When Quiksilver opened a flagship store in Venice architect and store designer Tatiana Barhar reached out to Airplantman to collaborate on something special. The design involved a floor-to-ceiling raw steel intervention creating a focal point to draw pedestrians into the retail space and giving shoppers a place to pause at the wrap around seating integrated into the piece. The process of the piece naturally rusting and changing in appearance over time is part of its appeal. Copper is the only metal poisonous to air plants, a little bit of steel rust does not harm them. The rugged appearance of this piece worked well with the mix of reclaimed wood and surf/skate style on display. Josh worked late into the night climbing ladders to plant this one with an assortment of specimen air plants pulled from a mix of local nursery courses. The giant Tillandsia straminea which can be seen poking far beyond the frames are actually delightfully fragrant when in bloom. These were mixed with stricta, juncea, xerographica and a host of other species. The solid steel frames were quite heavy to move when we strung and planted them, making us glad a full construction team along with a structural engineer were part of the project! The result was striking and drew customers in with its unexpected and striking aesthetic while also inviting them to pause and enjoy the view.
So how did we keep this one alive! A skylight above the piece combined with adjacent windows provided natural light and doors were often left open creating an opportunity for fresh air. The watering again was the challenge as this piece was far to large and heavy for us to rotate the display. While we typically don't encourage store employees to be tasked with caring for our projects, in this case we were surprised to see the enthusiasm the staff had and 'fights' broke out over who got the chance the spray down the plants at the end of a shift. Concrete floors were easy to wipe up any overspray from and the a hand held 1 gallon pump sprayer was more than sufficient to get even the uppermost air plants dripping wet!