Decolonizing Horticulture with Green Designer MONAI MCCULLOUGH

"[...] plants are not simply possessions, they like us, move, change, grow, wither, and survive."


Green Designer Monai McCullough

THE STORY


Profession:

Entrepreneur, Green Designer, Plant Care Coach


Current Location:

Amsterdam, Netherlands


Early Career:

Studied retail design, worked as a florist, which eventually led me into working with plants and gardening.


Green Designer Monai McCullough Planthood

Current Works:

Currently I split my time between running multiple projects from designing and installing spaces in restaurants, offices, and running my ongoing business/project planthood, a small store and studio space in Amsterdam where I host workshops and informational sessions around plantcare.

People/Brands/Companies/Organizations you have worked with:

Booking.com, Timberland, Nike, Soho House, Kinfolk, to name a few.

The work you are the most proud of:

The very first mega plant I installed, haha, its still alive* 3 years later, and almost 9 meters high these days. The opportunity so early in my business was such a lightbulb moment for me.


Green Designer Monai McCullough Planthood

THE QU & A


What are 3 values that you wish to mediate through your work?


I want to nurture the understanding that plants are not for experts they are for everyone, and with that comes a lifetime of learning, plants are not simply possessions, they like us, move, change, grow, wither, and survive.


Decolonization of horticulture is always centered in my work, what does that look like? Reclaiming of space that has been historically exclusive, unlearning how we have been told to look at, interact, or even call (by name) different plants and of course, changing the narrative of who tells the stories of the natural world on every level.


Community, having a community around plants and plant lovers are so important. We all have something to learn from each other and with that we can grow.


Planthood Community Amsterdam

What are 3 relevant problems that you wish to solve through your work?


I do not believe that I alone can solve the problems in my industry, nor do I wish to carry that burden but the single most important aspect we need to change is how gardening looks – I am unimaginable when you think of a gardener, a green designer, and creative entrepreneur.


Green Designer Monai McCullough Planthood

GENESIS


Why do you create?

Green activations, designs, and cultural events.


How do you create?

By letting the plants lead the way, starting with what they need and then bring that to what I do.


What do you live for?

This question always confuses me, ha, I think my purpose is to just be, it does not need reason.


How do you live?

The best way I can, with what I have, what I know, and who I love.


Green Designer Monai McCullough Planthood

THE CONVERSATION


How can art be used for personal and collective forms of meditation and as a tool to express the injustices we see today?

Question asked by Asia Ahmed, Poet & Photographer, London


I believe art can choose to be meditative and it can express injustice, but I am always questioning how the two can overlap without accountability. Meditation is not awarded to the viewer if they are a victim and art does not hold the absolute/sole power of expressing the many intersections of injustice.


Planthood Ad in Amsterdam

How can we actually raise awareness [especially for big conglomerates] and make them understand that we must produce less and slow down?

Question asked by Arturo Obegero, Fashion Designer, Paris


They know, they know very well, so I do not think that is the responsibility of the consumer or anyone else for large companies when they often fund the very research that gives us statistical data of overproduction.


Green Designer Monai McCullough Planthood

What’s happening next doesn’t really affect those who live in their own creative world, does it?

Question asked by Helen Ma, President & Founding Partner of Manna Group, Hong Kong


I would disagree with this, I think in the hyper-capitalistic world even the most creative humans struggle with the urge of “what’s next” since we are conditioned to believe that we are valuable if we produce, whether that is creatively, or not.


This interview contributes to a new media format, where Creatives are in full control of their narratives. By exploring alternatives to narrative journalism, GAHSP starts unconventional conversations, emphasizing values and problems that shape our lives collectively.


Written and Edited by Julia Horvath

Image Courtesy of Monai Mccullough