Given Bianca Bodley and Lindsay Mitchell’s passion for connecting people to nature through their landscape design/build business, Biophilia Design Collective (watch Bodley’s TEDx talk here), it comes as no surprise that the creative duo have opened an artful urban nursery in the Fort Common District. A carefully curated selection of indoor and outdoor plants, home decor, fire vessels, garden tools, local art, ceramics and fibre plant accessories, Biophilia now offers interior designers, landscape designers and homeowners a place to shop. “We’ve nurtured so many relationships with plant and product wholesalers for our commercial and residential landscape installations, that it seemed like a natural transition to have a place where they could all be curated and sold to the public,” says Bodley. Modern Home spoke to the design savvy couple about their vision for the shop and the unique services Biophilia offers.
Tell us about your decision to move your Biophilia office downtown to Fort Common and to merge it with an urban nursery. We began as a landscape design/build business specializing in living walls and green roofs. Over the years we have designed and built many custom planters, water features and other landscape and home furnishings for our clients. We saw a need for a place that our clients and fellow designers could come to envision the greening of their inside or outside space in person. We sell a large variety of locally made planters and landscape fire vessels as well as smaller ceramic and woven textile indoor plant accessories. We have a large selection of indoor tropicals as well as succulents, perennials/herbs and annuals outside in the Fort Commons. We are also working on several living wall prototypes to view.
Did you pursue this specific Fort Common location? How did it come to be the right space for Biophilia? We have been looking for the right location for a few years now and we knew we wanted it to have a strong sense of community, vibrancy, lots of natural light as well as inside and outside space. Fort Commons was the perfect fit for us as it is in a vibrant part of downtown close to many established and new condominiums whose owners are looking to add life to their living spaces. The courtyard space in the Commons is perfect for our outdoor plants and is an ideal pairing with all the delicious food and the atmosphere of life and growth.
You’ve had a brand refresh to represent your growth. Can you speak to this change and what it represents? This year marked the birth of our daughter as well as the conception of this new branch of our business, so we felt like a refresh of our logo and a new colour (yellow) to represent our store front was appropriate. The concept reflects our latest interconnected arm to our design services and feels representative of the renewed energy that we are feeling with this next chapter.
What is your vision for the shop? We see it as a meeting place where we can collaborate with homeowners, builders and designers to bring life into spaces in a fresh and creative way. We love plants and good design and we believe that the more greenery people have in their lives, the happier they will be. We are here to dream with our clients and to add life to their space.
Why is Biophilia needed in this specific location? What niche are you fulfilling? We believe there is a significant need for an urban nursery and one that is accessible to all. Victoria is supportive of businesses that are committed to supporting local artisans and those that create their own unique product; it brings an authentic and unique aspect to the garden centre experience.
Can you speak to the unique design of the shop? We wanted the store to feel peaceful, welcoming, inspiring, and teeming with life. The colour palette is fresh and neutral. We love natural materials and think they are the best backdrop to the greenery of plants so in our store you will find the merging of concrete, metals, raw wood, as well as neutrally toned ceramics, woven baskets, cotton macrame and of course the occasional splash of colour. We also feature local artists’ paintings and sketches as a perfect complement to the artistry of plant curation. And at all times it will be packed full of plants.
What can people expect to find at Biophilia and what unique services do you offer? We carry indoor tropical plants and trees, indoor and outdoor planters and a wide variety of hanging and stationary plant display accessories, air plants, succulents and cacti, outdoor plants: perennials, herbs and annuals, locally made metal and concrete fire bowls and tables, local art and ceramics and soon we will offering locally sourced seasonal floral bouquets.
One unique service we offer is our potting station which is especially appealing to those living in condos and apartments. We can either pot any plant or planter we sell or our clients can make their own terrarium or pot they purchase. Clients only purchase the quantity of bulk material they need which saves the mess and waste of packaging. We encourage people to get their hands dirty and learn with us! We also offer workshops where people can learn about the topics we are passionate about including house plant care, making terrariums, creating floral bouquets, water harvesting and designing a drought tolerant landscape, creating healthier indoor environments with plant life and food production.
The shop has been open for over two months. What has been the response so far? And what do you foresee in the future for Biophilia? We have felt very welcomed into our vibrant downtown community of businesses and our clients have been very encouraging. We want to maintain our small business ethos in order to continue to focus on each design or shop client with one-on-one attention. We are passionate about what we do and we want to stay dynamic and engaged with our community. Maintaining a small company size gives us the ability to be nimble and responsive to the needs of our clients and allows us to explore and play with new ideas and directions.
As for the future, we would like to continue to grow into a company that people in the building industry, as well as homeowners, see as experts that are always learning about new products and practices to build healthier and more sustainable landscapes and living environments. We would like to be seen as willing collaborators in a city that is so rich in innovation. We are curious and authentic folk and we hope to attract like minds to grow with us.