Dark apartments and flourishing indoor greenery aren't mutually exclusive, but they aren't really friends. For winter times or studios with nowhere-facing windows, real plants can take more technology than a green thumb. Much like my recent gripe about SAD lights, I've been surprised at the lack of attractive small scale systems for plant care. There are zillions of chintzy DIY herb gardens out there, but most don't take light into account and do assume you desperately need handholding to find things like basil seeds. There are also plenty of ideas for "discreet home hydroponics" systems out there. All this to say there are options, but if you don't have room or patience for utilitarian plastic hoods, bulky fluorescents, or complicated orchid tanks, the options do get slim.
The four examples I've found for compact and nicely designed indoor plant lighting systems are each a bit different, but each take on the issues of space-saving, very clean lines, and (above all) providing useful light to real life houseplants.
The first is the Kusamono light designed by Florent Corier. It's a bit bigger than many small apartments might initially want to make space for. However I'd argue that it's lean shape and slim profile make it a better fit for dorms, living rooms, offices, and other wide spaces that you're likely to have an underutilized wall or desk.
Newer on the scene is the brand Bulbo, who are making a niche out of design-minded plant lighting. Their Cynara lamp is a post-mounted bulb and reflector, intended to perch in the same pot as your plant itself. Its color scheme and form would be at home in your pinteresting abode, and the 7 watt bulb incorporates the three tone red/white/blue light scheme that helps simulate outdoor light for better growing. They also make pole lengtheners in case you switch plants, or your green buddy grows too tall for the light.
Bulbo Cynarra, small and large
Bulbo's standalone option is the Quadra, which more directly takes on the issues with boring and badly designed home growing stations. Most domestic options are plasticky, bulky, too-small for many houseplants, and awkward to adjust. The Quadra uses the same bulbs as most small grow kits, but with a drastically improved adjustment system that bumps the height easily, while also allowing for wall- and ceiling-fixed positions. It also comes in the contemporarily beloved white metal/light wood scheme, which won't fuck up your neutral Norwegian modern aesthetic.
Bulbo Quadra, small
Bulbo Quadra wall mounting ideas
Similarly boxy yet versatile, Modern Sprout has a light box that's a bit more contained. Or just folks with plants who need more moisture. Their unit is a mostly closed greenhouse, and a clean example of a self-contained light box that wouldn't look jarring in a well appointed home or office. It can be used both standalone or wall-hanging. The full spectrum LED, multiple timer settings, and boxed-in design would work well for needy cacti or moisture hungry tropical ferns. Choice of lighting levels and an on/off timer let you set it for your green friends' daily needs. Seriously, why is this rare.
Modern Sprout Growhouse
I'd love to see lighting systems like these that also incorporate watering etc. but I have yet to see any that doesn't require proprietary seed discs or a fundamental misunderstanding of why people grow things indoors. In that vein, I have three honorable mentions.
Green Farm Cube
The Green Farm Cube is an intriguing and idealistic option for countertop herb tending. It uses a static water chamber and enclosed system to feed seeds, and offers a digital take on vague stats like when your sprouts might be ready to eat. It's intended to be used for microgreens and quick growing herbs, which could make my squinting about the sprouting timeframe unnecessary. All in all it's a cool enclosed system that wouldn't look like garbage on a counter, provided it earns its keep.
Green Light, I could have loved you
The Green Light, designed by Linda Bergroth and produced by Kekkilä, gets at the heart of what I really want. The height is adjustable with a simple pin, and the tray features a lip that makes spilling and drainage a non-issue. The colorway was clean and Scandi. Good lighting, good looking, and I'm pretty irritated they aren't easily found anymore.
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Similarly, Fiskars' forray into self-contained herb gardens had a good deal of promise: a well balanced LED light, a self watering chamber, and a cool sliding enclosement that could help warmth-seeing plants. It looks like a popcorn maker but will grow your wheatgrass, maybe a little cramped but a good start. Sadly for me, it won a Red Dot and retired to let their kitchen knives have all the glory.
Did I miss anything awesome or obvious? My plants and I are a little fatigued.