From their medicinal, culinary and aesthetic qualities, to their amazing air-purifying abilities, plants are amazing organisms that play a huge role in life on this planet. But beyond the general breathing in of oxygen produced by plants, or the ingestion of them, might we possibly tweak this symbiotic relationship further? Eindhoven Design Academy graduate Sarah Daher believes so. Her conceptual Air Culture project harvests the "enriched" air produced by certain plants by offering a controlled environment that optimizes plant growth and its production of certain therapeutic compounds.
Over on Dezeen, Daher explains that the interdisciplinary project "question[s] the value of air, [proposing] a more amplified vision of plants in a future scenario where their volatile emissions become part of our daily lives." The idea is provide the user with tools such as a glass plant chamber, water pump and air pump, allowing them to manage the various conditions of plant cultivation, thus optimizing the plants' release of certain chemicals. These beneficial molecules are then captured with bags or "air cutlery" to be breathed in.
In her experiment, Daher used rosemary as a test plant, due to scientific evidence that suggests its compounds increase mental concentration. She explains:
While researching those compounds I found out that most of them have high pharmaceutical value due to their chemical properties and an impact on our health. We usually harvest the plants to extract those compounds. Plants will start to synthesize those compounds under specific circumstances as a response to environmental stimuli. If the environment changes, plants' chemistry will also change.
Daher sees a future where this "enriched" air will be experienced and consumed like food and drink, and believes that it could be scaled up to encompass the interiors of whole buildings, where occupants could breathe in fresh, fortified air. Air Culture reminds me of a safer, green version of mood-altering wearable tech gadgets, minus the potential privacy issues. In any case, the underlying concept makes sense, as we've been using plants medicinally for thousands of years, and it's tantalizing to think we might scale it up for whole buildings or perhaps whole neighbourhoods or "vegetal" cities. More over at Dezeen.