With nature at an increasing distance, considering new ways to appreciate plants within our reach can keep us tethered to nature and sustain our well-being. Houseplants have served many purposes throughout history, representing varied societal circumstances, including the “botanical boom” we are currently experiencing. This thesis explores a variety of research and design methods to uncover the unique relationship between people and their houseplants, and investigates the potential to use this relationship for a closer connection to plant-life. To understand this relationship, an online survey was distributed to houseplant owners through relevant social media communities. Participants were recruited for video interviews and a small group took part in an individual week-long journaling activity about their direct and indirect houseplant interactions.
Results from this research uncovered how the human-houseplant relationship reflects our capacity to intimately connect with nature. The variety of interactions houseplant owners have with their plants ranged beyond basic care to include talking to their plants, naming them, and seeing them as a means of emotional support.
These insights were used to explore how we might amplify this human-houseplant connection through a design project aimed at providing houseplant owners a new perspective on plant vitality. The outcome is a device that measures and maps the variance of conductivity within a plant over the course of approximately twelve hours, representing an aspect of the liveliness of plants that is beyond human perception.