When you think of auto body shops, lush, green foliage may not be the first image that springs to mind. However, an innovative plant display is at the center of the interior design at Selecta Auto Body. The Bay Area auto specialists opened their new eco-friendly shop in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, complete with suspended planters hanging from their shop wall. Selecta Auto Body owner, J.R. Hubbarb, worked for plantscaping company, Plant Design, in his mid-twenties as a plant care technician.

While working at Plant Design, J.R. became fast friends with interior landscaping designer, Jon LaDow. So when the time came to add nature’s touch to his new shop, J.R. knew Jon was the right person for the job.

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Creating a greener body shop

Well-known in the industry for his design prowess, Jon LaDow has won widespread praise for his eye-catching exterior and interior landscapes and imaginative holiday displays. When J.R. contacted him about the project, Jon jumped at the opportunity to help a friend and work on an atypical project. After serving customers for nearly 40 years out of their previous location, Selecta set out to upgrade to a new location that not only allowed for better equipment but enabled J.R. and team to create a truly green building.

“We took into consideration many things to ensure we were designing an eco-friendly workspace, including the plantscaping,” said Mr. Hubbard. “My wife (Jackie) and I actually met when we were working for Plant Design and have known Jon for 20 years.”

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Innovative wall solutions for the Selecta space

According to J.R.,“We reached out to Jon because we wanted to add a lot of plants to our workspace. We were looking for good plants that could be out of the way of the equipment while providing the shop with a good oxygen turnover and air filtration.”

Jon surveyed the space and came up with an innovative plant design and installation plan. The Ambius team installed a little over 300 pothos in wall-mounted planters. While the automobiles may be pumping out carbon dioxide, the plants are pumping out oxygen and cleaning the air of toxins. Jon designed the wall-mounted pothos to match the general shape of Selecta Auto Body’s highly recognizable sign that hangs near the shop’s entrance. The sign was installed previously and a graphic designer friend of J.R. added their logo to the sign. “Our signs are red throughout the shop. The way the big, green plant displays balance the red is really cool,” said J.R. “I don’t know an auto body shop that has more than two plants in their shop much less 300 plants.”

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An appreciated difference

Spending time in his previous professional life maintaining interior plants, J.R. cemented his lifelong appreciation for plant life and also acquired the skills to care for the shop’s plants himself. “To this day, I still tell people that [working for Plant Design] was the best job I ever had. I enjoyed visiting offices where people were killing themselves working and watering their plants.”

Having plants in their shop was so important to the Selecta team that they earmarked a budget from the very beginning of the process for the design, installation, and upkeep of the plants. Not only do the plants delight customers aesthetically, but they reduce noise levels inside the facility. Mounted on a big concrete wall, the plants will act as a sound buffer in an environment that can be quite noisy.

“Selecta wanted to do something bold and make a statement on the walls of the shop,” said Jon LaDow, Ambius Elite Designer. “The wall-mounted troughs needed to extend out from the wall to avoid intermixing with the piping.” In addition to the wall, Jon added plants to the balcony leading up to the 2nd floor and to the stairs near the front door. Plants have made a difference where one doesn’t usually think of adding them, and the response from customers and employees at Selecta has been overwhelmingly positive. “It has been a truly fruitful relationship with Jon and Ambius. I am extremely pleased to add plants and greenery to our space making it more aesthetically pleasing and helpful to our environment,” added Hubbard.

To learn more about Jon’s work, visit his designer page.