CASA PROTEA

WE ARE HAPPY TO INTRODUCE TO YOU CASA PROTEA, A PLANT COLLECTORS STUDIO CREATED BY JESÚS AND PANCHO. THEY OPENED ITS DOORS IN BARCELONA IN 2017 AS A MEETING PLACE FOR PLANT LOVERS.

CASA PROTEA WAS BORN FROM THE SHARED ENTHUSIASM FOR BOTANY AND THE LINK IT CREATES BETWEEN THEM AND THE SPACE THEY INHABIT.

YOU CAN FIND THEM AT C/ RAMÓN Y CAJAL, 08024 BARCELONA
AND AT @casaprotea

1. HOW CASA PROTEA WAS BORN?

Casa Protea is the project behind Jesús and Pancho, two passionate plant collectors. Casa Protea was prompted by our shared enthusiasm for botany and the link it creates between us and the space we inhabit. We met seven years ago in an Art Gallery in Santiago de Chile, where Jesús used to work. After a few laughs and some piscolas (a typical Chilean long drink made with pisco and cola) at the bar around the corner we became inseparable. When we started living together we realized we both had a close relationship with plants. We like to think that Casa Protea put down its first roots in our tiny apartment in Santiago, where we managed to accommodate more than 200 plants.

2. WHAT DOES YOUR PROJECT CONSIST OF? WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY LIKE?

Casa Protea Plant Collectors Studio opened its doors in Barcelona in August 2017 as a meeting place for plant lovers. We work with a wide variety of species: tropical plants, cacti and other succulents and air plants being most prominent. In selecting each specimen we look at properties such as age, unique shape or rarity. We use the word “casa” (the Spanish word for home) because rather than as a shop or studio it has been conceived as a gathering place for the transfer of information, the exchange of knowledge and the sharing of our interests with others. We work on various creative projects that are invariably rooted in passion and fascination with botany. We offer services such as interior design with plants; advisory and plant care services; creation and maintenance of gardens or floral decoration. Each project is an extension of our daily activity, of what we like to do, and a reflection of how we live enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

Our day starts early in the morning, around 7 AM. The first thing we do is having a quick shower to really wake up. We try to practice yoga at least three times a week -ideally before breakfast when possible but most probably at the end of the day- this really helps us to stay focused. At 11:30 AM we open the studio. When we arrive the first thing we do is to put some music on and look over each plant to make sure all of them are happy. We divide our jobs at some point in the day and while one of us is sitting answering emails and finishing proposals, the other one is helping clients that visit us. The shop is closed on Mondays, so Mondays usually are for plant hunting. We take our van and seek new growers to find new unique specimens.  

3. WHEN DID YOUR INTEREST IN BOTANY BEGIN?

Although our educational background, in Art and Architecture, seems to be far away from the vegetal world, we both have a common heritage: the passion of our grandmothers. They were keen gardeners and collectors of a huge variety of species. We owe them our understanding of the lengthy and extraordinary growth track of a cactus, from seed to flower, or the importance of cuttings for propagation. So actually both of us had an early interest in botany in quite a natural way.

4. WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU HAVE LEARNED ABOUT BOTANIC?

Above all we have learned to cultivate patience. It is crucial to understand the cyclic rhythm of nature. The more you know the more you get fascinated with plants. A fact we are really curious right now is to find out which plants are winter growers. Some succulent species rest during summertime, this is the case of one of our favorites Kleinia neriifolia, a plant native to the Canary Islands.

5. AT SAYE, WE SUPPORT AND HELP WITH REFORESTATION SINCE OUR BEGINNINGS. IN OUR DAILY LIFE, WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO HELP WITH THE CAUSE ON A SMALL SCALE?

We are really happy to see how every day more people are getting aware of the importance of taking care of the environment. Supporting brands like SAYE that help to improve nature is key to the way we consume. Also adding some greenery to your daily spaces such as your home or workplace has its benefits. Of course, we know they make look spaces nicer and help to improve our wellbeing but furthermore they help to purify the air we breathe. Most of us can’t have a forest at home but we can always have our little urban jungle.

1. How Casa Protea was born?

Casa Protea is the project behind Jesús and Pancho, two passionate plant collectors. Casa Protea was prompted by our shared enthusiasm for botany and the link it creates between us and the space we inhabit. We met seven years ago in an Art Gallery in Santiago de Chile, where Jesús used to work. After a few laughs and some piscolas (a typical Chilean long drink made with pisco and cola) at the bar around the corner we became inseparable. When we started living together we realized we both had a close relationship with plants. We like to think that Casa Protea put down its first roots in our tiny apartment in Santiago, where we managed to accommodate more than 200 plants.

