According to the Guardian, offices devoid of pictures, souvenirs or any other distractions are "the most toxic space you can put a human into”. A 2014 research by the Exeter University showed that when plants were installed in offices across EU and US, staff worked more efficiently as a result of this, with plants basically improving their memory, concentration, and productivity by 15%.
This phenomenon was at the centre of the latest project by Czech collective Haenke that focuses on multidisciplinary concepts connecting science and arts. In collaboration with Tereza Porybná, director of the Czech Centre London, they developed a way how to bring more greenery into new spaces of the governmental institution that promotes Czech culture in the UK, having just moved to the recently renovated building of the Czech Embassy in Notting Hill.
Haenke’s approach puts emphasis on the building’s incredible cultural heritage: built in 1970 by Czech architect Jan Bočan, the brutalist complex received the prestigious RIBA Architecture Award in 1971 and continues to be a landmark for lovers of concrete ever since. The aim was to work with concrete on the inside, too, and to juxtapose the material with the immense richness of colours and forms offered by various house plants. Those were carefully selected not only to fulfil their aesthetic function, but thanks to their air-purifying capabilities to also improve the quality of working conditions in such a remarkable interiors.
Houseplants were sourced from London’s eminent foliage heaven Conservatory Archives while the amazing concrete planters were provided by Conpot London, a Peckham-based design studio that specializes in hand-cast concrete homeware, each product having a distinct geological identity.
Both video and music were made by Anežka Horová. A student of visual media at the FAMU Academy of Arts in Prague, Anežka has collaborated with the likes of Mercedes Benz Prague Fashion Week, fashion design brand LAFORMELA, and regularly directs music videos of both Czech and international independent artists. Her music is based on soundscapes she collected during the installation in London, providing raw authenticity to the piece as well as the art of planting itself.