I often get asked “What’s one easy thing people can do to freshen up their homes”? I have to say that simply bringing plants into your space will add both literal and figurative “life” to it. Whether it’s a potted plant, or just some fresh cut flowers from your garden or the grocery store, plants just “finish” a room… (not to mention all the air cleaning and health benefits they can provide!)
Lately, house plants have been making a big comeback in the world of design. I am by no means a plant expert (believe me, I’ve killed my fair share!) but I just can’t see my home without them. For those of us that live in more metropolitan areas, having plants brings a connection to nature inside, allowing us to create our own “urban jungle.” Coincidentally, that’s also the title of a brand new book “Urban Jungle – Living and Styling with Plants“
You may recognize the authors, Happy Mundane friends and fellow bloggers Igor Josifovic (Happy Interior Blog) and Judith De Graaff (Joelix). They founded the group Urban Jungle Bloggers, which has grown into a robust global online community dedicated to educating, decorating and styling with plants. I had a quick little chat with these lovely two about their book:
What prompted you to start Urban Jungle Bloggers?
Igor: Our mutual love for houseplants and the positive vibe coming from other bloggers – it felt like a good topic and moment to start the Urban Jungle Bloggers community.
Judith: We started Urban Jungle Bloggers in September 2013 when we realized we both really loved our houseplants and thought it was time to do something with it and create a blog series. The response from other bloggers and readers was immediate and it grew steadily into the plant community it is today.
At what point did you decide that a book would be the next step?
Igor: After three years we had so much material, so many ideas, so many questions from the community that we knew it’s time to consolidate all the input and answer those questions in a book. We also felt the book market was missing a book that combines plant know-how with interior styling in an easy-going, unpretentious way. So there was the idea for the Urban Jungle book!
Judith: We also liked the idea of having an offline source of knowledge and inspiration, as caring for plants is very offline too and we both also really love beautifully designed books. We knew working on a book would also be a fabulous opportunity to work with talented people from our community, like fellow bloggers, illustrators, designers and photographers.
What was the main goal that you wanted to achieve with the book?
Igor: To encourage people to invite more plants into their homes and lives. We also wanted to combine both inspiration and handy know-how in one book that is both beautiful to look at and informative to read.
Judith: We also wanted to show how easy it can be to live with plants; it’s not something to be afraid of. We believe green or black thumbs don’t really exist, it’s all about choosing the right plants for your home and lifestyle. And about taking time to get to know your plants, doing a little bit of research and learning from its development.
Were there anything that surprised you while you were making the book? any funny stories?
Igor: Well the most valuable learning is that team work makes everything easier and more enjoyable. Writing the book with Judith and working with the talented photographer Lina Skukauske really helped everything come together nicely in a pretty tight time schedule. The funny part is that as an author you can relax as the photographer will suffer the most – Lina had to sit in bushes, climb on kitchen shelves, and make some acrobatic positions to shoot some pictures!
Judith: Teamwork was definitely the highlight of the book making process. At one point, Igor was in Istanbul, Turkey, working on the styling of the cover shot with one of the home owners, while our photographer Lina was shooting the photos. Igor would then send me a quick iPhone shot of the camera’s viewfinder, I would place that into the cover layout (in my office near Paris), to see if the hanging plant pot was not hiding the title. Igor would move it a little bit to the right and they finalised the shot. In the end I digitally replaced one tall phallus looking cactus by some lush leaves to avoid any hints of ambiguity. That was fun! Another surprise was the amazing support we received from the community. We already knew Urban Jungle Bloggers is a positive group of plant lovers, but the thoughtful messages of encouragement and support throughout the process were truly heartwarming.
What’s one key thing you would like people to take away from after reading the book?
Igor: Plants are good for you and your home. Plants are easy to look after and nobody should be afraid of living with plants.
What’s next for you guys?
Igor: We are looking into new projects and ways to keep the community growing and thriving in 2017. We want to share more valuable and helpful plant related information, create more quality contenct on the blog and look into new ways of publishing. 2017 will be interesting, that’s for sure!
Judith: Lots of new interesting ideas are in the pipeline for 2017. The main focus is to keep it fun for everyone and explore new ways of publishing, including a few things we have never tried before. There will be much more Living and styling with plants in the new year!
The Urban Jungle book is packed with information and tips, and showcases the homes of several inspiring people and how they live with plants. It also has a ton of easy DIY ideas as well as plant care tips. It’s a must have reference for any home decor enthusiast, and makes an excellent gift! It’s available online and in bookstores globally.
Photos by Lina Skukauské courtesy of Callwey publishing, with additional photos by Jonathan Lo / j3productions for Happy Mundane.