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The dark side of houseplants

At Floresy, we love to promote all the benefits of having plants in your interiors, whether that’s residential or commercial, for relaxing or for working. And we love to talk about how plants make us feel happy, relaxed and comfortable.

But, behind their glossy-leaved exteriors, lurks the dark side of houseplants…

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Peace Lily Indoor Plants with big leaves

Sergeant Angel’s favourite plant

The peace lily is an elegant and popular houseplant perfect for any home. They are shade-loving and fantastic air purifiers. So what’s not to like?

Try saying Spathiphyllum when your lips, mouth and tongue are swelling and burning. In fact, ingesting a peace lily can result in difficulty speaking altogether (plus it can cause your typical nausea and diarrhoea).

Peace lilies are not true lilies. But that doesn’t make them any safer: calla lilies can be fatal to children if eaten.

Want a peace lily that won’t make you vomit? Me too. So buying an artificial peace lily from Floresy instead might be our best option to stay on speaking terms.

Dark side of houseplants: Ivy

green ivy wreath 33 cm artificial plant

Artificial green white ivy wreath 33cm.

Ivy is poisonous. And I’m not even talking about poison-ivy. English ivy (or Hedera helix as the Greeks would say), is the climbing and spreading plant that’s so synonymous with English gardens. It’s also a popular evergreen plant used in Christmas decorations and has the ability to remove airborne faecal-matter particles. 

But de-pooping the air you’re breathing is merely its altruistic front. Ivy can cause severe skin irritation and eating this plant (but why would you – it sucks in poo particles!?) would cause stupor and convulsions.

Poison ivy is a completely different species of plant that has a similar leaf shape and isn’t actually as poisonous as non-poisonous ivy.

This artificial ivy wreath by Floresy is non-toxic.

 

Philodendron

split leaf philodendron have fantastic foliage

Splendid waxy green leaves of a split leaf philodendron

Philodendrons, including split leaved varieties like the Monstera Swiss Cheese plants, are one of the most popular houseplants.

But beware!

Philodendrons are mildly toxic to humans. They contain calcium oxalate crystals which can cause a rash plus swelling of the mouth and digestive tract if eaten.

Only mildly toxic, I hear you say? For cats and dogs, philodendrons are considerably more dangerous. Philodendron poisoning can cause spasms and seizures for our four-legged friends. Our pets need to be safe from the dark side of houseplants too.

Play it safe and order an artificial philodendron from Floresy today.

Sansevieria

sansevieria front page

Sansevieria display in a grey container

(Oh no, I hear you cry, not sansevieria too!)

Yes, even the lovingly named Mother-in-Law’s Tongue aka Snake Plant aka Devil’s Tongue has a dark side and that is surprising.

But you’ll be relieved to know that sansevieria is only mildly toxic. Most cases only result in minor irritation to the mouth and increased salivation. 

It’s considered to be a lucky plant that can protect your home from evil influences. Like devils, snakes and mothers-in-law perhaps?

Hydrangea

Artificial hydrangea in a pot white by Floresy

White artificial hydrangea in a pot by Floresy

Hydrangeas are popular acidic-soil loving medium sized shrubs found throughout Asia. Their blooms are large, multi-flower balls of colour scent and are a popular cut-flower for florists looking for that wow-factor. 

But they wouldn’t be on this list without a dark side.

Hydrangeas contain cyanide – one of the deadliest poisons known to humans!

Thankfully, it’s in really low amounts so it’s only dangerous to children or pets (what a relief). Cyanide poisoning causes laboured breathing, lethargy, vomiting, stomach pains and coma. Oh, and death.

Avoid death by buying this white artificial hydrangea from Floresy.

So, in summary, to keep you and your houseplants looking and feeling great avoid eating them. There isn’t a dark side of houseplants of every variety but not eating them is a good rule to live by.

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How a lack of privacy is killing open plan office productivity

Does an office without boundaries create division among workers?

An open-plan office should be a collaborative space, right? A place where workers interact and communicate without hindrance by boundaries such as cubical walls and room dividers. But despite this seemingly obvious statement, the opposite is truer. Open plan office productivity from collaboration is a myth.

A recent study looked at the impact of ‘open’ workspaces on human collaboration. It found that the amount of face-to-face communication dropped by 70% while electronic communication increased by up to 50%.

How was collaboration measured?

Researchers followed two firms during a planned layout change from a cubicle-dominated office to an open plan style. Both firms were Fortune 500 multi-nationals who were about to redesign an office at their head office. The researchers recorded the employee’s behaviours before and after the layout change.

