Studio Visit: Inspired Thinker and Maker Huy Bui of Plant-In City Reimagines How Plants and Humans Co-Exist

Plant-In City - Lights On

Last December at Design Miami/ we met a fellow creative mind and inspired thinker, Huy Bui of Plant-In City - a New York City based collaborative exploring the relationship between architecture and plants through modular, handcrafted terrariums. Our Creative Director Tori (who makes bio art and living sculptures outside of her work with Visual Magnetics) got pretty excited about meeting the founder of her favorite plant projects and got to chatting with Huy. 

Stacked Plant-In City air terrariums featuring copper wire, reclaimed NY-state wood, airplants and Jawbone jam-in.

Stacked Plant-In City air terrariums featuring copper wire, reclaimed NY-state wood, airplants and Jawbone jam-in.

Huy was kind enough to invite us to his showroom and studio spaces earlier this year. We were also lucky enough to grab dinner with him in April at Northern Spy Food Co. in the East Village, and he gave us the low-down on something exciting he is planning for NYCxDESIGN. On both occasions we found ourselves encouraged and inspired by Huy's warmth and his willingness to share.

Huy near his studio and showroom space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

Huy near his studio and showroom space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 

We learned that Huy left a successful career in finance to become a maker and designer. When we asked him what inspired the change he replied without hesitation, "One day, I looked down at my hands and I realized I should be using them to make things." From there, Huy embarked on a design journey that has seen his terrariums, which range from large-scale, suspended  installations to stacking apartment sized pieces, featured in shows like WantedDesign, the Sight Unseen Offsite and the Toronto Design Offsite Festival. His works are now known  for their architecturally inspired exploration of micro-ecosystems. 

Huy's vertical landscapes explore the balance between ecology and the built environment. To me, his works are all-about bringing plant life back into the cityscape, where we often forget that plants are a grounding and essential aspect to growth, inspiration and healing. And, while the structural parts of his terrariums recall architectural details of the cities and buildings they inhabit, Huy also places an intense focus on the geographies within the terrariums. Wires suspend plants in the air, small details like LEDs, sand, pebbles, crystals such as quartz and pyrite, mosses, micro-water falls, mists and more work to sustain the plant-life within the terrariums, and bring a special craft and caring to his designs. In fact, Huy's studio space was also home to a terrarium outfitted with special colored LED lights that worked as a plant hospital, aiding small plants in their recovery using UV light.

If you are in New York for NYCxDESIGN, you can find Plant-In City's work at the Sight Unseen Offsite and at WantedDesign's Brooklyn event, where Huy will be featuring a large installation. Follow Plant-In City on Instagram @plantincity and visit their website to learn more. 

- NM (@naomielise