When it comes to shopping I am quite monogamous. I like to enter long term relationships with shops, and then visit the same shops every time I need to buy a specific gift. It’s efficient. One shop I have entered into this arrangement with is Mr Kitly. I have been visiting since 2010, when I worked a few blocks down on Sydney Road, back when Mr Kitly was contained to just one small room and a gallery space. That’s where I met owner Bree Claffey, perched at her desk in her plant-filled, Japanese-inspired, handcrafted ceramic utopia.
Mr Kitly was one of the first Melbourne stores to kick start the indoor plant resurgence. Bree sold everything from desktop air plants to the covetable fiddle leaf fig tree. So it makes sense that she was approached by Thames & Hudson in 2013 to write a book about indoor plants. The book is called Indoor Green: Living with Plants and is due for release this month.
After five years spent living in Japan in her formative twenties, Bree returned home with the desire to combine her love of handcrafted ceramics and plants. With qualifications in philosophy and Japanese language (she previously worked at Melbourne University), Bree decided to take a gamble and open her own retail store and gallery space. ‘It was a mildly crazy gamble, as I had no experience doing either,’ Bree reflects. ‘Living in Japan strongly influenced my aesthetic tastes and instilled in me an innate sympathy for small, esoteric shops and spaces. I hope Mr Kitly channels that a little bit.’
Bree attributes her affinity with indoor plants to her Grandma, who had a shadehouse full of green treasures. While the attraction to indoor plants was initially purely aesthetic, after beginning to research different species, Bree also became fascinated with the health benefits of being surrounded by plant life. She started to widely source and stock plants in her shop, and over the years, has accidentally become a bit of an indoor jungle expert.
Bree’s book Indoor Green: Living with Plants is the result of this obsession. The book has been in development for the last two years, and is the work of both Bree and her friend and collaborator, local photographer Lauren Bamford. A beautiful hardback coffee table book, Indoor Green details Bree’s extensive plant knowledge, as well introducing a great group of fellow plant loving friends of Mr Kitly, and home tours of plant-filled interior spaces.
‘It is a book packed with plant-related treasures that you can return to again and again I hope,’ says Bree. ‘I am really happy that I could introduce some of the people I have gotten to know in Melbourne, the US and Japan via Mr Kitly, and to present a bit of a wider view of indoor plants.’
On the temperamental nature of indoor plants Bree is pragmatic and suggests – ‘take the time to get to know them, they will let you know what they like.’
381 Sydney Road (upstairs)
Indoor Green: Living with Plants by Bree Claffey with photography by Lauren Bamford is priced at $49.99 and available for pre-order now (delivery in mid October).