Prior studies looking to measure productivity and collaboration in the workplace have relied upon surveys and activity logging by the workers. This study, by Ethan S. Bernstein and Stephen Turban of Havard University, instead employed a wearable tech device or ‘sociometric badge’.

wearable tech measures open plan office productivity

Sociometric badge measures collaboration in the open-plan office

The badge recorded their face-to-face interactions. The devices worked when they came in close proximity to another badge i.e. when the participants were interacting. The aim of the device was to capture a great deal of data:

  • An infrared sensor captured whom they were facing
  • A microphone captured whether they were talking or listening (without recording what was said for privacy).
  • A movement sensor captured body movement and posture
  • Plus a Bluetooth sensor to record their location within the office

The first study had 52 participants (about 40% of the total workers) and monitored them for 15 working days before the transition. The study used a settling-in period of two months to allow for the changes to become embedded. The monitoring of the participants then continued for another 15 days within their new office environment.

A second study further tested the results from the first study. One hundred employees (roughly 45%) agreed to participate and were monitored using the badges.

This time, monitoring of the participants lasted for eight weeks prior to the redesign and eight weeks after the move. This second study also included the two-month settling-in period.

 

What were the open plan office productivity results?

Both studies saw a fall in face-to-face communication decrease of around 70%. Email and messaging went up by between 20% to 50% and accounts for some of that lost interaction. 

It seems that, when working within an open-plan setting, workers would seek to create their own “privacy” by isolating themselves. For example, people wear large headphones to appear busy. Or they choose to use electronic communication forms instead.

There is a basic human desire for privacy. Evidence supports that acting on that desire can help productivity. In other words, we don’t like feeling observed. This study also touches on how ‘collective intelligence’ works. It’s a new concept but there could be an optimum amount of stimulation that promotes higher levels of this type of ‘hive-mind’ intelligence. And open-place offices may be too stimulating.

The study sums up the findings “In short… open architecture appeared to trigger a natural human response to socially withdraw from officemates…”

How to use plants to create more privacy in your workplace

It seems that the best office layouts include a variety of different working spaces. Here are some ideas to easily adapt an existing workspace for better open plan office productivity:

  • Avoid desks where the worker’s back faces a walkway or corridor. It makes employees feel on-show plus its bad Feng Shui.
  • Read our blog on how to use plants are room dividers.
  • Include comfortable seating areas without any desks that promote conversation.
  • Take advantage of the open-plan design to create collaborative areas away from people’s desks.
  • Create privacy screens from office dividers or plants such as bamboo to help workers feel more enclosed.
  • Make sure any open-plan areas aren’t overfilled with desks. Respect your employee’s sense of personal space.
  • Always include private working stations or pods that allow employees to focus on work undisturbed.

Floresy is always ready to help solve any office layout dilemmas using our years of experience with commercial interiors. 

 

Why do our brains like high ceilings?

High ceilings are a highly desirable architectural feature. But why? And what’s so bad about normal ceiling heights?

We like high ceilings because of their association with grand interiors or properties from certain periods, such as houses from the Georgian era. Walking into a hotel lobby with lofty ceilings will add anticipation of just how luxury your guest experience will be. And a cathedral’s vaulted ceiling will raise your eyes, and thoughts, to heaven.

But likewise, high ceilings can make a room feel cold or empty. The room may lack warmth or make you feel uncomfortable and exposed. A large foyer in an office building can feel intimidating or clinical. Or maybe the room just lacks the appropriate proportions to warrant a high ceiling and therefore feels ‘wrong’.

There have been several studies that have looked at our relationship with ceilings height. One suggests that we find high ceilings more beautiful because we associate them with freedom. Whereas lower ceilings seem to stimulate better decision making perhaps in response to feeling confined and in need of an exit strategy.

This is all because of a concept called ‘priming‘ which activates different thought-processing in the brain. In other words, ceiling height can change how we think.

The upshot of this information is that both high ceilings and ceilings of a normal height can be beneficial to a workplace or retailer, depending on how you want to workers or customers to behave.

Use ceiling height to create different working environments or to influence how we want our customers to behave.

Hotels may want to promote a sense of freedom and escapism for their customers, with high ceilings inspiring the possibilities of their stay. Retailers may also want their customers to feel inspired but would a more typical ceiling height encourage decision making and lead to a purchase better?

An ideal office environment would offer different spaces for when a worker needs to be creative and expansive in their thinking, perhaps problem-solving with colleagues. But when that report’s deadline is looming, getting your head down in a lower-ceiling environment could help improve focus.

