Edmonds entrepreneur sells sustainable furniture, planters

  • Wednesday, February 13, 2013 10:57pm
  • Life

This planter is no clay pot.

It lights up, stores water and is indestructible — unless you’re hellbent on destroying it.

The plastic pots, made of recycled milk jugs, are among the many items that will be featured at the Northwest Flower &Garden Show in Seattle. Designed by Edmonds entrepreneur Hanz Lammersdorf, the planters cost $90 to $900 and come in 10 colors, from Seattle Gray to Citrus Yellow.

Some are big enough to bathe in, even if you’re not a plant.

Inside is a reservoir and a removable wick made of felt. A dipstick measures the water level.

“The plant drinks what it wants when it wants. Through Mother Nature capillary action it pulls up the water as it needs it,” Lammersdorf said. “You never have to worry about your plant.”

His company, KuL Designs, also makes products to use as tables, bars and stools that, like the planters, can be illuminated by solar, standard bulb or LED lighting.

It’s like big Fisher Price playthings for adults.

The market ranges from patios to party houses. “We shipped some to Italy for cruise ships,” he said. “Some celebrities have bought them. A lot of hotels and restaurants.”

A Canadian manufacturer molds the recycled plastic into shape. Lammersdorf and three workers assemble and ship the products from a small workshop compound on a residential street off Highway 99. It housed a cabinet workshop before he bought it in 2000.

Lammersdorf, 57, started making planters in 2008 after returning to Washington from four years in Ukraine, where he got married and remodeled several bland Soviet apartment blocks.

He isn’t the type of guy to be pinned down to one product.

He made cedar waterbeds in the late 1970s; plastic mannequin torso forms in the ’80s; and caffeine-infused “Turbo Truffles” in the ’90s.

He still sells the torso forms, but not as many.

“The competition from China has been brutal,” he said.

He also keeps a finger in the truffle business.

His first batch of planters were a flop.

“I started with concrete. They were too heavy to move around and weren’t water-saving,” he said. “I never sold one of them.”

Recycled plastic was the perfect fit for his goal of modern, functional and sustainable pots.

The planters are easy to move around when drained.

“They hold an average of 11 gallons of water,” he said.

Outdoor models have an overflow valve.

Most of his sales are online.

“People will buy sight unseen on a website from a picture,” he said. “Don’t you find that strange? I’m a touchy-feely guy. I’d never buy a big planter online.”

You don’t have to go to the garden show to touch and feel one.

“Molbak’s will be carrying it soon,” he said. “After the show, they are going to give me a little section there.”

The planters have a lifetime guarantee.

“I sold 30 to the city of London, Ontario, for their downtown streets,” he said. “Somebody took a hockey stick to one in front of the hockey stadium and whacked it pretty good and cracked it. Other than that I haven’t had any problems.”

Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com.

Northwest Flower &Garden Show

The five-day show has been a rite of spring for garden enthusiasts since 1989. The 25th anniversary theme is “The Silver Screen Takes Root … Gardens Go Hollywood.”

The show has 23 display gardens, 300 vendors, free seminars and hands-on demonstrations. It covers landscaping, livable outdoor spaces and edible gardens.

Dates: Wednesday through Feb. 24.

Times: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Place: Washington State Convention Center, 800 Convention Place, Seattle

Cost: Adult tickets range from $10 for half-day pass to a $16 early-bird daylong special; $5 for ages 13 to 17; 12 and younger are free. A five-day pass is $65.

For more information: www.gardenshow.com and www.kuldesigns.com

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