When the Starbucks Reserve design team reached out to Airplantman to assist with their new Waikiki location we jumped at the opportunity. A beautifully designed store with custom millwork needed just a touch of green to bring to life and we were excited to collaborate on something truly beautiful and unique.
Focused on an interior column Airplantman built a unique piece directly into the millwork that seemingly emerges from the Architecture and brings the topical flavor of Hawaii inside the space while encouraging guests walking past to enter and explore. Josh Rosen actually first learned of Tillandsia or air plants during a trip to Hawaii decades earlier. The sight of these incredibly unique, diverse, and soil-less plants was so intriguing it lead to a lifetime of collection/hoarding. While moving between New Jersey, Chicago, Tucson and finally Los Angeles Josh's collection always came with, making itself the lightest and easiest plant member to transport. Josh's love for Hawaii never diminished either and during a landscape architecture internship on Oahu he sought out the best local air plant growers. Although not native, Tillandsia thrive in the warm wet and sunny climate of the Hawaiian Islands. After extensive nursery visits Josh found a truly spectacular greenhouse filled with the most vivid collection of air plants he had ever seen. The relationship with the dedicated grower continued over many years and when it came time to source plants for the project Josh had just the source to call. The phyto-certificates required for typical international plant importatation is restrictive enough that when combined with Hawaii's own set of regulations having a local source saved a lot of time and money! It was beyond rewarding to finally have the opportunity to utilize this astounding collection of Tillandsia and bring them to a wide audience of international visitors and locals.
How to Keep Looking Good
Everyone asks about the care and maintenance components for our projects (great question!). Nothing bothers us more than a beautiful living wall installation that hasn't incorporated a thoughtful maintenance solution to keep it thriving. In this instance we had good natural light from adjacent floor to ceiling windows. Watering would be the primary challenge, and in case like this we look to local plant maintenance companies when we aren't local enough to service ourselves. Through a landscape architecture colleague Josh found a talented maintenance company only too happy to learn more about these incredible plants and add them to their repertoire of plant care knowledge. This project was challenging to water since the piece was uniquely built-in with no way of removing. To address this the maintenance team regularly stop by to give the plants a good spray down (usually without customers getting wet) and carefully clean up any overspray that pools on the floor. It has been many years and the piece still looks amazing! While a few plants get swapped out over time their overall health is strong. We love instances like this were there is a real challenge like watering in place and we are able to find a solution even when built-in irrigation is not possible. We see care as a kit of parts with many options to approach at different levels of design complexity and budget. Thankfully we were able to coordinate training and introducing this dedicated maintenance team with the client and the installation always looks it's best year round.