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Plant-in-City's Architectural Terrariums

Whether from wood or copper, these ecosystems house wonders

by David Graver
on 18 December 2015

With the ease of upkeep for air plants and terrariums—not to mention their flourishing, eco-wonderland-like contributions to offices and living spaces—there is an array of curious new options on the market. One, rather distinct from the rest, is NYC-based Plant-in-City founded by Huy Bui. In lieu of glass or ceramics, Bui works with wood, copper and steel—and his geometric pieces take their design cues from modular architecture. Inside his creations, Bui houses cacti and succulents, along with moss he forages from upstate New York. And whether bought separately, or in sets, each terrarium is customizable, even after purchase.

"I first started with the motivation of designing and building green walls for my workshop and home," Bui explains to CH. "However, the instability—rising rents, and the threat of constantly uprooting—of New York City required a more flexible idea. I thought that merging modular design with the idea of bringing nature to the city was a solution to explore." From there, Bui began exploring various materials and sizes, from desktop displays to stackable wall partitions, all while figuring out irrigation and lighting systems. The result is Plant-in-City's range of terrariums.

Bui, who has a Masters of Architecture from Parsons School of Design, says "I worked for a couple of small design firms when I graduated but, shortly thereafter, I began to work independently in the design and build of interiors, furniture and art installations." His clients ranged from retail to residential projects. It's this background that makes his work distinct—as he puts it, he is making "a miniature or model of a larger vision of bringing nature to the city at various scales." From cross-bracing to cantilevering planes, there are plenty of recognizable architectural flourishes. Moreover, the pieces' ability to be stacked or combined lends further structural advantages; they are "a mathematical composition that allows for stacking, much like a Lego system," Bui explains.

Bui and his collaborators source all their wood from sustainably harvested locations in New York state, and the wooden terrariums are made in his Brooklyn workshop. Each piece takes a couple of days to construct. "We believe in the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts," he concludes. This is noticeable in his work.

Browse the Plant-in-City offerings online, where prices begin at $275

Images courtesy of Plant-in-City

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