Home Pharmacy: Art infused with essential oils
Home Pharmacy is a plant-themed decorative textile wall hanging that comes with switchable paper petals infused with peppermint and lavender. Designer Elena Brebenel created the project as an interactive tool built to raise awareness about improving the air quality of homes.
The non-woven linen wall hanging depicting the aromatic plants lavender, yarrow, mint and daisy.
Each Home Pharmacy comes with fragments of paper cutouts shaped like the plants’ leaves and petals which are infused with peppermint and lavender oil.
Tabs in the paper petals allow the user to slot the fragrant petals into place.
Brebenel said she found inspiration for the project in how blue tit birds place fragments of these plants in their nests to protect their young against pathogenic bacteria and parasites.
The wall hanging is designed to be put up at home and added to in the same way that blue tits build their nests.
Individually packaged for use, the paper cutouts can be re-infused with essential oils once the oils evaporate.
Brebenel explained how, while the project does not improve the quality of air in a home, by replicating the behaviour of a blue tit with an interactive textile, users begin to adapt their thinking and actions towards their own health.Related storyAirBird is a smart sensor that chirps to highlight indoor air pollution
“After researching the topic and identifying the important role that occupant behaviour plays at home, I found that raising awareness can be a very efficient way to deal with the issue and can lead to behavioural changes,” explained the designer.
Indoor air quality can be compromised for various reasons including by oil and gas used for cooking, as well as household cleaning products and central heating and cooling systems.
Working with bioinspiration, which is the development of novel materials that are informed by existing biological systems, Brebenel used her own textile practice to create the project.
“Because I am a textile designer, the action was informed by the textile craft technique of weaving.”
“As a result, participants take one of the leaf- or petal-shaped fragments of paper impregnated with essential oils, and find where they belong on the wall hanging, then weave them in,” said Brebenel.
Home Pharmacy provides a low-tech approach to thinking about air quality, while simultaneously providing users with a decorative and calming object for their homes.
Other recent projects focusing on improving air quality include a bird-like smart sensor by GXN which chirps to signal poor indoor air conditions and a portable air quality monitor by design studio NotAnotherOne that can be clipped onto a bag to test local pollution levels.
Elena Brebenel is a designer and researcher whose practice explores the intersection of bioinspiration and textile design. She is currently an assistant professor in Interdisciplinary Textiles at Kent State University in Ohio, America.
Photography is by Cristina Schek.