text by ALYSSA CLOUGH
photography by LAUREN JURATOVAC
In a world where parks don’t have reliable Wi-Fi and coffee shops are becoming increasingly cramped, finding a peaceful spot to work or relax is a challenge. Fortunately, for us, Breather, the app that helps you rent beautiful, private spaces for meetings, or well, just a breather, teamed up with our all-time favorite plant shop, The Sill, to create a breathtaking space filled with over 50 types of plants. Yes, 50! We got the scoop on how the space was created and just how beneficial indoor plants are for your health and productivity from Erin Marino, the PR & Marketing Manager of The Sill. If you don’t already have a plant sitting on your desk, we guarantee you’ll want one after seeing this space.
HOW DID THE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE SILL AND BREATHER COME ABOUT?
Breather founder and CEO Julien Smith, and The Sill founder and CEO Eliza Bank, first connected on brainstorming how both brands could create an immersive experience focused on the importance of living plants in the workspace. Their idea was to create “the ideal workspace” at one of Breather’s New York City locations. Breather is constantly exploring new ideas around workspaces that promote focus and productivity—and it is overwhelmingly clear that having living plants present in a workspace improves an employee’s ability to maintain attention, and boosts their productivity and well-being , among other mental and physical health benefits. In that spirit—and in celebration of the first day of Spring—Breather and The Sill partnered to create The Oasis at Breather’s 55 West 19th Street location.
HOW MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF PLANTS ARE LOCATED IN THIS ROOM?
Too many to count! There’s over 50 different types of plants in The Oasis space: assorted varieties of succulents and cacti, assorted varieties of air plants (including gorgeous, over-sized Xerographica), assorted ferns (including the Staghorn fern and Crocodile fern—and Asparagus fern, which is not a true fern but a member of the Lily family!), assorted Dracaena (including the Tarzan), a wild Monstera deliciosa, the Ficus Amstel and the Ficus Elastica, hanging Spider Plants, Kentia Palm, Bird of Paradise, Aglaonema, Phillodendron, Sago Palm, Pleomele, preserved moss, and more…
WAS IT HARD TO DESIGN BASED OFF WHAT TYPE OF SUNLIGHT EACH PLANT NEEDS?
Lucky for us, The Sill team, the Breather space has floor to ceiling south-facing windows, which flood the L-shaped room with ample sunlight. Most common indoor plants prefer bright indirect light, so this allowed us to really have free range when picking plants. Because this is New York City, the building directly across the street helped us out by creating a little natural shade in the space—so the plants wouldn’t fry midday. The L-shape of the room also allowed us to fill the furthest wall with plants that prefer lower light levels, like assorted ferns and peperomias.
HOW MUCH WORK DOES IT TAKE TO KEEP A SPACE LIKE THIS ALIVE?
The Sill focuses on easy to care for plants (“no green thumb required!”) so maintenance for the room in its entirety takes only about an hour a week. That said, the room is to be maintained by a dedicated Plant Specialist from The Sill, given the wide variety and needs from each plant type.
DO YOU THINK A SETUP LIKE THIS IS SUSTAINABLE FOR A WORKPLACE?
Absolutely! Having plants in the workplace increases productivity, creativity, and helps create an overall sense of calm, even in an otherwise hectic environment. It is a great investment for companies big or small, whether they are planning to care for the plants themselves, or hire The Sill to help maintain them. The benefits are immediate and long lasting.
YOU MENTIONED THAT PLANTS ADD CERTAIN BENEFITS TO WORK SPACES. WHAT EXACTLY ARE THOSE BENEFITS?
The benefits of indoor plants are insanely underrated. They don’t just look good—they also have been shown to make us feel good, mentally and physically.
ACCORDING TO MARINO, INDOOR PLANTS:
boost morale, productivity, concentration, and creativity reduce stress, fatigue, sore throats, and colds improve indoor air quality by absorbing toxins, increasing humidity, and producing oxygen improve offices by softening sterile interiors, dividing areas, and reducing noise levels are aesthetically pleasing to look at and therapeutic to care for.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE WHO IS LOOKING TO BRING PLANT LIFE INTO THEIR WORKSPACE BUT CAN’T GO ALL OUT LIKE YOU DID HERE?
Our best advice is twofold: first pick your plants based on the light your space receives; and second narrow down your selection based on their care requirements. This will ensure that your plants thrive in their new environment, and under your care. For example, if you have a bright sunny space, look for plants that require bright light, then within that category, plants that require the same care. Assorted succulents and cacti would do well in a sunny space and both thrive from infrequent (i.e. once a month during the fall and winter, increasing slightly during the spring and summer) waterings. A Fiddle Leaf Fig would also thrive in a sunny space, but would require weekly—not monthly—waterings.
I LOVE THE MOSS WALL. WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE ARE SO OBSESSED WITH THEM? ARE YOU A FAN?
Thanks! We definitely love all things green. And we’ve been seeing an increased interest in preserved moss. It’s far less difficult to maintain than a conventional green wall full of thirsty plants. This particular moss wall requires no maintenance—just that the relative humidity in the room stays above 40%.
HOW DID YOU SECURE THE AIR PLANTS TO THE WALL?
With The Sill’s locally made Air Plant Holders! They were designed by our VP of Brand, Andrew Erdle, who also designed our ceramic planters. They’re powder coated steel, and made in New Jersey. They can sit upright on a flat surface, or be secured to the wall with single screw or command strip. Because they’re so lightweight, we were able to use command strips to attach them to the wall in The Oasis space—even those holding the larger Xerographica!