Feature: The Plant Room

At Craft, we think it’s important to know the creatives around us - who in Leeds is doing great work? Who’s doing something new, and fresh? So we had a chat with design studio The Archipelago about The Plant Room - a series of pop-up collaborative projects and exhibitions that they curate in sunny Yorkshire.

Firstly, tell us about yourself?

We are The Archipelago, an independent design studio in Leeds founded by Michael Lewis and Zosia Berkieta-Lewis in 2011. We set up the studio in 2011 with a desire to work collaboratively with other creatives alongside our client work. With both of us having backgrounds in the arts we were drawn towards clients in the creative and cultural sectors working on branding, exhibition and print projects for galleries, museums, arts festivals, architects and a host of independent creatives.

What inspired you to start The Plant Room?

The inspiration for The Plant Room came from a research article we discovered about the positive benefits of introducing plants into minimalist workspaces, finding that adding plants improved both wellbeing and creativity. This article led to the idea of a plant themed exhibition, hosted in a working space. We used our design studio and curated an exhibition celebrating illustration, ceramics and furniture, all with plants in mind.

Starting with a basic understanding and pile of books for reference our passions grew. Our first house had a tiny front garden that gave us a space to spend time, grow and learn about plants. When it comes to houseplants, Zosia is the one with the vast knowledge and she spends a great deal of time sourcing and selecting the plants for our projects and for pairing with our ceramics at the Mini Market.

Describe your creative process when The Plant Room puts on a new exhibition or workshop.

It’s important to us that all studio projects have a high degree of integrity and sometimes allowing yourself the time for ideas and discussions to take place and develop is integral to this. When Zosia came up with the idea for The Plant Room we thought it might be another project destined to be side-lined but, after discussing it with a few people, slowly it gathered momentum. We took our time and wanted to make sure everything was thought through. It took 18 months from those early discussions to the first exhibition.

Working collectively with other creatives also enhances the projects we do. As you exchange ideas and thoughts, the projects evolve and grow organically sometimes far removed from the initial idea but better for it.

How does the work you do with The Plant Room influence your day-to-day work at The Archipelago?

Our studio projects give a balance to the day-to-day studio design work. They allow us a sense of creative freedom that is sometimes tethered to a client or particular project. This freedom then in turn enables us to perhaps think differently, stretch creative boundaries and expectations.

What’s next for the Plant Room?

There are numerous projects coming up - Our Garden Sessions workshops are continuing into 2017, we’re expanding our Mini Market at Tall Boys Beer Market and we have an exciting ceramics collaboration to reveal very shortly.

We have also been commissioned to design an indoor plant element for another great Leeds Independent venue that will launch early in 2017. Finally ever since the beginning, we have wanted to do more exhibitions and so The Plant Room Edition 2 is being planned and developed as we speak. 

If you had to pick one plant for us to have in our space here at The Tetley, what would it be and why?

Just one plant! We would like to suggest you fill your space with as many plants as possible. Start big maybe with a Monstera and just keep going.

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The Plant Room has some exciting events coming up - keep an eye out on our creative and digital events page for updates!

*Photography by Giles Smith

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