on Thursday, 04 June 2020. Posted in News

Interview with Indoor Garden Design Directors Ian Drummond, David Grace and Pippa Robinson celebrating 45 years of Success and Creativity.


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Tell us about how IGD was formed and its history.
ID: Indoor Garden Design was founded on 5th June 1975 by Ed Wolf who was really one of the pioneers in bringing interior landscaping to London following his horticultural background in the Netherlands. IGD has grown a lot since then when it was just Ed on his moped with 2 watering cans! We have a few more watering cans now and employ over 50 people.
DG: Ed was a graduate from Horticultural College in Aalsmeer but after meeting his future wife Brita, a florist, at Rochford’s nurseries whilst on placement and completing his degree, he chose to work as a buyer for a perfume house and then as a commodities trader in the City of London. After becoming bored of life in the City (actually, Ed openly admits he was a rubbish trader) he and Brita decided to start IGD. Running for the first few years from garages and a conservatory/greenhouse on the back of their house IGD quickly established itself as a pioneer in the interior landscaping world. Initially, IGD was solely a hydroculture company but gradually moved to soil-based plants to widen the quality and range of plants available to customers. As the company grew and expanded, it moved from a partnership to a Limited Company in 2001 and then when Ed and Brita were looking to retire in early 2013, Pippa, Ian and myself bought equal shares and now own a third each.
PR: I think that covers it all!
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 Ian Drummond, Pippa Robinson, David Grace
How did you each get involved in the industry/join IGD
PR: I studied Ecology and in my early 20s I was carrying out surveys on Flora and Fauna in North London Woodlands and maintenance in Highgate Cemetery. Whilst doing this I saw an Ad in a local Newspaper asking for “Ladies to maintain Tropical Plants in London” and thought ‘I can do that’! My interview was in the Cartoonist Pub at 7.30 am! I started work that day 😊. I worked Part-time for both sectors for a while. In 1986, I was asked to be more involved in the running of IGD and was also offered a permanent position heading the Haringey Conservation department. It was crunch time, but I loved working with Ed and couldn’t give that up, so this was the path I chose.
DG: Before joining IGD, I was a geography teacher working at a comprehensive school in inner London. I had known Ed and Brita through their daughter and worked for IGD during my summer holidays (the earliest being 1982) whilst studying at University. When I was looking to have a short break from teaching, Ed asked me to work for him full time. I said I would do it for a year….but here I am still, 31 years later!
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Ed Wolf
ID: One of my first earliest memories was being given house plants for my bedroom from my parents when I was around 4 years old, by 13 I was working part-time in a local florist. At 16 I started an apprenticeship with Ken Hayfords working on both floristry and interior landscaping, I then worked for a florist and garden centre underneath a pub in Primrose Hill before joining IGD as a maintenance technician 28 years ago.
What are each of your responsibilities within IGD
ID: I am the Creative Director and co-owner, so my main responsibilities are Design and sales and marketing but the 3 of really get involved in all aspects.
DG: Really, we have collective responsibility for all areas of running the company, however, I concentrate with Pippa on much of the day to day running and financial aspects of the business. Of course, new sales are also very important, I will work on new projects for some of our larger clients, clients based out of London and any of the larger or more technical installations that may be presented to us. Luckily, we have employed an excellent General Manager in Craig Edser and this has helped to take the pressure off over the last couple of years.
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PR: In general terms, we all share and are able to be involved in all areas of running the company.  Currently, I am often supporting the accounts department and working on operational aspects of the business with the team. I also love the exterior work that we do and the challenges that this brings, I still get a chance to specify and quote for new business.
What are the biggest changes you have seen in the industry?
DG: A much greater understanding from architects and designers and ultimately clients as to the power and importance of interior planting within an interior scheme. Up until relatively recently, plants were a bit of an after-thought. They are now, quite correctly, being seen as integral to a project and being considered in large scale built-in joinery at a very early stage. This helps to give the planting a permanence and sense of place. Also, the diversification and wider availability of many more plant species grown for the interiors market and especially containers have changed massively over the years, plus the use of living walls for interior spaces. 
PR: I think some of the biggest changes are right now, we need to be inventive with different ways of working.  In addition, the advancement of reducing the use of chemicals gives us all challenges on pest management and recycling.  These two areas can be brought together as our industry needs to work in a more environmentally friendly ways to use less chemicals and we are ensuring our staff are really well trained in order to maintain plants to keep them to a high standard for longer to reduce changes and waste.
ID: A big change I have seen is we now work in an industry that is fashionable, everyone is now obsessed with house plants and at long last believe in the benefits of having plants in the workplace or at home!
