocks and drew the profiles from them. The idea and execution of wall planter really emerged as a result of this process.
The soil for the plants is in a container at the back, which pushes the tiles 2 to 4 centimeters away from the wall. That extra space gives the tiles the appearance that they’re floating.
What are your favorite plants to use in the piece?
Well, the ones we photographed are all succulents of different kinds. I like the variety of shapes and the colors of them. They also don’t need lots of care and they do grow well in this vertical situation.
How do the SEED planters hold up in the long term?
I have the original prototypes hanging on the covered terrace wall in my house. They are holding up quite well. Some plants became quite large against the background and now they are sending new shoots from the stems. It’s nice to see how the plants are adjusting to the situation and finding their course of growth in the small environment they are placed in.
Each piece of the SEED planters is a different shape, and putting the array of shapes and sizes together creates an interesting display.
If people are interested in having these SEED planters at home, how can they get their hands on one?
My website is not very extensive, but there is my contact info. Some people do contact me with inquiries, and the planters are made to order. I send them a catalog that shows different types and the price, and you can order which kinds and how many. People purchase them this way.
We are currently producing 30 of them in larger sizes for a space at Google’s Mountainhead Headquarters which will be installed in October. I’m curious to find out what kinds of plants they are planning on placing inside.
What are the latest projects you have been working on?
Well, we recently completed a room divider called NightScape that is made of charred wood and silver leaf. It was another exploration on texture and light. The intricate texture of charred wood is quite remarkable and they respond to the change of light quite dramatically. So right now we are working on something with color, perhaps it’s a reaction after staring at the black and silver of this room divider for a long time. The working title is “painterly spectrum resin” and it will eventually be table/floor lamps. We are thinking of bringing colors in a different way to the space through these objects. Hopefully they will be ready in a couple of months.