Bel-Air by Mathieu Lehanneur


Bel-Air is a filtration system designed by Mathieu Lehanneur, which uses living plants to purify the air indoors.

The purifier is currently on show at the Laboratoire in Paris and will be included in MoMA's exhibition Design and the Elastic Mind, opening in February.

The following information is from Mathieu Lehanneur:


The air quality indoors is worse than outdoors. Plastic used for furniture production emits pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.Their levels are highest during warm and humid periods.

Crucially for the health of NASA's astronauts, who stay in orbital station in a polymer-saturated environment, the American agency set up an air purifying system which resulted from a program of research into plants in the early 1980's.

With Bel-Air, this program is now completed and optimized by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur, together with the American scientist David Edwards (HarvardUniversity), and ready for domestic use.

Bel-Air is a mini mobile greenhouse that continuously inhales the space-polluted air, forces it through three natural filters (the plant leaves, its roots, and a humid bath) before ejecting it, purified.

This patented principal has two advantages: Bel-Air is to the American and Asiatic common filter appliances what Dyson is to regular vacuum cleaners. Here, the noxious particles are captured, and transformed inside the system. No more filters to change, and no more clogs.

As for the aesthetic, Bel-Air breaks the codes. The plant is removed from its ornamental status and becomes a true object of service. As a vegetal brain enclosed in an aluminium and Pyrex cranial box, Bel-Air is the cutting-edge of new objects and guardian angels that will soon protect us.

Bel-Air can currently be purchased as a prototype. The goal is to invite the buyers to become voluntary guinea pigs of the current test protocols in order to study and report its behaviour and condition of use to the conception team.Accordingly, Bel-Air will improve before production during 2009.

Bel-air will be presented atMoMA,New Yorkin the exhibition "Design and the Elastic mind" starting next February.

Bel-Air - News about a Second Atmosphere, is currently presented inParisuntilJanuary 14, 2008at the Laboratoire, a new Parisian site initiating collaborations between artists, designers and scientists.

First two images © Mathieu Lehanneur

Third image © Marc Domage

Fourth image © Véronique Huyghe

Last image © Bruno Cogez


Posted by Rose Etherington

Posted on Thursday November 29th 2007 at 8:12 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • m

    poor, poor plants.. what have they done to you?

  • infer

    a good design!

  • Superbe projet, bravo Mathieu ! :)
    Superb project, congrats Mathieu! :)

  • design student

    inspiration for my up coming graduation project. great job!

  • Yeahright

    A nice aquarium with live aquatic plants and a air filter pump and water circulating pump accomplishes the same thing.

  • JM

    Surely the rate of absorption by the plants leaves and roots cannot be changed by simply forcing more air at the plant? so why not just have an indoor house plant? however I like your concept Mathieu – more design should look at harnessing technology that already exists in Nature.
    see the Ted talk by Janine Benyus –

  • free the plants!!!

    this is cruelty to the fauna!

  • matali

    bravo pour ta mise en pot
    signé matali

  • mathieu

    thank you matalie!

  • Candy

    Brilliant! I think you should sell them! Looks nice – green and white.
    Who cares about all them negative people! MAKE YOUR MARK-BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE STEALS YOUR IDEAS!

  • tonny

    bravo c’est génial! je voudrais bien en acheter un!

  • Michel

    So how can I buy a prototype to test?

  • Mondrich

    nice…Well Done! i like to buy one of those.

  • Michele Caskey

    How can I purchase a prototype? I am really interested. Please reply, even if they are not available now.


  • sebastian

    Sorry to point it out, but really it is not only pointless but also seemingly idiotic this so called “new concept”. why on earth would someone think putting a perfectly natural filter a plant is, in a capsule that not only doesn’t let the plant develop to its maximum extent but obviously requires such a huge amount of resources to fabricate this artifact that obviously contradicts the whole “green theme” around it.
    I mean, as a piece of art… or even interior design if you may… i can say it has its interesting points…
    but as a really applicable gadget for every home i think it is not viable nor intelligent.
    Sebastian. Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Dear Mr or Mrs

    We hope all is well with you..

    We are interested in your product.

    You are kindly requested to send us more information & sample .

