Ecosexuality, bio-responsive gardens and other ways we’re going green

bioresponsive garden.jpg

Culture is going green. Last year witnessed an explosion of plant-based publications. There were books like Wonder Plants: Your Urban Jungle Interior by Irene Schampaert, promoting the power of a green interior, or Richard Mabey’s latest book, Cabaret of Plants, which marvels at all things vegetal. Now a handful of new magazines are approaching plants with the same intelligent connoisseurship we’ve most recently given to food. Plants are no longer the boring things that just sit in the corner of the room.

As the bioresponsive garden at the launch of L’Eden by Perrier-Jouët at London’s A/W ’16 Fashion week showed, plants can now be wired up to interact with us too. These particular botanicals were fitted with micro-electronic sensors to make them physically animated, mimicking the audience’s moves and dancing to the tunes.

“2017 will be the year of the plant,” says Sam Bompas, co-founder of Bompas and Parr who were behind the Perrier-Jouët installation. “People are starting to appreciate them in new ways, first for their health benefits as part of clean living and now as something you can really interact with, they are going to get sexy too.”

This is something that a certain group of ecologists have taken to heart. Their movement is called ‘ecosexuality’ - they engage in ‘ecosex’ to communicate their love for the planet. As their manifesto explains: “We shamelessly hug trees, massage the earth with our toes and talk erotically to plants.” Promoted in particular by performance artists, activists, and couple Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens, who see ecosexuality as a new form of sexual identity, the movement reflects the urgent need they feel to protect the environment and fighting climate change as a priority.

There’s an unquantifiable power in plants that people feel removed from as lives become increasingly urban and screen based, which is no doubt one of the reasons that Pantone has picked Greenery 15 0343 as its colour for 2017. A constant on the periphery, Pantone say ‘Greenery’ is now being pulled to the forefront as an omnipresent hue around the world: "Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment.

"Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvenate and revitalise, Greenery symbolises the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute.

Planted green walls are already dressing up our cities across the globe; not just because they’re good at hiding unsightly concrete, but also because they have been proven to alleviate air pollution, reduce the risk of flooding and regulate air temperature. Now they are moving into our buildings too. 2017 will also see more 'greening' of office spaces along the lines of Primary NYC, a progressive co-working concept that opened last year in New York. Its philosophy puts the emotional wellbeing and health of the worker centre stage, and plant power is a key part of this. Primary NYC describe theirs as a ‘mindful workspace’ and advertise each location as being 'filled with greenery; moss walls, fresh flowers and live planters’. Elsewhere, companies talk of the role this kind of greenery has on staff retention.

With a flurry of new food or cosmetic products now celebrating a ‘plant based formula’ (see Soylent CoffiestLyfeFuel Essential Shakes or skincare brand Peet Rivko), the appetite for green is insatiable.

Now the challenge for brands is to stay as fresh and zesty as Greenery’s yellow-green shade. To do this, they need to embrace this bold vision of what nature might mean and then show consumers how to get more of it in their lives.

Miriam Rayman, Flamingo

This article first appeared in the Campaign Asia: Cultural Radar series