The Perennial Institute is an experimental education project exploring creativity through the lens of plants. Based in Berlin, we follow seasonal creative cues including a period of dormancy from January to April each year until better cultural conditions present themselves in spring and summer. We are always delighted by new opportunities to expand our explorations into gardens, kitchens, galleries and homes around the world.
Berlin Summer program
In 2018, over a 6 day program, artists and designers from Europe, America, Brazil and Australia gathered in Berlin. Plants were our teachers and our classrooms were the parks and gardens of the city. We engaged in co-learning, co-creation, and collaboration through cooking, scent distillation and urban foraging. We placed emphasis on embodied experiences, experiential learning, feminine and intuitive approaches by forest bathing, making urban ikebana and creating memory drawings and maps. To complete the program, participants produced offerings that were given to local plants.
Participants: Akasha Lawrence-Spence, Anais Hazo, Caique Tizzi, Emma Theyers, Eva Kozanecka, Leo Ayres, Lilia Luganskaia, Jessica Herman, Kristy Millikin, Maria Kozanecka, Whitney Flores.
Project leads: Jai McKenzie, Julka Almquist.
Archivist: Tegan Emerson
Photography: Lilia Luganskaia
Day 1: Sensory Tuning in Tiergarten followed by Scent Distillation with Scent Club Berlin & Tobias Esselborn.
We started the program by tuning into our bodies, our senses and the plants around us through Shoring-yoku (forest bathing) in Tiergarten. Moving from the space within to the infrathin we explored olfactory sensations during a scent distillation of seasonally abundant Basil and Lavender. An improvised, collaborative journey through scent production resulted in the transformation of Basil into ‘Corn Farmer’, a fragrance with an evocative backstory.
Seeing with new eyes
An urban foraging tour allowed participants to see with new eyes and gain a fresh awareness of local plants. With this new awareness we collaboratively cooked foraged plants from Hasenheide park while sharing personal histories, stories and relationships to food.
The process liberated all participants from the intellectual, perceptual, and visual processing traps that can lead to plant blindness.
The next day, with our ‘new eyes’ we were transformed, seeing and experiencing plants in different ways while at the Berlin Botanical Garden. A morning tour with a botanist helped us ‘read plants’, later a lecture on Floriography introduced us to the language of flowers. We ended the day with a walk through the garden, finally resting to draw our memories and journeys.
On this day we were introduced to the principles of Ikebana. Refocusing our attention toward the ruderal green in Hasenheide park we foraged for vines, sticks, flowers or anything else that caught our eye. Satoka Hatayama encouraged us to ‘speak’ to the plants and see if they wish to come with us to be arranged throughout Floating University Berlin as free style urban ikebana.