The Santa Barbara company specializes in live art
During a morning swim, Tera Bashi effortlessly sliced her arms through the water while anticipating a spin at the end of the pool. As she turned around, she immediately felt her nose filling with water. An embarrassing feeling for most people, but not for Bashi; She didn’t mind it. In fact, she embraced it, and the feeling brought her back to her roots.
Bashi grew up on Oahu, Hawaii, and spent her childhood swimming in the ocean and frolicking in the woods, living an unstructured life alongside her parents, who were teachers. She believes her upbringing on Oahu naturally inspired her to create Lush Elements – a living art and design company that creates a variety of botanical installations for a variety of clients. Bash, CEO and lead designer of Lush Elements, said her mission is to bring the outdoors inside. “People really need plants. It’s our innate nature to live with plants,” she said.
From restaurants to offices to residential spaces, Lush Elements wants to replace empty areas and surfaces with plants. “My goal has been reached if you feel like you’re in an indoor space, but you’re surrounded by amazing outdoor things; “You feel better,” Bash said.
Bash began her work with plants in 2006 when she founded Terra Malia Designs, a design firm focused on floral and decorative designs. At that time, she worked part-time and devoted most of her energy to being a mother. In 2017, she rebranded her company as Lush Elements and focused solely on plants and their facilities. “It’s really fun to be the plant lady,” she said.
Many studies have found that plants have various positive effects on individuals, especially within indoor environments where the presence of nature is usually neglected. Some of the benefits of plants include sound absorption, improved air quality, improved climate, and improved well-being. Just as the plants remind Bash of her roots on Oahu, they take me back to my upbringing on Dos Pueblos Ranch—where I was surrounded by nature every day. But whether you grew up surrounded by plants or not, the positive feelings we feel when we’re around them are universal.
Bash and I met at the new headquarters of the Community Environmental Council (CEC) — a downtown Santa Barbara nonprofit dedicated to addressing climate change issues — where I’ve set up three Lush Elements installations. When I walked out the glass door, my eyes went to the green wall. My pupils bulge in awe at the sight and undeniably positive feeling when I focus on the focal point of the room—a large moss installation from Lush Elements, featuring the illuminated CEC logo at its center, which sits prominently on the first wall.
The wall is composed primarily of preserved moss. An interesting feature of this installation is dried dandelion flowers that Bashi faked herself while biking in the valley and placed on top of the moss to appear as if the flowers had been meticulously blown onto the piece. “I like anything in a piece that creates movement,” she said.
On the top floor of the CEC, Bash created a moss wall with the help of her 15-year-old daughter, Soleil. The moss starts out a light, muted color and turns into a dark forest green color. When looking at the piece, it is as if you are staring at a green forest from above. “It’s a little reminiscent of terrain,” Bash said.
Lush makes live and non-living plant formulations. Their services include Lush Air, Lush Living, Lush Patios, Lush Walls, Lush Plants, and Lush edibles (tower gardens). By scheduling an appointment with the team, Lush Elements can work with you to determine which plants and designs will work best with your desired space. Living walls thrive in spaces with better access to sunlight, while preserved leaf walls do well in dimly lit spaces. Bash may be the driver behind the company, but it doesn’t work alone – some installations require routine upkeep and upkeep. Cheryl Glenwinkle is their lead plant technician, along with Ali Perry, also a plant technician, and social media manager Sarah King.
Lush Elements mostly designs facilities for the Santa Barbara area, but has recently done some work for Netflix’s offices in Los Angeles. Basche also hopes to create sponsored pieces to bring Lush to every community possible. “For those of you who know the tremendous benefit of having plants in your environment, we invite you to consider sponsoring vital projects in our community by making Lush Elements pieces to benefit your nonprofit, favorite school, or other entity in need,” she later wrote. me in email.
While Bash would love to have one or both of her daughters take over the business one day, she doesn’t want to force them. “I don’t want to put any pressure on the girls, but that might be an option,” she said. When I asked Bashi how she maintains such a calm demeanor and stress-free lifestyle, she said it’s probably because she’s doing what she loves. “I always tell my daughters: ‘Just don’t worry about what you want to do when you grow up.’ “Just do what you’re really passionate about, and then the money will come,” she said.
When I asked her about her business goals, she emphasized growth and said, “I would like to see it grow and grow in ways beyond even my wildest dreams.” Educating people about the benefits of plants is one thing, but bringing life to a space is what Lush Elements is all about. “It’s not about work; It’s not about me; “It’s about all the talent and everyone you’ve attracted,” she said. “It’s about the lives we change every day.”
be seen lushelements.com.