“Make love, not war”. They don’t wear shirts and flower necklaces, but promote guerrilla warfare of plants and flowers. The idea comes from two Sicilian start uppers who made their dream come true, producing and distributing pencils sprouting calendula and pomegranate, which give (new) life to plants and aromatic herbs when bombed on a plot of land. Salvatore Martorina and Claudio Pitrolo, both in their thirties, love to research and experiment. Their project is called Grin (italianized word of green), because their mission is to show how to make nature arise anytime and anywhere by turning urban and non-urban spaces more and more green and eco-friendly. We like their idea, the way of thinking and communicating it, the fact of being revolutionary and innovative. We invited them to bomb our small courtyard with an explosive mix made of recycled paper and a selection of flower seeds and aromatic herbs. Rain, light and soil will do their work and we can’t wait to see our lawn/vegetable garden exploding and blooming.
Why Grin and where does the idea come from?
The business idea comes from the need to experiment a new green concept, which is easy and within everyone’s means, trying to implement the knowledge gained through our university studies. The English term “Grin” literally means “big smile”, reason why we made capital of this wordplay to express our green concept and our relationship with nature in general at best.
What is your mission?
The mission of Grin is to try and spread the culture of green urban spaces, as well as the pleasure of self-production. In fact, our initiatives and our products, supported by careful research, selection and testing activity, intend to renew the connection between nature and urban world, continuing the idea of salvaged materials, sustainability and fight against environmental degradation.
Planting pencils or throwing bombs of seeds and flowers is a strong marketing action plan. Simplicity awards even if the market of ideas is overstocked?
The market of ecological gadgets is in continuous evolution; both small producers and big brands are constantly searching for more and more innovative and eco-friendly products. In this perspective, our products represent the best thing the market has to offer at present, and this feature has been also confirmed by the numerous prizes and acknowledgements received over the years. For example the pencil-plant Sprout – a normal pencil that you plant in the soil once used up, which sprouts giving life to aromatic herbs or vegetables – has been nominated “Best green product 2013” and “Best promotional gadget 2014”.
Besides green articles, whom you are sole distributors of in Italy, did you create also items you produce yourself?
Between the different project and works in progress, the one with major success has been “PUF”, vegetable garden a handy box, a pocket-sized kit ideal for those who have limited space and time, but would like to take a stab at gardening comfortably in the city, on one’s own balcony or terrace.
Your philosophy is local products and self-production. Is it really that easy to recreate a small organic garden in the office or at home, even for those not having a green thumb?
We believe in the importance of local agriculture, direct sale and self-production since ever. There are definitely many good reasons for cultivating, but you also have to consider the difficulties to be faced. Taking care of plants takes indeed time to manure, re-pot, irrigate, shelter from cold or extreme heat. Therefore, it is better to foresee these difficulties before taking on a vegetable garden on the balcony.
You also take on this challenge for those young people that leave their hometowns discouraged. You think you will succeed even from southern Sicily?
Grin represents our challenge, a bet we believe we can win day after day. We achieved unexpected results in the last year or so, creating a commercial net that launched our products from north to south. Our project can be an example for young graduates who intend to rise up against a critical working situation forcing them to move.
Your scope also is the green design for public places. Which project aroused your enthusiasm most?
Green design is growing intensely, and even if it doesn’t specifically fall within our area of expertise, it already happened several times that we acted as “consultants” in order to bring a touch of nature into buildings or public places. We like recreating green scenarios by means of led lamps specifically used for indoor cultivations or covering entire walls with moss, a natural lichen that can be personalised as for colour and composition, which allows creating simple, low-maintenance vertical indoor gardens.
What kind of green ideas do you have in the pipeline?
A new series of completely “plantable” products is on its way, from memo books to greeting cards, from sugared almonds to fortune cookies, up to a fish tank where you can cultivate flowers and plants, besides having fish. Another interesting project is the eco-graffiti, mural paintings in cohabitation with the existing green or completely ecological, where the use of spray or paint has been entirely replaced by a natural and living element, such as musk. A creative art form against urban degradation, in order to redevelop facades or neighbourhoods where green has no space.
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