What is your fondest memory at IGD/proudest moment?
ID: So many! I would start with TEAMIGD we are so lucky to have such a wonderful team around us! I would then say 2009! Our first year at Chelsea flower show, our first Bafta, Our first London Fashion Week and our first Elton John white tie and tiara ball! We had a busy year! I would also have to include my book At Home With Plants as it was always my dream to do this!
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London Fashion Week
DG: I am proud of the way we have remained independent especially after many of our competitors have been swallowed by the giant multi-national FM companies. We have been able to continue to provide a bespoke, customer focussed and innovative service that sets us apart from others. I have many, many wonderful memories of life at IGD and of all the amazing staff we have worked with over the years…. too many to just choose one!
PR: Bringing all the company together last year, at the University of Greenwich, to have a brainstorming day. It was really good to hear each and every individuals’ views about the company, how this sparked our staff’s interest in each other, how we need to work as a team to keep the company alive and fun to work for. There was so much info that came directly from our staff and from the professor who leads the Environmental Faculty, everyone was so interested in the lecture on Architecture/Biophilia/water recycling.  We all learnt a lot and it was clear that team days to bring all staff together especially those that work autonomously is so good for us all.
What are your favourite house plants?
PR: For many years, I had a policy of having no house plants - 4 kids, 3 dogs, managing a garden, an allotment, and working on my in-law’s farm meant my own house plants were just not looked after enough. Now the children are adults, their interest in indoor plants over the last couple of years has resparked my urge to have plants at home. This coupled with all the numerous species now available – we now have many plants and my particular favourite at the moment is Pilea peperomioides
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DG: Scindapsus (Epiprimnum) aureus and Dracaena surculosa.
ID: Whatever the plant is I am working on at the time! But I guess it would be the Vanda Orchids as I have worked on so many great projects with them, and they’re so beautiful!
What is your favourite garden?
DG: I have very fond memories when growing up on The Wirral of Ness Gardens near Chester and Bodnant Gardens near Conwy in North Wales. I love visiting The Eden Project in Cornwall with my family...however I think the Hortus Botanicus gardens in Leiden - one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world - are superb.
PR: My Father-in-Law’s. He is the best plantsman I know and a true gardener, he has a ¾ acre, which has evolved and developed over many years. We have had so many discussions around what to plant, where to plant and plenty of hard graft, so this garden has many happy memories. My favourite public garden is at Osbourne House on Isle of Wight – specifically the kitchen garden!
ID: Jardin Majorelle, Yves St Laurent Garden, Marrakech.
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What would you do differently if you knew then what you know now!
ID: Trust my instinct and just go with it!
DG: I think I would have placed significantly more value on the knowledge and experience that I have gained over my time in the industry - using it to have the confidence to lobby harder for interior planting before the world woke up to Biophilia.
PR: Definitely, studying more, keeping up to date on ecological issues and trying to be more environmentally friendly in the company sooner.
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Which person or company outside of the industry do you admire most and why?
ID: So many people starting with family and friends but in business, it would have to be Paul Smith. I love the brand, Design and everything it stands for.
“You can find inspiration in everything if you can’t then your not looking properly” Paul Smith. 
I read this and remind myself of this every day!
PR: I’m sorry I refuse to pick just one!  Al Gore remains a staunch leader in his unending quest to improve the global environment. To progress this we need a statesman, we can’t do enough from the ‘bottom-up’. It needs major help from the top down.
But for right now, there are also 3 women who I hold in highest esteem for the way they have handled, interacted and protected people in their country during this troubled time, Tsai Ing-wen, Angela Merkel and Jacinda Arden.
DG: I find this question very difficult to answer…there are many, many people outside of the industry from artists & musicians, politicians & community leaders, campaigners & activists to my builder and local café owner and of course my family who all deserve admiration. The ongoing pandemic has brought into stark focus how important it is to admire and recognise the talents of everyone in our society…. We all need each other.
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What plans do you have for the future of IGD?
PR: To continue to grow the IGD community and continue to review the way we work to see how we can diversify and improve what we do, reducing carbon footprint all the way. The more we can offer, the more we can gain - This brings interest to the company and attracts many different people from different backgrounds and interests.
DG: I would like to see IGD continuing to diversify – in terms of the services we are able to offer to our clients and also geographically. We have a fantastic team brimming with ideas and I would like us to give them the opportunity, confidence and resources to take their ideas forward to ensure we have another 45 years of growth and success.
ID: Remain the leading Interior landscaper in the UK and expand on our use of Electrical Vehicles! We are also just about to launch our new plant delivery service – plants to your desk or home! Keep a lookout for In-Tray Plants!
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IGD Team