Minimalism, Greenery, and the Moss Wall Revolution

Have you ever stood at the base of a waterfall or sat by a gentle, sparkling stream, and observed the moist rocks next to them covered with the most pristine shade of green? You cannot help but to reach forward and touch the beckoning surface – that is when the tactile softness takes your breath away, drains you of your stress, and brings a joyful smile upon your face.   

An ancient Buddhist traditional feature

“The ground surface is made up of a single expanse of moss, incredibly soft, quiet, and shimmering. Unusually shaped natural rocks, arranged in the 7-5-3 series, give the impression of power and security. To view this garden purifies the heart, pacifies the mind, and directs the eye inward.”

This passage from Zen Buddhism: A History describes a garden grown in the ancient Zen Buddhist tradition of Japan. The words capture a pacific vision that gently sweeps away the passage of time – bringing us closer to the timelessness of the universe itself. The growing moss on the moist rocks and walls of the temples added to the environment of peace and solitude sought by the monks of old. Today, as we live our busy lives, many of us silently and unknowingly yearn for that same feeling of connection – not just with nature, but also with the expanse that lies beyond it.

Maybe therein lies the appeal of the swathes of three-dimensional greenery created by moss walls – which strive to bring us together with a concept of nature that stretches us beyond our earthly existence even as we live confined within our urban restraints.

These Zen gardens were not very large – in fact, they were small and minimalistic following the principle of “less is more.” The monks would use small stones and tiny plants to create their personal temples for their minds and bodies. Today, minimalistic designs that favor a tight palette within the greens are a reflection with our desire to establish our one-ness with nature. The story is told with simple lines and shapes, texture within the same colors, and most importantly, the breath of life that only plants can bring into the confines of a room.

What makes mosses so special? 

Mosses are some of the most primitive forms of plants with the simplest of structures defined by their roots, stems, and leaves.  The structures are so tiny, that they can be viewed in morphological detail only after substantial magnification. Said to have evolved from algae, mosses are omnipresent with more than 14,500 identified types in existence today.

Despite their simplicity, or perhaps because of it, mosses are amazing survivors. These plants have very low nutritional needs and grow next to each other in a tight community, providing physical support to each other as they grow, and creating and fertilizing a rich organic soil over generations of growth. In times of stress, mosses simply suspend growth, only to resume their steady, slow growth during favorable conditions. The micro-ecosystems created by mosses harbor tiny insects and establish healthy symbiotic relationships. Learn more about mosses and their ability to purify and monitor the environment. 

Mosses teach us how to live in minimalistic elegance, and carry with them the lessons of perseverance and endurance. They are not dependent, but thrive on their ability to find opportunity in their quiet, unassuming way. They can cover large areas, and yet not overwhelm. By creating their own reality, mosses end up growing in the unlikeliest of places, which also makes them easy to grow indoors as part of living and breathing works of art.

The art of moss walls

That is exactly what moss walls are – living, breathing pieces of nature’s art. As biophilic design becomes a prevalent feature in indoor landscaping, moss walls are increasing in demand. Corporations are learning the value of bringing the outdoors indoors, and creating moss walls in offices is a logical extension of that thinking. Studies have shown that biophilic design that introduces natural greenery into the workspace has a very real, positive impact on job satisfaction, which translates to enhanced productivity. 

Green is today’s new neutral, and adding moss wall features simply adds to the minimalistic elegance of any room. It also demonstrates a company’s stewardship towards a sustainable ecosystem and their commitment to the health and welfare of their employees and visitors. Moss walls improve contentment, as well as the overall mental and physical health of employees.

Moss walls vs. traditional living walls

One of the biggest advantages of moss walls over traditional living walls is that they require minimal attention and maintenance. Traditional living walls have been around since the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, but they do require extensive irrigation systems that make them more challenging to install and maintain indoors. Thus, they need to be maintained by experts who understand the plants involved and their needs to survive and thrive.

Where to find moss wall art?

Moss Wall Art (created by Plant Solutions) is a company that specializes in creating custom pieces of moss wall art that abstracts nature with intricate designs. These art pieces use natural elements such as driftwood to create dramatic spaces and raise the visual impact to a new dimension. Their works of art are available in standard sizes, but they also create custom pieces in any size. Each unit is a unique piece of work, exclusive to the buyer. As a visitor locks eyes with a moss wall piece of art, they get transported in that moment to an ethereal place. Moss Wall Art ensures long term sustainability of their living art pieces, satisfying their clients’ needs for uniqueness, personalization, and durability.

Artisan Moss is another company that offers companies an opportunity to create a natural escape vehicle for their workers in the form of moss walls. They pride themselves in creating living moss art that remains forever green and maintenance free. Drawn from the field of landscape design, the company strives to adapt living wall art for the home and office, set in stunning displays.

Moss walls lend themselves to tremendous levels of creativity and represent the next wave of evolution of easily sustainable living walls that can be adapted into intricate art forms. As greenery invades our offices, we can expect to see more moss wall art pieces showing up in the urban office-scape. Along with moss, expect to see plenty of lichens as well. Although unrelated to mosses, lichens grow with very similar resilience to mosses and lend themselves to similar artistic license.—

Carol Shute