The Cleanest and Greenest Work Desk Grows Fresh Air

June 21, 2013 by


Inside a massive building on the outskirts of one of the world’s most polluted cities, the air is clean — all thanks to three plants and one man.


Kamal Meattle is an Indian researcher whose lung capacity became severely impaired due to pollution in New Delhi. Driven to find a solution, he discovered that by placing certain plants in specific locations indoors, a building can actually grow fresh air. Meattle gave a TED talk on the phenomenon back in 2009.


Once employed, Meattle’s Delhi project significantly reduced eye irritation, respiratory symptoms, headaches and asthma among people working in the building.


What’s more, the idea inspired Julio Radesca, an industrial design student at the Design Academy Eindhoven in The Netherlands. Late last year, Radesca created what some have called “glorified cubicles” employing the same three-plant technique for growing fresh air as Meattle did in New Delhi. Appropriately, Radesca named his project Personal Fresh Air.




The concept is an attractive, minimalist desk with a plant-trimmed top. The three plants used by both Meattle and Radesca are Areca Palm, which converts carbon dioxide to oxygen, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, which does the same during the night, and Money Plant, which removes formaldehydes and similarly volatile airborne chemicals.


While the plants grow fresh air, they also provide privacy for each desk, replacing cubical walls. And because the desks are hydroponic and soil-less – they feature lightweight perlite instead – watering and cleanup times are drastically reduced. Efficiency, beauty and sustainability? That’s a work concept we can get behind.

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  • timerdude

    WOW! A healthy way to work, and a breath of clean thinking, too. Plants unstress those who are “thinkers of great ideas”, that pays back two-fold!

  • LazyGardenerNY

    Now if the plants could only do my paperwork….

  • StaplesPromoProducts

    Plants at the office are great. We call this cubicle gardening.

  • bloggingaustin

    Strange though– the original NASA air-cleaning plant research by Wolverton showed that the area of the plant between the lower stems and the soil/root line was crucial for absorbing pollutants, due to the microbes that thrived in the exposed soil (symbiotic with the plant’s root system). The microbes were essential in the chemical-reducing process. I wonder how much of the pollutant-reducing ability of the plants was reduced by the soil-less design of these desks.

  • Helge Knickmeier

    We do it on the similar way with just 2 polluSan Systems per Desk according to the NASA-Study of Prof.Wolverton.

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