Street paste-up advertisements are a waste of paper—or are they? One creative duo in Madrid is putting plants where street posters belong in a new sustainable poster design project called Plants of Posters. Co-founded by designers Juan Frias and Fede Moreno, this budding project aims to use poster ad space as walls for D.I.Y. plant pots—on their website, they have six different designs anyone can print out on thick paper, fill with soil and put a plant on a poster. It all started when Frias and Moreno saw that the advertising space where posters were going up are mostly illegal and are trying to salvage greener space for an increasingly grey city.
What alarming statistics made you start this project?
Right now, 50% of the world’s population are living in urban areas. By 2050, this number will increase by 70%, which means that we will fight to keep the green areas in our cities. We thought we could use the city space to communicate something more than a concert or an art event could do—draw attention to the lack of green areas by putting plant pots on walls.
Why plant pots on walls?
We needed to find a way to communicate this problem of keeping our cities green, but we didn’t want to raise a flag and go out screaming on the streets, so we had to think of a different solution. After talking about this problem, we noticed a second problem that happens: the takeover of poster wall areas in Madrid. We did some research about it and found out that most of them are illegal. Posters are glued on every wall in the city center, and even worse: on the windows of stores that have closed down. After one poster is glued, you will end up seen a lot more being glued on top of each other. It’s pretty ugly.
What kind of plants are the best to use for this sustainable poster design project?
Since the downloadable plant pot models are made to fit an A3 piece of paper, small plants fit best. The best ones are flowers of any kind, or small home plants like a spider plant, aloe vera or even some Boston ferns.
What was your biggest inspiration for this project?
The street artist Zezão, also known as José Augusto Amaro, paints culverts in Sao Paulo. We are also inspired by the designer and street artist Alexandre Orion, who responds to city problems with art. When it comes to sustainable architecture and hanging gardens, we love the work of Jean Nouvel. All of these artists understand city problems and make an inspiring turnaround to criticize it.
How many have been implemented so far?
So far, we have made around 12 around the city but we will create more. We are checking which areas are safe to plant them and figure out ways to avoid legal problems.
What has been the feedback so far for this project?
Since we don’t have any brand backing or money to advertise it, we depend on people who see it on the street or on internet to share it. It goes at a slower pace but we’re not losing hope. We hope to see many walls on many cities covered by these vases with some nice flowers or plants.
Are you worried about vandalism?
Yes and no. Since the vases are planted over posters we know they won’t stay there forever, and they aren’t meant to. The same people who glue these vases to the posters will remove the vases to glue more posters. Passers-by will also try to do something: When we were making on the vases and pasting it to posters, an old lady came to check it out and said she wanted to take a flower. We explained the project and she decided to leave the flower and even encouraged us to fill the wall with the vases so she could come from time to time to water the plants.