Decorate a rainforest?

Thinking Green and Design fit perfectly together in a new, innovative company, Green House Effect, run by three young men. The company provides walls made out of plants, sort of "living interior designs" for office spaces and private homes.

Thinking Green and Design fit perfectly together in a new, innovative company, Green House Effect, run by three young men.

These "plant walls" will be on display as part of the World Design Capital year in the university’s Think Corner starting in the beginning of March.

The "father" of the company, student Mikko Sonninen at the University of Helsinki, was initially inspired by rainforests and jungle sceneries. Together with another student, Jaakko Pesonen, and Oula Harjula, whose expertise are in the corporate world, he started refining his idea by participating in the Aalto University’s "Summer of Startups" innovation competition.

The end result of the work was the wall made out of plants called “LIVING CANVAS”. Name is very telling: the wall looks like a living work of art. The wall of plants is not just beautiful; it also improves the acoustics of the space and the quality of the air, thus providing "ecosystem services" for the customers.

Living canvases can be put up in spaces with no natural light and they need no soil to live in. All the Green House Effect-products use hydroponics, a technique where water filled with nutrients is pumped into a growth medium for the plants to use and any extras flow back to the circulation. So no watering of the plants is needed.

The walls themselves are made out of recycled materials and lighting is provided using LED-lamps. A small, electric pump is needed to keep the water circulating.

Living canvas has been met with much enthusiasm. In the Habitare '11 fair, the Green House Effect section was awarded the best in the under 40m2 category. Lots of people came by to admire the plant walls.

– There must have been a need for green thinking in interior design. People are looking for alternatives for machines and technology, says Oula Harjula.

The Green House Effect men want to honour the company's original source of inspiration and the keen hobby of Mikko Sonninen, tropical rainforests, by buying 1000m2 of rainforest for conservation from the World Land Trust for every square meter of living canvas bought.

By the end of year 2011, 30 000m2 of rainforest was already protected by them.

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Text: Ulla Tuomainen
Photo: Green House Effect
University of Helsinki, digital communications

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