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Plant as Interaction Tool to Improve Office Experience

Flora brings all the fun and benefits of a community garden into the daily life within an office. Flora’s visually appealing design encourages users to interact with plants, while the user friendly details make it easy to take care of them. As a social interaction tool to improve office experience, the individual pots facilitates a sense of community within the office.
Year:  Fall 2019

band saw,
basic wood working tools.

Material:  Plywood,
blue foam, spackle,
spray paint.


How can we take advantage of office surroundings to encourage social interaction and a sense of community amongst workers?

    Work, in one form or another, is an integral component of our lives. For many of us, desk jobs occupy at least two thirds of our waking time during the week. Long days alone at a desk leaves many workers feeling isolated and lonely, often only interacting with coworkers in a professional context. This isolation is not only detrimental to the mental health of a worker, but also to the quality of the work being produced. 

    With most office products available on the market focusing on increasing employee efficiency and productivity, few remember to account for the individual’s well being. The office holds the potential to be more than just a work environment; it is a conduit for the community to socialize, relax, recharge, and have fun in addition to completing tasks as a collective whole.

Design Opportunity

Most of us know instinctively that being close to greenery makes us feel more at ease with our surroundings. We experience less stress when there are plants around us. Buildings are quieter and more relaxed but, at the same time, more stimulating and interesting. A substantial body of academic research, has shown conclusively that interior landscaping has dramatic effects on the wellbeing of building occupants. There is general agreement amongst scientists that plants improve the indoor environment and are useful in fighting the modern phenomenon of Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). Plants improve air quality and help lower background noise.


Current Usage of Plants in an Office ︎ No Physical Interaction Between Plants and People

However, plants are not being utilized to their full potential. They are used merely as backdrops or decor to fill up a space. The physical interaction with plants, which leads to personal connection with plants, is an integral point to improving ones’ wellbeing. But the current way that plants are used in office spaces does not fullfill that.

“Gardening 30 minutes a day significantly brings down stress level.”

- Jeanne Croteau, Forbes.

Community Garden

Community gardens make it possible for many people to enjoy a resource that they couldn’t afford on their own. However, it’s not just the gardeners themselves who gain from community gardens – the benefits extend to the rest of the neighborhood and even to society as a whole. Sharing a community garden gives people a chance to connect with their neighbors. Gardeners also feel more personally invested in the places where they live, gaining sense of ownership and community spirit. 

But it is hard to keep a plant alive!  In a busy office, it is hard to maintain plants. Some people find it hard to keep a plant alive and remember when to water them. There may be a mental pressure to having to taking care of a plant.


Market Research - Vapiano

Vapiano is a German restaurant franchise company headquartered in Cologne. The chain's restaurants offer Italian food adhering to the fast-casual principle. The food is ordered directly from the chefs at the individual stations in the middle of the restaurant. The chefs prepare all of the dishes to order in front of the guests. Everyone can have his meal prepared to his own personal preference.
Made to order food
Clean and fresh
Personalized gourmet

To reinforce their identity, their restaurants have herb gardens and the fresh herbs on the tables. Not just for decoration, but for people to put them onto their dishes as much as they want.

The herbs are not just used as decor but also used as an interaction point with the customer.

Easy way to keeping
plants alive


Benefits of a community garden


Interaction between people and plants



?      ︎     ︎

A user-friendly product that encourages personal connection with plants and facilitates social interaction with other people

Design Process

User Testing


To test out the interaction process, a simple user test was conducted with a mock up model.

A plant station with water drainage and six plant pots. Each plant had a nickname assigned to them.
Six people in the classroom were assigned each six plants for a week. When they saw a orange paper go up on the green board w their plants nickname, they were instructed to water the plant at the station.

Test Result
  • 5 out of 6 testers- majority watered when the orange paper went up.
  • Testers had personal attachment to each plant and called their plants by its names.
  • Testers also water other people’s plants when they saw someone else’s orange paper went up.

  • Assigning a plant to one person is going into two different directions. Pick whether this product is intended for individual or community.
  • Consider the size of the intended office. How would it fit into a bigger or smaller office? Or have multiples through out the space? 
  • Consider the placement of the product within the space. 

Journey in an Office


Final Design

        Thank you!

Mark Interaction Tool: share with co-workers Light to indicate low water level Reuse the drained water in the drawer Moss station to catch water draining out from the pots Visually pleasing to work as office decor

Alice Kim 2022.