MINI LIVING 'Forests' Installation by Asif Khan




Times Vary, See Below



Landmark Project

A three-part installation that explored architectural solutions to urban living as part of the brand’s MINI LIVING project. Three forest bathing spaces filled with plants were inserted into Shoreditch’s busy city streets, offering locals places to connect create and relax.

MINI partnered with designer Asif Khan to continue its MINI LIVING programme — an exploration of architectural solutions to urban living challenges that kicked off in 2016 at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. While the debut installation explored forms of collaborative living, the follow-up in London addressed the need for a functional and flexible network of ‘third places’ in the urban environment. “Given the trend of urban densification we need to tap urban potentials in creative ways,” explained Oke Hauser, Creative Lead of MINI LIVING. “Given the amount of left-over public space we need to ask: how can we activate this spatial innercity potential and turn it into contributing functions for the urban community?”

MINI LIVING scanned London for spatial potentials within the public realm and identified a network of three exemplary locations of underused public spaces within the city fabric. These locations served as the basis for the MINI LIVING “Third Places” concept and its interpretation by Asif Khan. Asif Khan designed a family of architectural installations called “Forests” using plants to explore the relationship between public and private space in the city. The designs speculated on the possibilities of “third places” as described by sociologist Ray Oldenburg; places which “host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work.” Around Shoreditch, visitors could find a series of ‘forest’ environments each holding miniature forests populated by plants which visitors could take home during the Festival. Established Horticulturalist Jin Ahn of the Conservatory Archives in Hackney curated the plant life at the installations.

Three architectural installations with different interior landscapes and plant life were inserted on nearby sites in Shoreditch’s busy city streets, offering visitors a temporary network of “third places” to connect, create and relax in an immersive atmosphere. Although each space was open to different types of activity, the layout also enabled the hosting of specific events during the Festival. In the square next to Shoreditch Fire Station a long communal table was installed, encouraging visitors to meet and interact. Not far away in Charles Square stepped seating served as a place for visitors to work in quiet surroundings. Finally, the junction of Old Street and Pitfield Street featured an elevated room that offered passers-by a secluded green room in the city.

MINI invited the Festival visitors to use the installations as extensions of their private space and to link the public and the private by taking plants home, growing them in their own homes and sharing their plant’s progress on social media.

Khan said, “There is a Japanese phrase ‘shinrin yoku’, which literally means ‘forest bathing’. It means every sense switches to absorb the forest atmosphere, what you hear, what you smell, even the feeling underfoot. At another scale we use plants as a tool to assert our personal space at its boundary with public space, whether on our desk at the office or at the perimeter of our home. The project brings these two ideas together for visitors to experience new sensations within the city.”

Jin Ahn said, “Every day in London we can see the efforts and abilities of plants in the city. In our project, two of these qualities will shine through at a larger scale – the compelling aesthetic pleasure of plants and their ability to connect people.”

London Design Festival

Over nine days in September, the London Design Festival feature hundreds of events taking place across London, showcasing the city's pivotal role in global design. The London Design Festival 2018 will be held 15-23 September, featuring over 400 Partners, Landmark Projects, and V&A Commissions.

Principal Supporter

Major Supporters

Headline Partner