    Our business is airfreshners & related items.


    • Just cause it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s not super hlpeful.

  • zuy

    I’m quite surprise there was no other project since Nasa found the plants against house pollution…

  • Thank you Yeahright and Sebastian.

    My mother grew a window full of Philodendrons and other plants for the same purpose, when we lived in a low-income housing project during the 60’s, when I was a girl. As I currently live in an apartment near a busy thoroughfare, I now grow them, and the do a FABULOUS job. I had a chain-smoker staying with me, and he stressed them out, but he’s gone and the plants are still with me.

    There’s a wonderful book called “Easy Plants for Difficult Spaces” which came out in the 70’s. The section on pollution is worth the book. Do you remember when you could smoke in the waiting rooms of doctors offices and other places? (maybe not). Anyway specific plants were there for just that purpose.

    My next question. How are these plants cared for? I thought it might be a good product for my friends who are too lazy to care for plants, but if you have to care for these? I don’t know.

  • Elizabeth Madera

    I have three children. Boy 18, two twin girls ages 9 months. We all have indoor and outdoor allergies and asthma. I have bought several air purifiers, humidifiers, and none have worked well in helping the symptoms. I would like to try your product hoping it will work better in cleaning the air from my home.

    I can be reached at: (347) 270-1577

    my address is:

    2515 Davidson Avenue #5F
    Bronx, NY 10468

    thank you.

  • don

    Dear Sir. Is there any easy way to find out if the filtered air will be fresh or not ? Different plants will have a different rate of air filtration and is there a second method of air filtering in your “dome”? If there is and then it can not prove the effect of the plant. If there will not be a second filtration,the poor plant will live an air conditioned ” dome” to survive. Anyway I am interested in your filter. Can you tell me where I can buy one? I live in Vancouver Canada. Thank you.

  • min

    Hi there,

    Interesting way of purifying air. I am very interested to be one of your guinea pigs to test the prototype.

    Please get in touch with me. Thank You very much.

  • Hello,
    does someone know how I can have contact with mister Lehanneur?
    Or someone else who can help with designing my ideas?

  • Miguel Perera Hernan

    I live in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, where the conditions of the air (temperature about 20 grades centigrades every year and high humidity), are good for"acaros" (in spanish),we breath, and it results in high allergies in popullation. I am very interested to be one of your guinea pigs to test the prototype.

    Please get in touch with me. Thank You very much.

  • Semih

    Is this system any different from having plants at home? Apart from its good look, does the dome help anything? I couldn’t figure it out.

  • i think they are so awesome. where can i get these??? if there not available yet, i’d b willing to test em out for yahs or be apart of ur tests if ur doing trial runs on it… well let me know…. thanks you again…justin hadfield

  • Brilliant and ingenious product!

  • Alkis

    Hello, i think you can buy one here

  • gregory dearth

    Dumbest thing I ever saw. Is this a joke? A tiny plant in a plastic capsule absorbs a ridiculously small amount of polutants. A forced-air system through a mesh filter material and ionic plates cannot be beat. Just slap a solar panel on the apparatus and you can filter the air for free… except for the materials, of course. Scrubbing out CO2 is a whole different problem.

    I would like one of those for my desk at work though.

  • Scooby Snacks

    As someone who is currently developing a large-scale, building integrated bio-filter, I say, bravo!

    Upon reading through the comments section and editorials on this item, it is horridly apparent that too many people have absolutely no idea as to how a system such as this works, hence the arrogant, ignorant knee-jerk opposition – to them, I say: go back to playing in the sandbox, child; you have no place in the realm of science.

  • Dutchgirl

    Isn't it true that all threes and plans 'inhale' air an then produce 'healthy air' to humans? So if the air indoor is bad, wouldn't this be just a little pointless..?Takes much more plants to clear the air I'd say. It may be art/design or any of those… but well.. probably it is just and only a cool looking expensive accessory. Like the idea though;)

  • alex

    As art, yes it made me think.
    Also people are talking about it, great.
    But the technology that sadly some people believe it is?
    The theory is a possibility NASA did something with this idea.
    In my opinion this is a trendy plant pot that uses too many resources