Meet Plant People, the husband-wife duo who charmed Junior Bachchan with their ‘Breathe’ decor
Komal Garg and Angud Bhalla believe that no space is too small for them. They can transform a corner, a window or even a shower cubicle into a garden.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of a garden? A sprawling patch covered in lush green? Or a beautifully landscaped terrace dotted with potted plants, climbers, and hanging décor? The very thought ushers in serenity, right?
Now try and picturise all of this in the urban jungle; where life is mostly contained within the four walls of an apartment, where time poverty is a real thing, and maintaining a garden is nothing less than a luxury. Even the enthusiastic ones come to a roadblock with this concern: ‘where’s the space for a garden?’
Mumbai-based Plant Studio is pushing beyond all these hurdles to breathe life into urban spaces with a dash of green. A brainchild of Komal Garg and Angud Bhalla, a former TV writer and an adman, the company is what you would call a modern plant studio. They create vertical gardens, install live plants, plant paintings, and so much more.
In conversation with YSWeekender, the duo spills the beans on what got them started, the season’s hottest plant trends, and their whacky creation for Junior B, Abhishek Bachchan himself.
YSWeekender: How is Plant People different from a nursery?
Komal and Angud: We see ourselves as a botanical design company over and above being a plant nursery. The idea is to create planned, designed green spaces with a clear aesthetic rather than just adding pots and plants. Same goes for smaller plant arrangements and green gifting; we love coming up with new designs and ideas. Also, no space is too small for us – give us a corner, a window, a shower cubicle and we’ll turn it into a garden.
YSW: How did you come up with the idea?
K&A: We knew we were nuts about plants. So were our friends and family. We had almost a thousand plants at home. Every now and then, we would jokingly say, ‘Let’s start selling them.’
Our family members would even pipe in, ‘Tum dono maali ban jao!’ (you two should become gardeners). And then we sold a small plant, then a big one, did up an entire office, then a restaurant and thus Plant People was born. But as a side project, as one of us was writing for television and the other was an adman at the time. We took out time from our busy schedules to nurture this idea.
YSW: Tell us about your vertical gardens
K&A: If you bring the walls of a home into the equation, a 1200 square feet space can become 1800 square feet. It’s a big empty canvas, that can soak up things: paintings, shelves, TVs, lamps and of course, plants, without taking up precious real estate on the floor.
There’s a certain beauty to vertical gardens. Like ivy which has climbed onto an old wall and consumed every inch of concrete. We look at vertical gardens similarly, as a way of letting nature grow back over our urban spaces.
YSW: How can we set up a vertical garden in a small space or a studio apartment?
K&A: Just give us a buzz and shazam [they laugh]! No seriously, it takes a fair bit of planning and technical knowhow. Understanding the light conditions, the physical structure, ensuring there’s drainage, water supply, getting the right measurements, fittings and frame. It begins with a site survey, followed by design renders, approval and then the final setup.
YSW: People are increasing opting for green gifting ideas, how did you welcome this trend?
K&A: It’s heartening to see so many people moving towards green gifting nowadays. We offer a huge variety of gifting options to suit every pocket - for individuals as well as corporates.
Decorative potted plants, terrariums – big and small, living paintings, herb gardens, creative pot-less customised arrangements with branding or to suit a concept or a theme, plant hampers, window gardens (Yes, a client of ours gifted her friend a window garden as a wedding gift!).
You name it, we make it. Plant-based gifts are actually great for pretty much any occasion… It’s a big list, and a growing one at that.
YSW: How do you think plants help transform a home or an office?
K&A: For any space – be it a home, office or even a restaurant, plants have become an integral part of décor and aesthetics rather than just being an afterthought. In many cases, clients, interior designers or architects are reaching out to us right at the design or construction stage, which is great because it then becomes a lot easier to gel the green decor with the rest of the design language of that particular space.
Also, having a healthy dose of green around you livens up the space and is pleasant to look at – it also considerably increases oxygen levels, consequently improving concentration levels and reducing mental fatigue.
YSW: What aesthetics do you keep in mind while choosing certain plants to go with the rest of the décor?
K&A: The most important factor when choosing plants for any space is the natural light that the spot is receiving. Then comes the aesthetics, which is thought of as per the materials or colours that are already prominent in a given décor and also the mindset, preference, capability to maintain plants or the lack of it.
YSW: What are the popular trends among plant enthusiasts?
K&A: Biophilic Design (a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment through the use of direct nature, indirect nature, and space and place conditions). is a trend which is very popular abroad and we’re working hard to get more and more people to embrace it.
In India, terrariums are quite popular as unique table-top arrangements. Vertical gardens, too, but with a twist. Clients are asking for interesting forms and shapes. Big leafy plants like Fiddle Leaf and Monstera are also in demand.
YSW: What is the craziest décor or setup you have created with plants?
K&A: The living painting was quite unique. Also, some of the recent installations, including a metal tree in an apartment with plants suspended from it is right up there. A gift that we made for Abhishek Bachchan’s birthday on the behalf of a production house, announcing him starring in the 2nd season of the series BREATHE was pretty cool as well.
YSW: Summer is coming up – please list some tips or tricks for gardening enthusiasts/ first-time gardeners.
K&A: Water plants more generously to keep them well hydrated, check for dry soil in the evenings and repeat watering if necessary. Some plants’ leaves are susceptible to sunburn – keep an eye out for that. Consider putting up a thin garden shade net to protect the plants placed in full sun during extreme summer months.
YSW: Moving ahead, what are your plans?
K&A: We hashtag a lot of Plant People’s posts with our core belief, ‘#GreenKaroScene’. In the long run, we intend for Plant People to be an organisation that would make a real, tangible difference to the environment for the better, even if it’s one houseplant at a time. It may sound ambitious right now, but we’re constantly working on ideas to make it a reality.
To give some perspective on how a difference can be made, Komal’s father, during his time in the Army, commanded an ecological battalion in Rajasthan, some 100 kms away from Bikaner. In the middle of nowhere, the battalion planted 18 lakh trees, with a hundred per cent survival rate in the desert during three years! The area saw rainfall increase within this tenure itself!
That’s inspiration as well as encouragement for us - if a few years of sustained effort could do that, the possibilities are endless, exciting and so real! We’re committed to making it happen.