Photo Credit: Slowkind

We love plants at Starcity! Plants add that extra element that really livens up a space, whether it’s inside your home or outside on your patio. We partnered with Casa Protea in Barcelona to find plants that transformed our space into a beautiful jungle-like terrace. Jesús and Pancho share a passion in collecting plants, which gave the the duo this idea to start their own Plant Studio. Let’s dive in a little deeper to learn what Casa Protea is all about!

Photo Credit: Slowkind

What is Casa Protea and how did it start?

Casa Protea Plant Collector Studio is composed by Jesús and Pancho, two plantlovers that decided to open their studio in the Gràcia neighborhood about three years ago. Casa Protea was created from our enthusiasm for botany and its ability to work as a bond between space we inhabit and us. Even though our education (artist and architect) seems to be quite far from the plant world, we both have an inheritance in common: our grandmother’s passion. Eager Gardeners and collectors from the rarest species. Thanks to them we learned the long and extraordinary growth of a cactus, from its seed up to its blooming or the importance of cuttings for proliferating.

What makes you different from the rest of florist stores?

Probably one of the main differences is the species selection. We have quite a predilection for rare plants with fanciful figures as well as collector plants or large species difficult to find. Another key factor is that we like to hand-pick one by one all the plants that we offer. It is true that the cactus is our weakness as well as other juicy species, especially “caudiciform” plants, which we are not sure why but they have become our favorites over the years. Maybe it is because their singular forms have seduced us.

What do you think about the artificial plants and how does its huge demand affect you?

We are not big supporters of artificial plants but it is true that nowadays there are some brands offering very realistic collections which are the perfect solution for spaces with no natural light. That being said, we have never worked with artificial plants even though on more than one occasion some people have asked us if our plants in the studio were real or not. We take that as a compliment for the good care we take of our plants.

Is Social Media (Instagram) a big promoter of your success? How has this platform helped increase your business in this almost forgotten industry?

Instagram has been a key tool for the promotion of Casa Protea. Thanks to this social network we have reached an audience that would have been very difficult to achieve otherwise. It also has been very useful to create community, which is one of our main pillars of our business. Instagram has given us the opportunity to accomplish several projects that we would never hear of without this platform. At the same time, the fact that all our publications are in both English and Spanish has allowed us to get a much wider audience.

We could say that the florist industry and gardening is perceived as an old people hobby. This has been changing for the last decade and more people are becoming intrigued about this subject. In your opinion, to what do we owe this interest?

As we have said in the beginning, our love for plants comes from a familiar inheritance from our grandmothers. Oddly enough, neither of our mothers have had this interest and attraction for plants as their mothers did. However, it is true that young people are starting to feel the need to surround themselves with plants for the last few years. In fact, mostly all our customers are in their 20s or 30s. We think that this new phase is triggered by the fact that living in big cities has unconsciously made us grow apart from nature and decorating our homes with plants makes us reconnect again somehow. It is known that plants improve our well-being and help to purify our spaces, apart from make them cozier and warmer. Once you start collecting plants, it is very difficult to stop. They are highly addictive!

It is inevitable to admit that the plant and flower industry has an artistic element to it, do you have any mentor/idol that inspires you?

There are few sources of inspiration when it comes to face a new project, but without a doubt, what inspires us the most is traveling. Beside plants, one of our main passions is to travel the globe, and the truth is that both of them are closely related. Botanic Parks from different countries are one of our main inspirations as well as an Australian platform named The Plant Hunter, which has a very rich content in both images and articles. Another site that we are passionate about is Historias de Casa where they post several spaces full of plants.When it comes to specific plants such as cactus, Hot Cactus LA is one of our favorites and in the floral universe, the Japanese site Azuma Makoto.

Is the world of gardening static? Or is it constantly evolving?

Always moving and evolving! For better or worse, within the plant industry there are also trends which turn some species into the object of desire as the“Monstera Variegata”. This constant evolution turns every project into a challenge but furthermore, has forced new farmers to appear which are testing with new species that you were only able to find in countries like the Netherlands or Belgium.

What was your Project with Starcity about and where can we find it?

One of our first projects with Starcity was the terrace from the coliving space in Sardenya street (Barcelona). We had to deal with an open terrace for which we chose a selection of sun lovers’ species with very rare figures. Most of them were unique and old species. It is worth highlighting the “Kleinia Neriifolia”(which is typical from the Canary Islands) which remind us of a jellyfish. Wecan also find “Pachypodium Lamerei” (another of our favorites) or “Aeonium Schwarzkopf” (known for its black leaves). Photos below.

What can we find in your book and to whom is it targeted towards?

Me quiere, no me quiere” is a book full of stories and value information about the good care of interior plants. We share our tips and experience with tropical plants, air plants, cactus and many others. Besides, it includes some DIY tutorials where you can learn how to be the best gardener step by step. In the end, it is a basic guideline for everyone who wants to start in the mesmerizing world of botany and its cares. The reader will find new ideas, solutions and inspiration to turn their homes in living jungles.

How do you picture Casa Protea in 5-10 years from now?

We have always been seduced by the idea of growing our own plants. In fact, with some help we have started to grow some species that were not easy to find in the market. We don’t have much time to spare on that but it is a part of our daily schedule that gives us plenty of joy. Another of our long-term projects is to own a piece of land and build a little cabana and surround it with an incredible cactus collection.

Thank you so much Jesús and Pancho for creating such a magical space for our members to come and relax! You can check out Casa Protea’s workshops on their site, as well as their contact information if you want to get in touch.