Asif Khan MINI Living Forests – London Design Week

As part of London Design Week Asif Khan created 3 beautifully serene pavilions filled with plants and vegetation in the heart of the busy city. As many of you know, living in the city isn’t always glamour and glitz, and sometimes can feel like the walls are shrinking in around you. With numerous new builds and high rises cropping up in every empty spot available, our surroundings are becoming ever more impersonal and unapproachable than ever before. That’s what Khan’s installations aim to irradiate. Based on the Japanese notion of shinri-yoku, meaning forest bathing, the enclosures create alternative spaces to the traditional public and private, and strive to form a place where people are free to come and relax and contemplate, but also can act as meeting points and social hubs as well as places to work.

Each of the three spaces were filled with specifically selected plants, that the public were encouraged to take with them with them or exchange them with other plants that they had brought along with them.

Each of the three Pavilions had its oh unique identity honed functionality

  • 1. Relax. A space that fostered a more interactive relationship with the public. The Pavilion was on stilts and so the viewer had to duck below and climb up inside the floating room from underneath. Something liberating about having to duck and contort yourself on the street in the middle of a city, an exposure that was completely contradicted when you were once inside the space, where you felt cocooned and completely removed from the passing public and traffic on the street outside.
  • 2. Connect. The second was more of a traditional green house shape, long and rectangular with a clear line of vision from one end to the other, meaning a great mismatch of the urban surrounding and the plant life on the interior when you looked from one end. It had seating each side, which mimicked how people sit on the tube, but instead of people looking at their feet and avoiding each other, the space encouraged conversation and sociability.
  • 3. Create. The third space was situation in a park, surrounded by more ‘nature’ than the other two spaces, and so had less spontaneity about it. None-the-less, the space still harboured an air of tranquility, and as we discovered, an ease to talk to whoever was in the space with you, acting like an urban ice breaker for the usually silent city wanderer. This space was also kitted out with power sockets and tiered seating and dotted with sketchbooks that had been doodled in by the public – the perfect space to go and get some work done outside of the office.

We thought these spaces were a great interruption in the daily hustle and bustle of city life, giving us all that very much needed respite and a little bit of tranquility in our busy day. They also illustrate the vibrant theme of nature that is pulsing through the design world at the moment. One way we’ve been inspired by Khan’s design is to use a more natural colour scheme, specifically colours from Dulux’s Colour Futures New Romanticism Collection. You could also to bring a little bit of the Living Forest’s into your own interior design through the use of house plants, another trend that embodies the surge and popularity of nature in our homes at the moment!

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