“Rich” and “elegant” are not the kinds of words you often associate with plant fertiliser. In fact, any quick tour through your local gardening centre is likely to reveal rows and rows of industrial-size yellow bottles, plastic tubs, and lots of type brandishing the words “all-purpose”. This couldn’t be a further cry from the interestingly luxurious direction Paris-based Leslie David Studio has taken on a new line of plant fertiliser, Sowvital. The product is based on the premise of self-care for plants. But, rather than staying earthy and home-grown with visuals, Leslie David has positioned Sowvital closer to the embossed elegance of a coveted cosmetic line – a product that looks more suited to a bathroom cabinet than a kitchen sink cupboard.
Founder Leslie David tells us that the idea for the product came from the lack of high quality, completely vegan and environmentally conscious houseplant fertiliser for green-fingered buyers. “We surprisingly learned that traditional industrial fertilisers, typically derived from blood, fish, bone and manure, can contain traces of antibiotics, steroids and pathogens.” Aiming to create a new “plant care” area of the market, Sowvital allows gardeners to take care of their house plants in a ritual-like manner – much like a beauty routine. Alongside envisioning the brand as a whole, Leslie David Studio worked on everything including the logo, typography, imagery, campaign, website and illustrations.
It’s a hefty undertaking, but you reap what you sow, and on Sowvital, the studio made sure to implant a boggling array of visual references into the DNA of the brand, all plucked from strange, artistic corners of planting history. “We’ve been quite frantically looking at a lot of vintage gardening books, technical manuals, old botanical drawings,” says Leslie. “We also looked at a lot of fan zines, small editions from the 70s, as the houseplant was having a big moment at this time.” As a project made with plant wellbeing in mind, the marvellous psychedelic album for plants Plantasia naturally played a part in inspiring the work, particularly feeding into some of the illustrations on the work.
While a lot of these references are plucked from the past, the studio’s idea was to mix vintage inspirations with today’s beauty approach. These sleeker facets crop up through shiny 3D modelling details and plant timelapses from Chad Chud. Meanwhile, the studio wanted to allude to luxury with a smooth, dark olive frosted glass for bottles. “We wanted to create products that really feel nice to use even if sustainable, something elegant enough not to have to hide it like we usually do with our cleaning or plant products.”
Finally, Leslie David developed a brand symbol that reinterprets cross-section botanical drawings, showing the innards of a leaf “in a very schematic way”. “The quite mysterious symmetrical shape came [together] quite fast, we like the fact it was creating a kind Rorschach test, pointing [to] the ambiguity of flowers,” says Leslie. To complete the work for Sowvital, Leslie David worked with Nod Nod studio to create a website home to a range of useful information on plants; alongside photographers Charle Nègre, Arnaud Lebrazidec and Louisa Ben on shoots for the brand.
Looking forward, Leslie explains that the potential for Sowvital is wide open. “It’s a new segment so there are many things to explore and it was quite exciting to be able to think about an identity for a brand that doesn’t have (almost) any competitors yet on the market.” Sowvital products are currently available in a routine of three fertiliser products on its website.
GalleryLeslie David Studio: Sowvital, website by Nod Nod, photography by Charle Nègre / Arnaud Lebrazidec / Louisa Ben (Copyright © Leslie David Studio, 2022)
Leslie David Studio: Sowvital, website by Nod Nod, photography by Charle Nègre / Arnaud Lebrazidec / Louisa Ben (Copyright © Leslie David Studio, 2022)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.