“Did you know that the air plant is related to that fun-loving Hawaiian pizza topping known as the pineapple? A lot of people that I meet don’t know this and I secretly love that… because it means I can go all crazy air plant lady on them” says Renae, owner and the creator of terrAIRium.
“terrAIRium is my 2 year old hobby business that is completely addictive and I quite literally lose hours when playing with my dried flowers and air plants in the wee hours. I am 34 years of age, shared with my twin brother and we are the youngest of 7 seven siblings. Awkwardly, I am the only one without my own children… no pressure haha. I do have a wonderful collection of nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews though, over 30 actually. Being an aunty rocks my world outside of my two jobs.”
“I love superhero movies: Iron Man, Thor, Wolverine, Magic Mike (he wears a costume, it counts). My favourite childhood movie is The Lion King. So much so, that my husband and I eloped to Africa to get married 5 years ago. We tented across the Serengeti and got stuck in an actual wilder beast stampede. It was totally amazing. We climbed mountains and hung out with gorillas in Rwanda and hung our bodies over the edge of Victoria Falls and stared down that thundering waterfall at Devils Pool. That 4 week adventure with my husband is currently ranking as the highlight of my life so far. Now we spend our spare nights on the couch keeping up to date with the latest fad series. Life hasn’t always been a straight line but it has been a lifelong series of small awesomes in getting to know myself and my limits.”
“On weekends, when I’m not standing at my own stall with The Ladybird Market, I’m generally shopping at them haha The Ladybird Market always bring the goods. Plus, it’s like giving twice when you buy from a local maker. The maker does a happy dance at being able to share their passion and a giftee receives a beautiful one off artisan product. It’s a real buzz.”
“terrAIRium might audibly sound familiar, but upon closer inspection you’ll notice that it’s not really your typical terrarium. Firstly, there is an emphasis on the AIR because the focus of these concepts is exclusively on the AIR plant (tillandsia). Secondly, you’ll notice that these creative concepts are completely bone dry and free of any dirt. This is because the AIR plant grows above ground, not in the ground and typically does not thrive well on a constantly wet surface. So what we have instead, is an artistically curated space, laid with a bed of dry stones, a carefully arranged display of naturally dried flowers and a special awareness for the one growing air plant in each semi-contained concept. terrAIRium is essentially the air plants very own interior stylist.”
“As well as the more traditional glass looking concepts, terrAIRium (that’s me) has hand designed an open-air range of concepts comprised of a concrete bowl, hand poured by yours truly and a surrounding geometric wire frame that is handmade here in Perth. The wire frames are very minimalistic in design, are powder coated and come in a range of silhouette shapes. This range is ideal for the AIR plant because it allows unrestricted air space for the air-loving plant at all times. This range is unique to terrAIRium and because the components are made locally, it means you can have your very own personalised colour combination to suit specific requests anytime. White bowl/white frame. Black bowl/gold frame etc. This range is a real modern gem. I have so much fun playing with and creating new silhouette concepts. It’s even therapeutic to a degree.
Every purchased pet, I mean concept, comes with a mini misting vial to water the air plant and a mini information booklet packed to the brim with information to help understand the air plant and why it needs what it needs. Because you can never be armed with too much information.”
“I am in my 15th year of work at a ceramic tile shop that I consider to be my Clark Kent day job. Tiles by day/terrAIRiums by night. I love love love creating my terrAIRiums by night but I do also love my day job and my work colleagues are my second family. The support I get from this crew on the daily is just a constant inspiration and motivator. A lot of my experiences through this day job have nurtured that creative spark I now apply to my terrAIRiums. I am exposed to new designs and trends through the tile store as we assist with colour selections for new build customers. Matching and playing with cupboard laminates and tiles in textures, patterns, colours, creating a myriad of beautiful combinations for our building customers, whilst also being spatially aware of each room for functionality and not just aesthetics. This is all what I now apply to my terrAIRiums.”