2. What does your project consist of? What is a typical day like?

Casa Protea Plant Collectors Studio opened its doors in Barcelona in August 2017 as a meeting place for plant lovers. We work with a wide variety of species: tropical plants, cacti and other succulents and air plants being most prominent. In selecting each specimen we look at properties such as age, unique shape or rarity. We use the word “casa” (the Spanish word for home) because rather than as a shop or studio it has been conceived as a gathering place for the transfer of information, the exchange of knowledge and the sharing of our interests with others. We work on various creative projects that are invariably rooted in passion and fascination with botany. We offer services such as interior design with plants; advisory and plant care services; creation and maintenance of gardens or floral decoration. Each project is an extension of our daily activity, of what we like to do, and a reflection of how we live enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

Our day starts early in the morning, around 7 AM. The first thing we do is having a quick shower to really wake up. We try to practice yoga at least three times a week -ideally before breakfast when possible but most probably at the end of the day- this really helps us to stay focused. At 11:30 AM we open the studio. When we arrive the first thing we do is to put some music on and look over each plant to make sure all of them are happy. We divide our jobs at some point in the day and while one of us is sitting answering emails and finishing proposals, the other one is helping clients that visit us. The shop is closed on Mondays, so Mondays usually are for plant hunting. We take our van and seek new growers to find new unique specimens.  

3. When did your interest in botany begin?

Although our educational background, in Art and Architecture, seems to be far away from the vegetal world, we both have a common heritage: the passion of our grandmothers. They were keen gardeners and collectors of a huge variety of species. We owe them our understanding of the lengthy and extraordinary growth track of a cactus, from seed to flower, or the importance of cuttings for propagation. So actually both of us had an early interest in botany in quite a natural way.

4. What is the most interesting thing you have learned about botanic?

Above all we have learned to cultivate patience. It is crucial to understand the cyclic rhythm of nature. The more you know the more you get fascinated with plants. A fact we are really curious right now is to find out which plants are winter growers. Some succulent species rest during summertime, this is the case of one of our favorites Kleinia neriifolia, a plant native to the Canary Islands.

5. At SAYE, we support and help with reforestation since our beginnings. In our daily life, what tips would you recommend to help with the cause on a small scale?

We are really happy to see how every day more people are getting aware of the importance of taking care of the environment. Supporting brands like SAYE that help to improve nature is key to the way we consume. Also adding some greenery to your daily spaces such as your home or workplace has its benefits. Of course, we know they make look spaces nicer and help to improve our wellbeing but furthermore they help to purify the air we breathe. Most of us can’t have a forest at home but we can always have our little urban jungle.

6. How was your experience of writing your first book? What’s about?

“Me quiere, no me quiere” (Love me, love me not) was a commissioned work from the publishing house Zentih. We received it a few months after the launch of Casa Protea and we were thrilled about the idea of writing our first book. We also took all the pictures and Pancho did the illustrations. “Me quiere, no me quiere” is a book full of stories, anecdotes and useful information about plant care. Through its pages we share our own experiences and knowledge about tropical plants, air plants, cacti and other succulent plants. We also include step-by-step DIY tutorials where we explain how to create from a macramé plant hanger to organic homemade fertilizers. In short, it is a basic guide for anyone who wants to get started in the fascinating world of plants and their care.

7. What plant books would you recommend?

We love the books “House of plants” and “Root Nurture Grow” by the London duo RoCo about plant care and propagation. For other matters like plants intelligence we would go for any publication by Stefano Mancuso. And to get inspired we recommend the last publication of Kinfolk, “The Kinfolk Garden”.

8. How do you see Casa Protea in the future? What will be your next steps?

We have always been seduced to the idea of growing our own plants, in fact, with some help we have started to grow some species that were not easy to find in the market. We don’t have much time to spare on that but it is a part of our daily schedule that gives us plenty of joy. Another of our long-term projects is to own a piece of land and build a little cabana and surround it with an incredible cactus collection.

6. HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF WRITING YOUR FIRST BOOK? WHAT’S ABOUT?

“Me quiere, no me quiere” (Love me, love me not) was a commissioned work from the publishing house Zentih. We received it a few months after the launch of Casa Protea and we were thrilled about the idea of writing our first book. We also took all the pictures and Pancho did the illustrations. “Me quiere, no me quiere” is a book full of stories, anecdotes and useful information about plant care. Through its pages we share our own experiences and knowledge about tropical plants, air plants, cacti and other succulent plants. We also include step-by-step DIY tutorials where we explain how to create from a macramé plant hanger to organic homemade fertilizers. In short, it is a basic guide for anyone who wants to get started in the fascinating world of plants and their care.

7. WHAT PLANT BOOKS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?

We love the books “House of plants” and “Root Nurture Grow” by the London duo RoCo about plant care and propagation. For other matters like plants intelligence we would go for any publication by Stefano Mancuso. And to get inspired we recommend the last publication of Kinfolk, “The Kinfolk Garden”.

8. HOW DO YOU SEE CASA PROTEA IN THE FUTURE? WHAT WILL BE YOUR NEXT STEPS?

We have always been seduced to the idea of growing our own plants, in fact, with some help we have started to grow some species that were not easy to find in the market. We don’t have much time to spare on that but it is a part of our daily schedule that gives us plenty of joy. Another of our long-term projects is to own a piece of land and build a little cabana and surround it with an incredible cactus collection.

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