When Roel Ventura, Ambient Designer at Ambius, first moved to Seattle, Washington he did what came natural to him. The plant life of the Pacific Northwest inspired him to incorporate native elements of the landscape into his stunning plant designs. These days, you can often find Roel searching the roadside for the perfect clippings to compliment his floral displays. To explain this creative approach, Roel spoke with Greener on the Inside.
Greener on the Inside: How did the idea of “Roadside Clippings” come about?
Roel: Growing up in the islands, if you needed plants you would just go outside and see what you can find down the road. Being from the big island of Hawaii (a place known for foliage production), I was constantly surrounded by lush tropical plants and greenery. Whenever you needed to make decorations you would simply go out and gather what you needed. So when I came to Seattle, it was my natural instinct to go out and see what kind of plant life I could use in the local area.
Greener on the Inside: Where did you get your passion for working with plants?
Roel: Both my grandmothers had a green thumb. I spent time from an early age working side by side with my Mom’s mom in the garden. I attended BYU in Provo and majored in Horticulture and that solidified my decision to want to become a designer that worked with plants.
Greener on the Inside: How were you able to translate your tropical influences into working in the Seattle area.
Roel: The foliage I grew up around was very palm-like, green, lush, and bold with dramatic leaves. The flowers always smelled really good. Contrast that with Seattle, it’s still very lush and green but with a lot of pine, deciduous, and moss. It’s a different plant pallet all together but the idea of working with what you have at fingertips is the same. I think there are a lot of similarities between Seattle and where I grew up as far as water and vegetation. That’s why I love it here. It reminds me of home except there are no palm trees.
Seattle is a very green, sustainable, conscientious place and I think I can do my part by taking a greener approach to design. It’s a small effort to be greener and work with what’s available locally.
Greener on the Inside: Where do you go to find the plants?
Roel: It’s the places where you go and your walking along and stop and say, ‘Oh, look there’s a fallen tree, or there’s a shrub or plant that is growing profusely.’ It’s a handful of this and handful of that. You put it all together and create something new. When I worked in Los Angeles, I would buy in stores a lot of the things that I find growing naturally in Seattle.
Greener on the Inside: Where can Seattlites view some of your “Roadside Clippings” in and around the city?
Roel: I’ve been using the urban clippings at the Westin Bellevue Hotel in the floral designs we rotate weekly. We’ve also been incorporating the clippings into some of the arrangements of orchids we send out to clients.
Greener on the Inside: What kind of reaction have you received from your “Roadside Clippings?”
Roel: I want people to say “Hey, I have those plants in my backyard.” It’s great to see the reaction of people when they see the plants I’m using and wonder what are I am going to do with that? There’s a hotel manager I do business with who looks forward every week to seeing what I come up with. As a designer, I try and take what’s outside and bring it in. I am interested in using more regionalized plants like ferns and Norfolk Island pine in buildings. I’m on that bandwagon and want to see how I can help push the trend forward.
To view more of Roel’s portfolio, please visit www.ambius.com/roel.
Interested in Roel’s “Roadside Clippings?” Share your thoughts below in the comments!