How to make your ceiling look higher

  • Draw the eye to the highest point by hanging curtains/blinds at the top of the wall, not just the top of the window.
  • Choose furniture with a low profile. Avoid high back sofas and chairs. Low-profile will create a greater expanse of space between the top of the furniture and the ceiling. Conversely, you can include high profile pieces such as a tall shelving unit. This contrast of height with your low profile seating will also create a similar sense of expansive space.
  • Paint your ceiling the same colour as the walls. Lighter colours work better but so do gloss paints as they will reflect the light making the ceiling feel higher.
  • Avoid clutter and overfilling a room as this detracts from the sense of space.

How to make your ceiling look lower

  • Use darker colours on the ceiling. If you combine this with a picture rail at you desired ceiling height, paint the walls the same colour as the ceiling down to this rail.
  • Hang suspended lighting at lower heights to bring the focus down from the ceiling height. You can use this same trick with hanging/trailing plants.
  • Bigger furniture will fill a room with a high ceiling and give a better sense of scale.

Plants are a great way to emphasise an area that you want to draw focus to. You can use tall plants to raise the eye-line or to create contrast with low-profile furniture. Wall-mounted displays can also define the height of a room and hanging plants can be used to create a floating ceiling at whatever height you wish. Floor-standing pots with bushy foliage are a great way to keep the focus lower.

Floresy offers exciting solutions to your interior needs. Get in touch today.

 

 

5 myths about artificial plants – busted!

We bust 5 common myths about artificial plants. Think artificial plants are fake and tacky? Think again…

Artificial plants look fake

There was a time when fake plants did look fake, it’s true. But that was when they were only found next to a bowl of stale potpourri in the ladies toilets of some shady 1970’s pub. The materials used in modern artificial flowers are far more sophisticated. Most leaves and petals are created using a polyester blend but silk is also used. Polyester fibres can be woven to create soft, textured surfaces that can even fool the touch-test.

Have you seen a Gerbera? The first time I saw a cut flower Gerbera, I thought it was fake. It wasn’t. I couldn’t believe it was real. But these days, I can’t believe artificial plants are fake.

Artificial plants are bad feng shui

The ancient Chinese discipline of interior design centres around the flow of energy through buildings. It’s about achieving a balance of masculine and feminine aspects but also elements such as air and water. You can go as mystical as you like with it but Feng Shui has many underlying principles that just make good design sense.

Because of it’s connection to the natural world, you might think that Feng Shui would reject artificial plants because, well, they’re fake. But many designers actually argue to the contrary. A dead, real plant is seriously bad feng shui. That dried up specimen is going to suck the chi right out of your room.

So if you’re a serial plant killer or if you have an area where maintenance of a real plant would be an issue, artificial plants make great feng shui sense.

Artificial plants are tacky

Maybe the ultimate “tacky” artificial plants are, in fact, the well-loved artificial Christmas tree. Year on year, we get these artificial plants out from storage and display them proudly in our homes and businesses. Why do we love them? Well, they don’t drop their needles, they don’t pose an allergy hazard and no real trees are sacrificed instead.

But an artificial plant that stands like a sentinel in an office or hotel lobby isn’t tacky: it’s stoic. The screen of bamboo that gives privacy to a seating area isn’t tacky: it’s reassuring. And a cheerful hyacinth that greets you as approach a reception desk isn’t tacky: it’s welcoming.

Artificial plants are not as good as real plants

This depends on why you are using plants. If you want to purify the air in your office, artificial plants aren’t as good as real ones (duh). But if you want to add lots of greenery for the mental wellbeing of your staff or visitors without the maintenance overhead, artificial plants aren’t just as good, they are better than real plants.

The best solution is usually a combination of both. Use the artificial where maintenance may be awkward, where the light levels are too low or where the central heating is too high. And add as many real plants as your maintenance plan will allow.

Artificial plants are expensive

One of the odd myths about artificial plants is that they are expensive. As with anything you can spend as much or as little on a product. And you usually get what you pay for. The main difference between buying an artificial plant and a real one is longevity. The artificial plant will remain the same size and in the same, prime condition. In other words, after you got what you paid for, you’ll get it to keep it for longer than a real plant.

If you’re a business looking for a plant maintenance package, consider reading this post on the comparative costs or renting and buying plants first.

Artificial plants represent an investment in your interiors whether you spend £5 or £500.

Most myths about artificial plants are really about personal preference. At Floresy, we know we produce the best range of high-quality artificial plants and trees on the market. Our products are firmly rooted in reality so we’re confident that they will bust any myth thrown at them.