Last Christmas I found myself on Floral Street, a cobbled side road behind Covent Garden, when a shopfront caught my eye. Lush plants and flowers were pressed up against the glass framed in a steamy haze, like a greenhouse on a hot day.
I walked into an oasis of hanging delphiniums & gypsophila, topiary inspired by Christian Louboutin’s château gardens, pressed flowers and sculptures. I had stumbled upon ‘The Rakes Progress’ Pop Up, a publication that takes a contemporary look at flowers, plants and gardens and the green fingered creatives working within arts, fashion and design. These vary from florists for luxury fashion shows, to stately home gardeners to botanical mixologists.
Rakes Progress illustrates how gardening has long offered and continues to offer, a means of aesthetic expression through art and nature. The garden’s featured are a display of taste and style, as well as an individual or culture’s philosophy, status, and, at times, national pride.
The role gardens, plants and flowers play in our increasingly frictionless lives is often underplayed, but as we wake up to the uniquely modern problems we face (sedentary lives, unhealthy diets, stress, social isolation, pollution and nature deprivation), we’re increasingly looking to the natural world to help solve these issues.
Thinking bigger than the pot plant on your desk, The Global Wellness Institute believes there will soon be living buildings with energy-producing algae embedded in their walls.
Incorporating biophillic design; natural materials, natural light, vegetation, nature views and other experiences of the natural world into the modern built environment could help to solve our inability to connect with nature.
Although many of us live in city bubbles a world away from a lot of the stories featured in the pages of Rakes Progress, it offers an escape to a world that is vital to our survival and is helping to design a better city for us to live in.
Like the natural world, this publication is packed full of contrasts; beautiful and delicate, but also dangerous, poisonous and odd. I think that’s why I like them both so much.