The Language of Plants is a collaboration between design agency ATYPICAL and houseplant shop Growtropicals, exclusively for Chelsea Flower Show 2023. This exhibition showcases a new typeface that incorporates the varied organic forms of leaves and stems, creating a unique design language that celebrates the beauty and complexity of plants.
Creating conversational design pieces
Isabel Lea is a Creative Director, Designer and Researcher based in London. She co-founded creative agency ATYPICAL with Jacob James and leads international creative and design projects with their team. Alongside this she is Design Researcher in Residence at The Design Museum, and in 2019 was Adobe’s first Creative Resident for the UK and a Google Rare Leadership Fellow.
After graduating with a degree in design, Isabel co-founded multidisciplinary agency ATYPICAL and has now lived and worked in Copenhagen, New York and London on major international projects for companies such as Adobe, Panasonic and Bang and Olufsen.
Over time, she became more fascinated with the social side of design and returned to LSE to earn an MSc in Sociocultural Studies, focusing on design, the social and language. She now undertakes residencies and design research projects alongside her corporate work on these themes. Her current project at The Design Museum focuses on visualizing untranslatable climate knowledge from Celtic languages and her previous research at Adobe focused on the intersection of language and design. With all her work, including this new project The Language of Plants at Chelsea Flower Show she aims to create conversational design pieces in unexpected places for public engagement.
A passion, turned business
Jacob James is co-founder at ATYPICAL and founder at Growtropicals. Creatively, his experience spans a career working as a professional travel photographer before making the move to directing and producing narrative and commercials. With ATYPICAL he handles the production of creative projects and leads film and photography work.
During the pandemic, he became increasingly interested in the world of plants, a passion which quickly became a business. Since then, he has founded Growtropicals and evolved it into one of the UK’s premier houseplant specialists. He has produced a display for Chelsea Flower Show previously, but this is his first collaborative houseplant studio.
The Language of PlantsRHS Gold Medal Winner
The Language of Plants is a beautiful example of how design and nature can work together in a visual design project, but also how the concept can extend to how the designed garden studio structure connects to its natural surroundings.
Existing not as a room but a stand-alone art space, the Houseplant Studio has been carefully crafted to create a sense of flow between the interior and exterior through strategic planting and typographic design cues. As an immersive art space, it acts as an oasis of creativity hidden within the wider Chelsea Flower Show which invites the viewer in and then unfolds through bold minimal design. The use of glass walls and strategically placed plants allows for glimpses of what lies within the space, inviting visitors into its depths.
Nature has a profound impact on design, and design on nature. Many of the words we use to describe typography have their roots in the natural world. The ‘stem’ of a letter or the ‘branch’ of a shape are just a few examples of how nature has influenced the language of design. Through this collaboration, we have discovered new ways to approach the type design process, and explored how the intersection between design and nature can give rise to new forms of beauty.
“By showcasing the typeface nestled amongst the plants which inspired it, we bring the result and the inspiration, the design and the natural, together in harmony. Through this immersive exhibition of intertwined language, design and botany, we hope to inspire visitors to see the world in a new light and appreciate the beauty and complexity of nature and how this can inspire design in unexpected ways.”
RHS Chelsea Flower Show
23 – 27 May 2023
Meet the Designers
We know what a positive impact well designed spaces can have on quality of life, and we’re thrilled to be collaborating with designers who understand the extraordinary benefits of houseplants.