Creative People

Going Green

TODAY we’re introducing a brand new column – Expert Advice! Over the coming weeks, we’ll be picking the brains of our favourite Australian architects, interior designers, stylists, landscape designers and more on a range of topics.

We’re kicking the column off today with one of our favourite creative couples – Wona Bae and Charlie Lawler of Loose Leaf!

Wona and Charlie share with us their top tips for greenifying indoor spaces.


Wona Bae & Charlie Lawler of Loose Leaf

Indoor garden shelf from Wilston Garden House, designed by Brisbane architectural firm OVP. The large, overflowing plant just left of centre is a Hoya, one of Charlie and Wona’s favourite indoor plants! Photo – Mindi Cooke for The Design Files

Vertical garden displayed on thin steel shelves at The Design Files Open House 2014. The plant selection, curated by Loose Leaf with Georgina Reid of The Planthunter, includes hoyas, string of hearts, devils ivy and various ferns.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Detail from the indoor garden at The Design Files Open House 2014. The plant selection, curated by Loose Leaf with Georgina Reid of The Planthunter, includes hoyas, string of hearts, devils ivy and various ferns.  Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Left – Monstera Deliciosa aka ‘Fruit Salad Plant’ and right – Philodendron in the foliage-filled studio of Camille Moir-Smith of Carpenter’s Daughter in Northcote. Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

Plants aren’t just for home – we love a green workspace too! Above – the foliage-filled studio of Camille Moir-Smith of Carpenter’s Daughter in Northcote. Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

A sweet detail in the studio of Carpenter’s Daughter in Northcote.  Photo – Annette O’Brien for The Design Files.

Plant experts Wona Bae and Charlie Lawler outside their store Loose Leaf in Collingwood. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Wona Bae & Charlie Lawler of Loose Leaf
11th of March 2016

We’re Charlie and Wona, and we are the people behind Loose Leaf, a botanical design studio and carefully considered retail space in the heart of Collingwood. Located in a converted warehouse, our space resembles an indoor jungle. It’s part retail shop, specialising in indoor plants and fresh cut flowers, and part creative studio where we make our botanical installations and products.

Over the past few years we have seen a growing interest in greening indoor spaces. Generally speaking, we feel there is a real desire amongst people out there to start getting creative and reconnecting with nature!

Here’s some of what we have learnt about indoor and house plants along the way.

TIPS FOR SELECTING indoor plants

When choosing appropriate plants for indoors, it’s good to think of your space as a series of micro climates, and to pick plants based on these conditions. Below we have listed the top three things we observe when considering plants in an interior space.


Observe how the light conditions change in your space over the day. Does it get direct sun? Is it morning or afternoon light? How does it compare from summer to winter? At home we have recognised winter and summer locations for our plants based light availability.


Similar to how you observe light conditions, consider temperature variations. Is the space hot or cold? Plants positioned near doors might be subject to drafts. Glass windows can let heat in during the day, but lose it quickly at night. Many indoor plants prefer to naturally grow in warmer regions, and for this reason they often do not tolerate temperatures below 15ºC.


It is important to consider the level of care required to keep the plant alive before purchasing it and making sure you can keep this up. Knowing how often a plant needs to be watered from the get-go, whether this is daily or weekly, helps ensure correct plants are being added to your space.

our current favourite Plants

It’s hard to limit this to just three plants. But at the moment we have a fascination with vines. Rather than choosing plants purely on how they act indoors, we like to consider where they have come from. We love how curious vines are, and how they explore spaces rather than just stay still. Here are our top three climbers:

Epipremnum Aureum (aka Devils Ivy)

Perhaps the most popular of all indoor plants, Epipremnum Aureum is a magnificent vine, native to the South Pacific island of Mo’orea, French Polynesia. Seeing this plant growing wild in the tropics is an awesome sight – it can grow up 20m tall, supporting its climbs using aeriel roots.

Devils Ivy is also probably one of the easiest to care of all house plants. It speaks to you when it needs a drink, as its leaves start to droop slightly when the plant is thirsty, and then bounce back upright once it’s hydrated. Suited for potted or hanging baskets. It can tolerate bright to low light conditions.

Monstera Deliciosa (aka Fruit Salad Plant)

One of our favourite plants, as reflected by its frequent use in our designs. Perhaps most famous for its unique holed leaf structure, this tropical vine is also sometimes called the ‘Swiss cheese plant’!

The Monstera plant is native to Southern Mexico. In the home this large readily available vine makes a striking addition to any room, with bright to moderate light.

Asclepiadaceae (aka Hoya)

The Hoya, also commonly known as Wax flowers. With between 200 – 300 species, this common indoor plant is a collectors dream. Most species are native to the tropics of Asia and Australasia, but readily available in nurseries. It can be grown outdoors in warmer climates and indoors in cooler areas.

These attractive evergreen climbers can grow up to 6m or more in the wild. In addition to their beautiful greenery and vines, they produce spectacular tiny fragrant flowers which often form a star like pattern, and look as if they are made from porcelain or wax, hence the name. Easy to care for and great as either a hanging basket or potted. This quick growing low maintenance climber is an ideal addition to your curious plant collection.

CHOOSING the right plant vessel

When choosing vessels for indoor plants one of the most important considerations is water. How will the vessel hold water? We have designed a range of pots without holes in the base, so water doesn’t go everywhere, which is pretty handy for house plants! These have been made to fit all common sizes of plastic pots, so instead of repotting into the planter, you can simply place one pot inside the other.

We also work with a range of local potters who create plant vessels using a similar philosophy. Some of our favourite local makers include Tara Shackell, Sophie MoranWingnut and Co and Anna Forsyth.

Our best kept plant secret!

Our best kept secret is probably observation. There are no hard and fast rules when it come to plant care. For example, it’s virtually impossible to say the exact intervals a plant might need water. There are so many factors that influence indoor plant life, from local micro climate conditions such as light or air conditioning, to seasonal changes and availability of care. We like to consider every plant individually and monitor how they are doing daily.

For more plant advice and all things green, Loose Leaf is co-hosting an upcoming plant fair called GROW DAY, in collaboration with The Planthunter next Saturday 19 March in Fitzroy North. More details here.

Loose Leaf
31 Sackville Street

Loose Leaf, located at 31 Sackville Street in Collingwood. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

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