Evocative of fairy-laden forests and hygge-inspired interiors, the allure of real moss installations as a green feature has only just begun to mushroom onto the design scene. One look at a once blank wall adorned in lush, vibrant, all-natural, sustainable and maintenance-free moss, and you’ll awaken your inner nature lover.
Moss-As-Art has a way of growing on you. Although technically it doesn’t. The innovators at the KC-based Fat Plant Society have figured out how to preserve American-grown Reindeer and Pillow Moss using a proprietary mixture of paraffin, glycerin and vegetal dye to ensure it stays green—no watering or misting required. You get all the benefits of its biophilic powers without any hassle. (A real step up from your office’s dead potted plants or hotel’s living wall with its mandatory soil and expensive watering system.)
“It’s a well-established fact that humans need nature,” say Morten Klinte and Kasey Laine Riley, founders of The Fat Plant Society. “Biophilic design adds these elements to the building industry and urban environments to increase the health, environmental, and economic benefits for its occupants.”
This husband-wife team is passionate about all things green and timeless design, so moss installation is a natural outgrowth. They’re one of only a few companies in the U.S. installing framed moss and other moss-media.
“Our moss is primarily harvested in North Carolina and Kentucky and is known for its hardiness and complexity,” Kasey says.
Their work is featured in the U.S. and Canada and includes hotels and firms with local installations including PORT KC, River Market Dental, The John A. Marshall Company and Rosin Preservation at the Crossroads.
Morten and Kasey founded The Fat Plant Society in 2016, locating it in Kansas City for its kindness and giving it a name reminiscent of the botanical societies of the late 1800s that emphasized community and continuing education.
The story of how these two met and joined forces seems serendipitous yet destined. Danish-born Morten met Kasey in Malaysia while Kasey lived in Beijing. They married after only two weeks. Morten grew up in Copenhagen, graduated from Roskilde University, and worked in sales for The Kansas City Star before following his love of plants to KC’s Family Tree Nursery where he completed his “plant apprenticeship.”
“He amassed incredible knowledge and skill during that time along with the requisite confidence to experiment with organic materials,” Kasey says.
Kasey graduated from the University of Iowa, taught advertising/public relations at Avila University, earned her master’s degree from UMKC and was Director of Communications for Johnson County Libraries for nearly 10 years.
They lived in Copenhagen twice before launching their local business.
“Copenhagen is a wonderful, beautiful city,” they say, “It was invaluable for inspiration and perspective, but Kansas City beckoned. We returned as the Royals headed toward the 2016 World Series. Kansas City is the kind of city you can lose your wallet in three times and have it returned to you with everything intact. But more than that, Midwestern values align with Scandinavian values. Pragmatic. No nonsense. Transparent. Kind.”
Most of their work is commissioned for commercial installations, but they’re seeing an uptick in residential projects, fueled by the pandemic and the public’s desire for green design.
“When the pandemic hit, we were concerned and assumed that greenery would be one of the first things to cut, but we’ve mostly seen the opposite,” they say. “Companies are working to create ‘destination spaces’ and improve interior spaces by incorporating nature.”
One notable installation at The River Market Dental includes repeating frames down the center hallway.
“We call it ‘Moss Avenue,’” Kasey says. “The repetition provides such visual interest it gives most people pause. (We credit Josue Montes for his brilliant input on its design concept.)”
One of The Fat Plant Society’s bestsellers is the Skinny Panel, available on their website for purchase.
“It’s one of our most popular designs as a green wall building block. Clients often start with two then add additional Skinny Panels over time.”
Kasey says their favorite customer response is not actually a word but rather a gasp of delight, a reaction that “never ceases to make us both beam.”
The workshop is located inside Picture and Framing Industries, Southwest Boulevard, KCKS. Visit thefatplantsociety.com to learn more.
Why Choose Moss?
Moss requires no dirt, watering or misting yet still eats up VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in the air like a sponge.
Moss is a natural softening and soundproofing material, capturing more than 90% of voice frequencies.
Moss is resistant against cold-cracking and heat-aging.
Moss retains color for at least 10 years, likely longer.
Moss needs no light so it can go in windowless rooms.
Moss is lightweight and easy to install.
Moss is beautiful to behold as art!