It’s been a long week, and here you are, still frantically thinking of all the things you need to do with the time you don’t have. But then, gentle rolling hills of moss beckon and soothe you, and all melts away. You breathe more deeply, soften your gaze. Plant your feet, feel the earth beneath you. This is the timeless appeal of the moss wall.
Its subtle shades of green and grey evoke simplicity and peacefulness, while tiny details suggest an ancient, mysterious, but benevolent world beyond our understanding. A miniature landscape of moss and lichen invites you to forget your hurry- slow down, breathe deeply. Moss walls are the latest trend in interior decor, but their secrets are very old.
A thousand years ago, the Zen Buddhist monks of Japan delighted in the cool tranquility of the moss that grew in their temple gardens. They cultivated them on stones and walls, creating the sensation of expansiveness, freedom from clutter and daily distraction. For them, moss was an essential element: a symbol of harmony, age, and tradition that facilitated meditation.
Contemplating landscapes was a path to enlightenment, a break from constant mental chatter, a quiet escape from busy practical concerns. Just as today, cities crowded the mind, and garden spaces were tight. Using simple stones and tiny plants, the monks created in miniature the oases of wildness they craved. Their gardens were small, enclosed, simple, and serene.
These moss-covered shrines embodied absolute minimalism, distilling natural essence into a shelter for the mind and the body. Joe Zazzera and Pat Mahan are at the forefront of this lovely new trend in interior living designs. Joe and Pat are the long-time owners of Plant Solutions, a company that designs interior plantscapes in Arizona.
Over 25 years of designing natural installations, they kept hearing clients ask for designs that did not require watering or maintenance, but still brought the sensation of nature into their interior spaces. They discovered that they could create dimensional art pieces that abstracted natural design, and complemented all kinds of interiors. They began incorporating moss and lichen, along with beautiful and sustainable hand-harvested pieces of driftwood and other natural elements, into custom vertical pieces.
Their work is stunning, and all are unique. These pieces are shrine-like spaces to be sensed as much as viewed. Tiny landscapes of lichen and moss rest alongside wood and stone, mimicking the natural beauty of the outdoors, and bringing it within.
“We think of these as bio-mimicry art pieces, mimicking the outdoors we would rather be playing in, and connecting us to our human nature and innate love of living things,” says Joe. “Each one is a like a little miniature shrine at the edge of the wilderness between our offices and our primeval nature.”