Botanical is one epithet that describes the present times accurately. Green plant motifs are ubiquitous and city dwellers seem to have an insatiable desire to be in the proximity of greenery, whether at home, at work, in coffee places, stores, restaurants. It also relates to a penchant for vintage and a revival of the mid-century aesthetics and mood, which boasts an abundance of indoor plants as one of its main features.
Rose Ray and Caro Langton are self-taught botanical specialists and indoor plant curators and stylists who have been transforming urban spaces in London since 2014. They befriended during a fashion design course and knew that their creative energies would converge somehow at some point under the name RoCo. An inspiring stay in San Francisco for Rose where she was exposed to the locals’ veneration of interior gardening and the beautifully maintained conservatory inherited by Caro from her grandmother were the two illuminating clicks that led to the creation of RoCo design studio in London. In 2016, they co-authored “House of Plants”, a beautifully illustrated guide to contemporary living with plants. The book is dedicated to Caro’s grandmother Ann.
Why is there such an obvious increasing interest in populating the indoors with lots of greens, recently?
Lots of reasons, really. I think it’s partly a response to the lack of space young people living in the city tend to have, offering a way to nurture something without too much hassle and feel fulfilled. It’s also perhaps because plants are so photogenic that they have become so trendy, and also due to the increased concern with issues such as waste and environmental destruction.
Do you think it is just a temporary trend? Or once you go botanical you never go back?
We think once you go botanical, you never go back. As long as it’s a genuine interest and you see that plants as more than just decoration, they become more and more addictive!
Who are your usual clients? Mostly residential or business?
Mainly businesses – we think individuals often enjoy going out and finding their own plants to fall in love with, whereas businesses are more keen for help with choosing and styling them.
Do you fill the spaces with plants working around the existing furniture and objects or do you readjust and replace the items to accommodate the plants?
We tend to try to work the plants around existing furnishings, looking out for vacant spaces such as the corners, free surfaces and hanging room. What’s great is that you really don’t need a lot of plants to transform a space.
Is there a formula to match certain variety of plants with the existing plants on site?
Not specifically, no, but a good thing to consider would be whether the existing plants are thriving in their positions, and, if so, you know it would be good to add more of a similar species or family of plants.
Can we speak about mismatching when it comes to placing a plant in a space? Or are plants generally just extremely versatile?
We think it’s great to mismatch plant heights, textures and pot materials, but in terms of plant species, most will want quite specific light levels and watering routines. That said, some extremely versatile plants include the snake plant, cast iron plant and spider plant, which will seemingly adapt to most indoor environments.
What plant accessories do you prefer? Do you also design plant accessories?
We do, yes. You can find some of our products on our website, such as hanging planters and geometric air plant mobiles. We like to use a mixture of different textures, combining organic materials such as marble, terracotta, stoneware ceramics, different natural ropes and wooden elements with manmade materials like concrete or metals.
Are there plants that reject other plants around them? And vice-versa, plants that really enjoy the company of other plants?
We’ve luckily never experienced plants rejecting each other, but grouping topical plants can help to increase the humidity around them, which can help to keep them happy.
Are there ugly plants?
Even dead plants can be beautiful, sometimes!
Are there superstitions about certain plants, like some bring bad luck, etc.? If so, do your clients reject certain plants based on this?
No, we’ve never experienced this. It tends to be more about the look of the plants than their connotations. Some people felt superstitious about the crystals we used to use in our terrariums, though!
How can you make sure you do not overwater the plants?
That’s a really tricky one, because it depends so much on the environment. As a basic rule, we suggest putting a finger into the top of the plant’s soil up to your knuckle. If the soil is bone dry, it’s time to water. If the soil feels at all damp, don’t water.
Do you check on the interiors you “plant-potted” later to see how they are taken care of?
Absolutely! We offer maintenance with our styling services, so we get to check up on them regularly ☺
What does the choice of plants say about a person?
To be honest, it’s not something we really think about. Anyone who likes the colour green is alright in our eyes! Asking people about the plants they own is always an interesting way to find out more about them, though, and it does tend to be quite sensitive people who cherish their green friends.
What can be said about people that do not care about plants?
They’ll come around – gift them a plant!
Interview: DAMARIS OTT
Photo: RoCo Archive