“Everyone loves flowers and plants, and it’s something you can do for a short period of time without worrying about maintaining it, which is so difficult,” says Robert Storey, a London-based spatial designer.
In 2016, Storey designed a “shoe park” pop-up for Everlane, drawing on the look of French and English gardens to give life to an otherwise sparse, industrial space. He describes the geometric, plant-filled shop as an “urban oasis,” meant to have a transportive effect on shoppers. This speaks to another major shift in the retail world that has enabled the popularity of plant-based installations: the rise of “experiential retail.” Because shopping online is so easy, people now need a reason to go into stores, and creating a unique, Instagrammable environment is one way to lure them in. A wild plant display can do the trick.
“A lot of customers, especially Gen Z, want to feel like a brand has authenticity and honesty, and there’s something so honest about nature,” says Storey. “When you enter a space that has plants and greenery, it makes the space feel clean and healthy and abundant.”
Lily Kwong, the landscape designer who created Glossier’s Seattle store, has also installed mossy knolls in Manhattan’s Grand Central Station and a snaking mass of flowers in a Taipei market on behalf of EVA Air. In an email, Kwong writes that her studio’s mission is to “reconnect urban people to nature,” and with their enormous scale and delicate construction, these pieces couldn’t fail to grab pedestrians’ attention.