For millions of years plants have been evolving and adapting to the environment and can be found living all across the planet from the driest deserts to in and around water. They have developed a range of survival strategies: some grow tall towards the sunlight, some have fleshy leaves to store water for times of drought whilst others have elaborate flowers to attract insects and birds to aid with pollination. The diverse and often beautiful plant kingdom has unsurprisingly been the inspiration for artists, designers and architects.

Flora object details

This exhibition explores how the shapes of flowers, fruits, nuts, vegetables, trees and leaves, aquatic and desert plants, grasses and grains, have inspired designers, working in plastics, to create products which are functional, decorative, practical and sometimes humorous.

The capabilities, colours and appearance of plastics materials are almost as diverse as the plant kingdom itself. There are plastics to suit every situation. Shown here are some of the textures, colours, differing strengths and forms that plastics can take depending on the requirements of the objects that they will become. Also on display are objects made from materials that use alternative plant-based resources, materials that mimic the way plants behave and materials that imitate plants.

Neither plant nor animal, fungi belong to a kingdom all of their own and are thought to be some of the oldest living organisms on earth. They can be found in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and have been a creative inspiration to many designers.

Flora complements an exhibition from 2012, Beastly Designs, which explored the influence of the animal kingdom on design and material innovation.

Vegetables >