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Introduction into Human Plant Interfaces

Plant Colour Patterns

Humanity currently finds itself  in a complicated time facing many social challenges and environmental changes. On one hand, we have to deal with limited natural resources and on the other hand we see environmental effects caused by human actions. The relationship between us and our environment has become unbalanced and has influenced all levels of our society [UnitedNations1987, Lovelock1979, Lovelock2006]. This includes our everyday life as well as global politics [Haapoja2010 and LaaschConaway2013, pages 20]. Especially urban landscapes and environments mirror such developments, e.g. the competition about limited resources of habitats. As a result gentrification is an emerging phenomena in an urban communities.

People seemed to be more scared about the financial consequences that arise due to the environmental crisis and the climate change than about the impact on the environment itself. The dream of green products came up and nowadays many people are driven to overcome the financial fear and secure their social position in society by developing green products [Haapoja2010].

The creative process of creating green products requires a new awareness of the environment and the nature. The term nature is mostly associated with interactions of living organisms within an environment. According to Terike Haapoja, art has the ability to reveal the awareness issue of our current human-nature relationship crisis and art also can initiate the appropriate questions [Haapoja2010]. Peter Halley (1983) described a similar human-nature relationship crisis during the post-war era in his essay “Nature and Culture”.  He annotated some of the art movements between the end of 1950s and the end of the 1970s as nature oriented movements. The artists worked heavily on unification of the human kind with some lost, or undiscovered absolutes, related to nature [Kastner2012, pp. 98-103]. They developed various artistic expressions in different art domains, e.g. the artistic approaches of Land Art or the color field painting technique in Abstract Expressionism.

In comparison to the post-war era, we live today in a knowledge-based society. Most of our decisions are based on information produced by scientific methods. As previously mentioned, art gives the opportunity to experience and visualize our current problems in a very obvious manner. In contrast, science holds the power to describe and interpret the relationship between humans and their environment. The available tools for scientist are new measuring techniques and the growing computational technology [Haapoja2010].

The combination of art and science therefore provides an appropriate box for reconnecting humans with nature and our environments. Moreover, the tools enables us to explore and understand the interactions between humans and nature in a playful and educational context

This thesis is focused on the interactions between humans, plants and their environment. An important point of the investigation is based on the strong human dependence on plants. They provide us with food, medicine, construction material and have many other functions [Flagler1994]. Hence plants are a crucial resource for the future of the human kind. Unfortunately, urban environments and the technology driven society loses more and more its relationship to these kinds of living organisms. The recent developments in Human Plant Interfaces are able to bring plants back in our daily life to restore our relationship with them.

This thesis systematical explores artistic Human Plant Interfaces and their social design approaches. Additionally eco-friendly and sustainable attributes of these Human Plant interfaces will be explained from a technical point of view. The artistic analysis reveals the impacts of these interfaces on the human mental health, the relationships between people and their environment [Shoemaker2002]. The research results are presented in a theoretical part and a practical part, which observes Human Plant Interfaces from a botanical point of view as well from an interaction design position.

The following chapter 1.1 and chapter 1.2 introduces to the definition of Human Plant Interfaces and point out the benefits that these new interfaces hold. Chapter 1.3 presents the applied methods and structure of this thesis.


[Lovelock1979] Lovelock, James (1979). Gaia: A new look at life on earth. Oxford University Press, 1979.

[Lovelock2006] Lovelock, James (2006). The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back and How We Can Still Save Humanity. Penguin Books, 2007.

[UnitedNations1987] United Nations (1987). Our common future. United Nations, World Commission on the Environment and Development. New York: United Nations.

[Haapoja2010] Haapoja, Terike (2010). Issue: LAND Environmental Crises, Science and Art. Estep, Jan (Ed.). Minnesota Shapco Printing, 2010.

[LaaschConaway2013] Laasch, O., & Conaway, R. (2013). Responsible business: A textbook for theory, practice, and change. Monterrey: Editorial Digital ITESM.

[Kastner2012] Kastner, Jeffrey (2012). Nature - Documents of Contemporary Art. MIT Press, 2012.

[Flagler1994] Flagler, J. & Poincelot, R., (1994). People-plant relationships: setting research priorities. Food Products Press, 1994.

[Shoemaker2002] Shoemaker, C. A. (2002). Interaction by Design: Bringing People and Plants Together for Health and Well Being. John Wiley & Sons, 2002.

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  1. admin
    September 26th, 2014 at 09:57 | #1

    The researches and publications by Saskia Sassen in relation to urban planning, urban development, globalization etc. are also very valuable resources to conduct my research in a better described urban context.

  2. admin
    October 5th, 2014 at 00:29 | #2

    In context of sustainability and bio diversity the WWF published again their “Der Living Planet Report” (2012) with some terrifying statistics about our ecology.

  3. March 1st, 2015 at 12:29 | #3

    The problem with our environment and food chain are the key topics of the report “Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before It’s Too Late by the United Nations. One recommendation of this report stated that only small-scale Organic Farming is able to provide a sutainable food chain.

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