Meet the Showroom: Plant Drop
Founder Dom Butler says that Plant Drop’s mission is “to fill homes and gardens with interesting and impressive specimens from the finest growers in the world”. New to Design Centre East, this is the first showroom in the Design Centre dedicated to plants, with the aim of bringing horticulture closer to the world of interior design. Read on for more of Butler’s green-fingered wisdom about the new space,
What brought Plant Drop to Design, Centre, Chelsea Harbour?
As the home of design in the UK, it is the go-to place for interior designers to source most things for a project, but plants were notably absent. There are few outlets where designers can go to see and source such impressive statement specimens, and now we have a space dedicated to showcasing them that means they can be considered as part of the overall design concept. It also gives us a stage to share some of the newest and most interesting plants you don’t see elsewhere.
What should we expect from the showroom?
Firstly, it is filled with plants, so it is very different from other showrooms. We have zoned the space to show the different plants that work in different light conditions – getting the right light is often the trickiest part of choosing a plant, so we have made it as simple as possible. In addition we have a good selection of planters made from a host of materials, so our visitors can gauge the finishes and sizes. We have also included a range of smaller plants and pots that can be bought and taken away to finish off a project.
Why should customers visit in person as opposed to looking/buying online?
The reason we opened the space is to be able to offer a different retail experience, to connect more with our design clients who are specifying spaces often months in advance and off-plan, and who need to be confident they are offering their clients the best. Our services can also be showcased better in-person, such as the different stone and moss finishes on offer. It is a great space to learn about the plants, get the right advice and to really appreciate the detail.
What’s your brand’s design philosophy?
We exist to help people discover the power of plants. Plants can bring joy, awe, make a statement, help us relax, feel at home. They can transport us around the world, take us back home, to travels long gone, they can heal our bodies and our minds, nourish our souls. Plants have always been part of our lives and in the industrial and technological age we have become disconnected from nature, but fortunately there has been a resurgence in our interest in nature and gardening. The pandemic played a big part in reconnecting us with our little patch of the outdoors, or our indoor jungle for us city dwellers.
Is there a ‘hero’ product that you feel sums up your brand, or that’s been a long-standing bestseller?
The fiddle-leaf fig (ficus lyrata), without doubt. It is an Instagram sensation, but it is more than that. It is a natural sculpture, a piece of art in our homes, with beautiful thick gnarly stems and big green canopies. They are also such a versatile plant: we have bush forms, branched trees, slender stem lollipop heads, thick stemmed three-metre Goliaths. All they need is a spot with bright indirect light and watering when the soil has become dry to the touch. Easy, and quite magnificent.
Are there trends in plants just as there are in interiors?
Yes. We had the variegated monstera trend among plant collectors, the fiddle-leaf with designers, and the Swiss cheese with Instagram, but more and more we are finding designers want something unique, which poses a problem from a care perspective, as we have to make sure it is something well suited to being in our homes or gardens. The biggest trend right now in houseplants is the black olive tree (bucida buceras) ‘shady lady’ [pictured above] – Gwyneth Paltrow has one, as does the Design Centre. They are loved for their small leaves and the appearance of an outdoor tree that can live indoors. The big trend outdoors is citrus, with a warmer climate in the UK, and our unique micro-climate in London, your lemon tree fruits will ripen. We are offering grapefruits, calamondin, oranges, citrons, kumquats and limes – so really, ice and a slice this summer can be quite a tricky choice.
What about all the products you sell that aren’t plants?
We like to think we have one of the greatest pot collections in the UK. We are the exclusive stockist of Jennifer Newman’s ‘Drum’ and ‘Stak’ planters which are clever and manufactured in England. We have terracotta from Danish maker Bergs, as well as Tuscan houses, and Spanish artisans. Our designer pot offering from Serax included names like Piet Boon and Marie Michelson, and planters made from everything from concrete to paper-mache. We then have a whole host of accessories from organic plant food from Plantsmith, to Haws watering cans that are works of art, to Niwaki hand-tools which are pure Japanese precision.
From a design perspective, the right pot can make or break a look. It can be as large an object as a chair in many larger homes and spaces, so it really needs to be the right look, and has to suit the designer’s vision. The planter shape and look also needs to find balance with the plant, as an overly large planter with a plant too small can look strange and throw the whole space off.
Is there anything else you’d like the Design Centre community to know about Plant Drop?
We are plant hunters. We have access to thousands of species and cultivars of plants from around the world. We really do like to be challenged and our sourcing service is here to help you push your designs with the use of unique plants and planters. So while we have all the finest specimen bestsellers, we also have some interesting plants you may not have seen, so it is always worth stopping by.