Riikka Kantinkoski and Pinja Rouger designed The Botanic Shelf to meet their own needs. They view this as the reason for the straightforward design process: the commissioner of the project is always present when you design for yourself.
THE BOTANIC SHELF, whose shelves can be freely placed and adjusted, is intended for internal decor based on houseplants. Designed jointly in 2016 by photographer Riikka Kantinkoski and designer Pinja Rouger, The Botanic Shelf was added in the same year to Adea's collection. The brand has the shelves made by hand in Ostobothnia, Finland.
The key concept behind the shelving system, which comes in three sizes and color options, is adaptability: the shelf can display decor objects and books as well as, say, monstera houseplants.
What's the story behind The Botanic Shelf?
Riikka Kantinkoski: “When we had the initial idea for The Botanic Shelf, houseplants had become very trendy and I noticed a gap on the market for houseplant displays that would look good in settings other than balconies. There were no beautiful settings for plants in living rooms, for example. So the idea for the product arose from my own need.”
Pinja Rouger: “Riikka called me to ask if I would help her turn the idea into a furniture item. We knew each other from our blogs and live relatively close to one another. We worked together smoothly and our visions cohered from the beginning, despite the fact that we could draw and develop our ideas separately.”
The shelf we designed serves a wide range of purposes.
Riikka: “In general, it's difficult to fit plants onto ordinary shelves, while providing them with the support and light they need. The wooden structures of our adjustable shelves provide room and support even for the tallest plants.
Our basic idea was to design a timeless piece of furniture suitable for more than just houseplants. The shelf's dimensions are based on practical needs: even the largest coffee table books can be stood up on the shelves.”
“The Botanic Shelf can also act as a central room divider, with the plants receiving light from several directions.”
Pinja: “The shelf can also act as a central room divider, with the plants receiving light from several directions. In addition to houseplants, books and other objects can be set on the shelves. Brass was chosen as one of the materials due to its timeless character.
We feel that the brass surfaces should be allowed to patinate and turn green over time. The marks left by time look beautiful, as if left there by design.”
How did The Botanic Shelf wind up in Adea's collection?
Pinja: “We made a prototype of the shelf once the design was ready. We began marketing the shelf through our own social media channels, which led to lots of enquiries and praise of the product.
During the fall of the same year, we exhibited the shelf from our own stand at the Habitare trade fair in Helsinki, where we finally found a manufacturer.”
“For us, it was important to collaborate with a domestic company and ensure that production was located in Finland.”
Riikka: “For us, it was important to collaborate with a domestic company and ensure that production was located in Finland. That is why the partnership with Adea felt so right. Reaching the production stage was a surprisingly fast process because the product was almost ready, lacking just a few finishing touches.
We thought long and hard about the precise tones of the wooden parts. Adea preferred The Botanic Shelf in brown, which had been a popular color, particularly in Sweden.”
You designed a beautiful and functional interior decor setting for houseplants. What role do plants play in your lives?
Riikka: “I have always had houseplants at home. It would feel somewhat empty without these sources of positive energy. Recently, I've also been bringing houseplants to work from home. I have occasional, long discussions with my colleagues about how well the office plants are doing: we go through their care plans one at a time. My favorites are large, dark green plants with leathery leaves.”
Pinja: “Plants are a living part of interior decor, which add a touch of genuine cosiness to a home. During our couple of years in America, I had no doubt about sharing our apartment with green friends, despite being there temporarily. We have a large yard at home, in which I love to potter around with plants, gradually learning more about them. Last week, I bought a magnolia sapling and I can't wait to plant it outside.”
Text: Hanna-Katariina Mononen Images: Adea