From June 30th to July 10th, the smart electric base stops in Rome. As part of the event, floral designer Dylan Tripp gave a workshop on how to create a little piece of nature in even the most minimalist urban home. We caught up with him to find out more.

Dylan, you gave a Green Therapy workshop at the smart electric base in Rome on the 6th of July. What was in store for the attendees?
Dylan Tripp: My Green Therapy workshop was all about showing how you can create a terrarium: a small “garden” in a glass bowl. All you need is some soil and plants. Of course, there’s an art to it – and that’s what my workshop was about.

Sounds fascinating. But apart from growing more green in our spaces: What are the benefits of creating such a miniature garden?
Dylan Tripp: It’s really a kind of therapy. You do something with your hands, which is very relaxing. It’s an opportunity to detach from the stresses of life. Also, there’s something very calming about touching soil or the roots of a plant, about making that connection. We tap into something ancestral, a feeling of being grounded. You get a sense of wellbeing, and consequently you open your heart. The same is also true when we arrange a bunch of flowers. It’s a moment to take time out, to stop rushing around – and we really need that right now.

With space being at a premium in big cities, the terrarium with its boxy layout and glass housing seems like the perfect solution.
Dylan Tripp: Absolutely. The terrarium is great for small spaces. You could live in just one room and have a beautiful corner with a little plant and a bunch of flowers – and that little spot of beauty gives you something, it completes the rhythm of your life. Just a little cactus in your bathroom can be enough. We all live in big cities with small flats, so the terrarium is a little piece of nature in your apartment. 

In the introduction to your workshop, you talk about “plant power”. We find that intriguing – could you expand on this?
Dylan Tripp: Plants and nature have great power. You can witness that in abandoned villages: The first thing that emerges after the people leave is nature, taking back what belongs to it. We can build our world but when we are gone, nature will still be here. So it is very powerful and we always forget about that. Sometimes, this power is intimidating and sometimes, it’s very beautiful. And don’t forget that we are part of nature too.

You do a lot of floral arranging, too. What are your thoughts on cut flowers as compared to living plants?
Dylan Tripp: Living plants and cut flowers are two different things. Cut flowers are about the beauty of a moment that is soon to pass. They are a symbol of transience, of memento mori. Everything is concentrated in a bouquet that will last just a few days: It’s beautiful yet impermanent. I find this fascinating. I also like it when the flowers start to wilt. There’s beauty in that too. Living plants are the opposite. The more you take care of them, the more they live.

Are there any flowers or plants that are trendy right now?
Dylan Tripp: Currently, grasses as well as spontaneous flowers like poppies or anemones are popular. But going forward, we will see a growing trend towards succulents and cacti. That makes sense, as water is becoming more scarce. Tropical leaves such as the monstera and protea will also be favorites.

What will the garden of the 21st century look like?
Dylan Tripp: California is always a good predictor for that – not only because California tends to look towards the future, but also because it is a state where water is already a luxury. Everything that doesn’t need a lot of water will be very present, such as cacti, succulents and epiphytes – plants whose leaves can absorb water from the air. We will also have a lot of beautiful dry flower arrangements. I’m currently working on that. They last long and don’t need any water – I see them as a kind of still life. So everything in our homes and gardens will be informed by this environmental mega trend.

Dylan’s workshop at smart electric base took place in Rome on the 6th of July.