Brandon writes: Patrick Blanc LIVE

Online classes are great. You can sit at home in your underwear, eating warm apple pie and soaking up your education. Wait, pause for a second, I need another slice of pie.  This works beautifully for classes, but not all campus events are taped, and for those which are not you will have to find some pants and get yourself to school.

To be invited to some of the extracurricular events that are worth getting out of bed for, I highly recommend joining the Harvard University Center for the Environment (HUCE) newsletter email list. Just below the logo at the top left of the main page of the website you will see “sign up for newsletter” inside the blue bar. The Harvard Museum of Natural History is another event list you want to be on; their newsletter sign-up is on the lower left side of the main page. You don’t even have to wait for an invite from the museum, the next chance you get, go feast your eyes on the insanely beautiful exhibitions. The glass flowers exhibition will have you questioning your vision; hundreds of perfect looking flowers all made entirely of glass. And that’s just a warm up for the thousands of exquisitely preserved and presented works of Mother Nature, animals so perfect, so spectacular it will have your head spinning.

If you have yet to see a guest lecture live on campus, here is one recent example and why it is worth making the trip. On Nov 3rd, the superstar French botanist, Patrick Blanc flew from an ongoing project in Korea to have a meeting with a potential client in New York City and then where could he go next that could compete with such sensational jet setting destinations? Harvard University, of course! And a big “Thank You” to the great people of the Graduate School of Design who made his visit possible. At some events it’s hard to know who the speaker is; which one in the crowd of strangers is that amazing person we have all come to see? Patrick Blanc solved that problem by rocking his electric green hair, spotted green silken shirt, and matching green leather shoes—it is a marker of success when you can parade your inner-self and make a great living doing it.

Blanc proceeded to live up to and beyond the high bar set by his chic appearance. He presented stunning imagery of the nature inspired techniques he had invented for installing, on completely vertical urban walls, hundreds of species of plants in a harmoniously mesh of lush living green, akin to a scene from the deep Amazon jungle. His art began as a child when he learned that he could hang the roots of potted plants into his aquarium to form a symbiotic relationship. He laughs at the randomness with which his work finally caught on after years of going unnoticed, and suddenly launched him into his current superstardom. Another testament to his success, his latest project bid is for a company in the United Arab Emirates, which will likely be, in classic Dubai fashion, the biggest and best man made living wall on the entire planet, covering an arch between two skyscrapers. This awesome plan bares the ingenious mark of Patrick Blanc; the entire vertical forest would be watered solely by the air conditioning condensation, a by-product of the year-round cooling needed for the buildings. This condensation, which would otherwise be wasted, evaporated into thin air, could instead feed thousands of living plants and the minds and spirits of all that behold it. See his work here:

Because Mihoko and I both came from an art background, when we had this infusion of inspiration from Patrick Blanc’s presentation, we responded by making art of our own. Pictured above are the necklace and necktie designs we fabricated and wore last Friday to the Undergraduate Degree Programs Candidate and Faculty Reception.

Who’s lecture, online or live, has inspired you, and what did you do with the energy? Please share your stories in the comments field below.

Huge thanks to photojournalist Jake Belcher for capturing and sharing his great photos.


  1. dave bockman
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    Hi, would you guys happen to know if Mr. Blanc’s lecture was recorded? I would very much enjoy hearing what he had to say!

  2. Posted December 17, 2009 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    I am not sure if it was recorded. Give the Harvard Graduate School of Design a call, they will know for sure. Here is the contact list:

    And thank you for your comment!

    Happy Holidays,

  3. dave bockman
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Thank you!

  4. dave bockman
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    p.s. While I wait for a return call, may I ask you: Did Mr. Blanc raise the topic of, or did he respond to questions concerning, his methodology of vertical gardening and cooler climates? There is much speculation about the viability of his system in areas which experience significant freeze/thaw cycles.

    • Posted December 17, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      He had major installations in England and much of Europe where is gets down to freezing so he must have a good balance of freeze tolerant plants but he did not address that issue in the lecture. Try finding one of his installs in a colder climate and giving the location a call, they can give you first had input that way 🙂

      • dave bockman
        Posted December 17, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Great points, thanks mate!

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