When you think of floral arrangements of exotic blooms and off the wall materials in Singapore, there’s one name that immediately comes to mind— This Humid House.
Exploring a mix of design disciplines — fine art, architecture, floristry, horticulture and landscape design — the botanical design studio creates experimental works of art exploring flora and off-the-wall materials as their medium of expression.
As all great art does, This Humid House’s one-of-a-kind arrangements are thought-provoking artworks that create lasting impressions and inspire emotional connections with the viewer.
Floral sculptural arrangement conceived for the LAB2.1 BaCO3 display
In this edition of In Conversation, we speak to the botanical design studio’s Creative Director, John Lim, and Senior Designer, Carol Melbye, on This Humid House’s inventive process, latest venture in Paris, and more.
This Humid House's botanical sculptures blend the untamed beauty of nature with artistic disciplines.
Congrats on your new design studio in Paris! Tell us, how does that feel?
John Lim (JL): Surreal! We are in what we call a period of creative incubation, getting a sense of the cultural vibes and an understanding of the materials that might be available to us there. THH Paris will be operational early 2022.
Describe This Humid House's style.
JL: We are invested in developing a language expressed through plants and flowers that is sensitive to climate, geography, culture and the contemporary. We ask ourselves: how do we put together living material in a way that feels fresh (and relevant) today? We also straddle the timeless; finessing shape, volume, colour, line and texture to draw ourselves – and you – into an emotional connection.
What defines architectural naturescapes? How do space, lighting and botanical design come together to transform a space?
JL: The same things that define architecture! Form, space, void, line, colour, texture… and all of this would be for nothing if not for light. In our work, designing intentionally with lighting makes all the difference.
Botanical arrangements go beyond just blooms — the exquisite beauty of plant foliage is allowed to shine through This Humid House's work.
As botanical designers, what are some of the elements you consider when designing a sculpture or installation for a space?
JL: There is an emotional component to the work we do and lighting—colour temperature, specifically, helps in setting the right tone.
With the festive season coming up, could you share some tips for our readers on decorating a tablescape?
Carol Melbye (CM): Tablescaping isn't just about flowers! Go local and use hardy materials that will last the season! Fallen branches, giant cinnamon sticks, tropical pine foliage, saga seed pods and even hulled coconut could serve as great conversation starters and put a bit of your personality on the table. And you don’t have to always use a vase. Vessels can come in the form of ashtrays, bowls and quirky receptacles.
Favourite installation you've done at Sol Luminaire and the LAB2.1?
CM: These are some of our favourites so far! Most of them are experiments in challenging the notion of an arrangement not needing a vessel.
Local Pine at Sol Luminaire, illuminated by Halo.
Unconventional materials that make for a great centrepiece. A sculpture of bananas at the LAB2.1.
Could you share more about your creative process from ideation to outcome.
JL: Our creative process is a bit of a mystery to us as well, non-linear and different every time. I think our practice is most accurately described as some sort of collective intuition?! We encourage openly sharing hunches... even the tiniest of inklings. It could be a feeling about anything: a space, a provocation, a mood, an idea or an ingredient... that we check by consensus. We are most successful when we don't overthink it… when we are able to feel the direction of the prevailing wind.
What are some of the botanical trends you see happening in 2022?
JL: Orchids are having a real moment! There’s been such a resurgence of interest in this most interesting plant species that also happens to hold such significance for Singapore.
If you can share more about the plan for sustainability the team has headed towards.
For reasons of sustainability, agency oversupply in the advent of the pandemic and a desire for material that is not commercially available, we started our own cutting garden in 2020. As much as possible, we use plants found locally and in the region and at least 20 percent of the materials, we use come from our garden. These include unusual cultivars and heirloom varietals such as white sunflowers, glass gem corn, marigold and red passionfruit flowers.
The infamous ghost cactus takes centre stage at the LAB2.1.