Plantui grows gardens in urban homes
Designer Janne Loiske loves cooking and used to dream about growing herbs in his home. When travelling abroad, he encountered various indoor gardens but they were neither easy to use nor pleasant to look at. He needed to invent a better one.
“I wanted an indoor garden that is easy to use, wash and maintain. I also wanted to create a smart, beautifully designed device,” says Janne Loiske, the founding partner of Plantui.
Loiske is an experienced designer and has worked with many big brands, including Iittala, Fiskars and Nokia. He began developing his smart garden while still running his own design agency.
From the smart garden sprouted a new company. Founded in 2012, Plantui hired top gardeners to help develop the product. Sales started last summer.
“I believe that we stand on the verge of a radical change. In the future, consumers will grow vegetables at home. Right now many vegetables are grown far from the consumer, although it would be more ecological to grow them near. Producing food at home is our vision. It may take 10, 20 or 50 years, but we’re heading there,” says Loiske.
Plantui’s values include doing things well and in a sustainable manner. That includes manufacturing the smart gardens in Finland.
Violets, oregano and arugula
This is how it works. Once you have a Plantui smart garden, you choose the plants you want and buy them as seed capsules. The small, roundish garden has room for six plants. In addition to the seed capsules you add water and fertilizer. The crop will be ready to harvest in six weeks.
The smart garden is designed for all kinds of users, not only those with a green thumb. Its light is optimal for plants and it switches on and off automatically, providing the crop the dark resting period it needs. The garden’s smart irrigation system pumps water to the roots automatically. Despite all this, the garden consumes little electricity.
“Even when the garden is in continuous use, the power it uses costs less than 8 euros per year, thanks to LED lamps among other things,” Loiske says.
Plantui’s business model is built on the combination of smart gardens and seed capsules. Its plant selection currently includes herbs, salad greens and edible flowers, for example basil, coriander, violets and many Asian plants. Each seed capsule comes with selected nutrients to suit the plant’s needs.
Plantui has benefited from the growing popularity of gardening as well as the increasing interest in cooking and locally produced clean food. The company’s target groups also include urban people who are interested in design.
“We don’t have much direct competition at the moment. Many indoor gardens are designed to maintain store-bought plants, whereas our smart garden grows plants from seed. Similar products are likely to increase in the future, but I don’t see competition as a negative thing,” Loiske says.
“Our advantages are ease of use, optimized growth conditions and lights, superior technology and low energy consumption.”
Growing plants and Plantui
Plantui and its network of partners operate in Finland but its products are sold in a constantly growing area. Currently, its biggest markets are Germany and Denmark.
“Many people find our smart gardens in online stores but we are constantly expanding our traditional distribution network as well. Our definite goal is to reach beyond the European market, at least the American and Japanese markets – but in no hurry. We will manage our current markets as well as possible and only then step further.”
In Plantui’s vision, the smart garden represents stage one of the radical change. However, new products are on the way.
“We will probably launch our next product in the spring but we don’t want to reveal what it is yet. Plantui is a young company, but our goal is growth, naturally.”
And not only the growth of oregano and arugula but the company itself.
Text: Anu Jussila