Moss Carpet – La Chanh Nguyen

Moss Carpet

In the summer of 2008, Broken City Lab’s early days, we discussed using moss for a small number of projects.  While the current weather is not permissive of working outdoors with plants, I wouldn’t mind giving moss another chance come spring.  La Chanh Nguyen is way ahead of us, creating moss carpets for use indoors!  They never need to be washed and are resistant to mould.

“Created by Switzerland-based industrial designer La Chanh Nguyen, the small indoor greenspace features three types of live green mosses – ball moss, island moss and forest moss – that grow in individual “cells” of plastazote, a decay-free foam. This lovely little bathmat can even thrive under the dubious care of the green-thumb challenged: mosses flourish in damp, humid places, making bathrooms ideal homes for these comfy carpets.”

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Botanicalls at Conflux 2008

Botanicalls as part of Conflux 2008

Botanicalls is this incredible project I came across sometime last year. Essentially, it uses a microcontroller and sensor along with PHP and an open-source telephone system to allows plants to make phone calls and ask for water when they’re getting dried out. The project, as part ofConflux 2008, has become a walking tour in New York during which, “Participants call the Botanicalls main phoneline and navigate to the location-specific plant. Each tree or plant, speaks in their own ‘Botanicalls’ voice – which is based on their botanical habits and characteristics.” Not only do I think the project is a really great use of simple hardware and technology to create a novel experience, but the way in which they document and visually describe their project is really, really good.

Closed (Eco) Systems

Mathieu Lehanneur - Local River

Saw these two installations, made me wonder about the potentials for filtering water hydroponically, in place of using something like a Brita filter. The first project is Local Riverby Mathieu Lehanneur. The installation consists of a refrigerated aquarium that include live fish and vegetables working together to clean the water and provide nutrients for one another. 

DrinkPeeDrinkPeeDrinkPee by Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray

The second installation, DrinkPeeDrinkPeeDrinkPee, by Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray creates a demonstration of a closed-loop system where viewers are encouraged to sit on the toilet facing the water fountain, thereby closing the loop of tubes that form the installation. The tubes carry urine from the toilet, filtering it through two aquariums and a “biomechanical  reaction mechanism” and a plant that is fertilized by the reaction’s byproduct. There is also a DIY kit to carry out the process at home that was available at the Eyebeam Feedback show back in March.

I think these two projects are interesting in that they tackle a roughly similar idea with two very different types of execution. Lehanneur’s design is very clean and less science-diagram-ish than Riley and Bray’s installation, but I wonder if something like DrinkPeeDrinkPeeDrinkPee is more along the lines of what we might like to show (the aesthetic of naturally filtering water as a science-type project), rather than a demonstration of our collective design skills.