“We have a lot of succulent based businesses here in Perth and so the air plant is very often mistaken as a succulent. It’s no fault of anyone’s, it’s just that there isn’t as much exposure and common knowledge for the atmospheric air plant here locally but it is gaining traction. So when I get to tell people that my terrAIRiums are not a terrarium and that the living plant they are looking at is not a succulent, I get a small kick out of their reaction. Particularly when I lift the air plant up and the customer thinks I’ve just plucked a growing plant out of the ground, only for them to see that there are no roots and it was just resting there the whole time hahaha.”
“Then I get to unleash all of my bottled up air plant knowledge on them, that I have gained from self-research and experience. I mean the air plant is a truly remarkable showmanship of botanical evolution and they fascinate the heck out of me, I really love sharing their peculiar traits with others. Because really… a floating plant HA! The air plant itself is a unique and emerging rock star of our plant kingdom (and terrAIRium).”
“Discovering Perth’s local handmade community has been the greatest aspect of the biz so far. Perth is full of beautiful consciously minded makers. Learning all of the intricate details that make them who they are and seeing that their product is a passionate extension of themselves creates such an encouraging environment. There is such a supportive network of artisans in Perth and it isn’t competitive at all. It’s just pure respect and appreciation for all being in the same boat together and pushing each other forward. Some of the best opportunities have come from establishing these fun relationships with local and like-minded makers. Being able to collaborate with other makers is more like a play date than ‘working’.”
Renea’s large Diamond Silhouette is her favourite item from her collection “Have you seen it? I don’t even know why every household doesn’t have one yet haha. I saw a geometric candle holder in one of those token $2 shops you see around shopping centres and my creative drive just went into this impromptu design spasm. “If I tilt that section, remove this section, extend that bit, join that bit, reconfigure the lines and then attach them at that point…” I had basically done a Transformers number on this wire candle holder and turned an old autobot into a hot set of Camero wheels. So I purchased this said wire candle holder, that I was mentally deconstructing, took it home and set out to bring this design to life. Then I poured and cured and poured and cured quite a few concrete bowl prototypes to suit this evolving concept until I got it right. I was so excited to turn this (very rough looking) prototype into the diamond concept it is today. It’s my signature piece and I’m so proud of it. The wire and concrete planter comes in two sizes, the small 10x20cm and the large 20x40cm. The large one definitely has the WOW factor on its side. It embodies a sense of minimalism in its clean lines but has this strikingly versatile appeal to it. It is modern and edgy, with a hint of classic drama whilst also being a bit rustic and industrial. It lends itself to so many different styling schemes. It is as multi-faceted as a well cut diamond is itself. Now tell me it’s not your favourite too.”
“Some of you avid air plant lovers will already be aware of this but to those that are unaware, there is a current air plant ban in Australia, two years strong come this November actually. Sounds bad but thankfully it is more of a precautionary ban. Air plants are native to the United States, in varied regions where a virus called Xylella Fastidiosa is prevalent. All native plants (not just air plants) from known U.S. risk areas have been placed on a precautionary checklist until they can be disproven as carriers of this virus. So on appearance, the air plant is deemed guilty until proven innocent. This virus is a silent killer to soft wood trees like grape vines and I don’t know about you but I LIKE WINE. This virus eats the wood from the inside out and the damage is practically irreversible once the signs of this virus start to appear. So unless you are willing to risk the supply of our bottled fruit juice (cough*wine) it is important to adhere to our Australian Customs criteria for the importation and even interstate transportation of air plants.”
“As you can imagine, this air plant ban does substantially limit my market audience to pretty much just Western Australia. Which is a shame really because air plants are so cool, but in the same token it does add a bit of flavour to the story of air plants and creates a sort of niche market for them here in W.A.. Not everybody wants to spend their spare time hunting all over town for an elusive supply of air plants and generally, there isn’t an abundance of them accessible to us in W.A. to make a full time go of it either, so terrAIRium is purely a hobby sized business for now.”
“I have more recently adopted a selection of faux air plants for interstate customers, which has been a great work-around solution during the air plant ban. Interstate customers now have an immediate plant to display in their terrAIRium until they can source their own local supply of living air plant/s to put in their terrAIRium concept/s. It turns out that not everyone wants a real living plant either and the faux plant option has attracted the odd local customer too which is great to be able to offer this.”