boZannical Commission: Moss Sculptures for Dropbox

In the several months since my last post I’ve been extremely busy with installations and designs, both freelance and through my job. One of the most exciting and rewarding projects to ever come my way just installed this past week – hanging moss sculptures!

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We were contacted at Flora Grubb Gardens to do an interior plant design for the new headquarters for Dropbox, a great free cloud storage company that I’ve used myself for a few years now to manage working on my schoolwork from multiple locations. They connected with staff designer Patrick Lannan for the job. The new HQ involved plants for six floors of offices, and a cluster of six moss spheres for the entrance lobby, to be suspended from the ceiling. I was thrilled when they reviewed my reindeer moss panels for Oculus and then commissioned me for the spheres! This is taking my vertical gardening experience to new heights, crossed with my artistic background.

In meetings we discussed the desired look – not spherical, but rather “organic form” with a variety of mosses in natural greens – and I was given carte blanche to create. What more can an artist possibly ask for?! I was given a schematic that layed out where each piece would hang, how high off the floor, and diameters of each piece, and took it from there with the understanding that the schematic was true for placement, but the actual dimensions and forms would be up to my eye.

(The raw space in January [top] and same space before installation in March [bottom].)

Conceptualizing took several weeks of thought and experimentation with different materials. I knew I’d be hot-gluing dry moss to something, but needed to figure out what that something would be. Chicken wire proved too weak structurally, not to mention too open of a weave to be useful for the gluing. I considered wrapping chicken wire frames in fabric or gauze, but the end result finally came to me after experimenting with several different metal meshes.

I had probably the best time sourcing and selecting mosses for this, and then getting creative with clusters and patterns of different mosses playing off each other with various textures and greens. The moss itself is hot-glued directly to the mesh. It’s all dry moss that will retain its color as long as there’s no direct sunlight. The entrance lobby at Dropbox is north facing and has huge UV shielded windows. Perfect setting for the mosses. All total I think I used six different true mosses, plus Spanish moss, five different lichens, reindeer moss, and tree bark pieces I collected from Chinese elms whilst on dog walks around my neighborhood at home. Two of the pieces also incorporate mossy/lichen-crusted branches that were given to me by my friend, John Alexander, who’s one of the gardeners at Laguna Honda Hospital.

(Playing with contrasting textures and colors.)

The dry mosses do not need to be watered. I discovered, though, that hitting them with a spray bottle fluffed the mosses nicely after arriving stacked in sheets crammed into boxes. In terms of maintenance, really the only thing will be dusting. I mean, yeah, it would be great if someone could get up there every month and spray them, but in reality it’s not necessary. By the second piece, it occurred to me to strategically start placing the greyer Spanish moss around the top of them where the cable comes through. That will help camouflage dust. All that will be needed is a gentle vacuuming on top, perhaps annually or whenever lights need changing.

(Here’s the largest piece, in our living room, seen from the street.)

The largest sculpture is over three feet across, with two just under three feet, two that are about two and a half feet, and the smallest at two feet. Took up a huge amount of space to work on these! The installation finally happened this past week, just in time for the grand opening of the new building on Monday. It was fifteen weeks from contact to concept to construct to complete. Installation went spectacularly, with the general contractor onsite providing a couple of his crew and a scissor lift to reach the 24-foot ceiling. One whole wall of the lobby is a huge mirror, tilted forward at the top and visually doubling the room and the installation. The sculptures can also be seen from a vantage point on the second floor, and when the building’s lit from inside they’ll show from the street.

It was exceptionally rewarding to have everybody from Dropbox, the interior design crew, the plant installation crew, movers, and contractors all stopping in awe at the installation and taking photos. It’s the perfect spectacular setting for some spectacular moss sculptures! These are, quite literally, the first thing you see when you walk in the front door, and the impact is inspiring. It’s my proudest art creation, and it’s rewarding beyond words to see my work hanging in such an auspicious place.

Check out the whole of the Flickr set here.

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