Patanowska was looking for a way to re-use abandoned glasses found on the streets of London, left outside by patrons of the city's numerous bars and clubs.
As part of an unconnected project, she was throwing – shaping on a wheel – a porcelain vessel that didn't yet have a base and placed it on a glass in her studio to dry. She made the connection between the two and started collecting more glasses.
"I spent over a month in the early morning, between 4am and 6am, searching the streets and collecting glasses from bus stops, benches, curbs, alleys, gates and even shopping carts," Patanowska told Dezeen. "It was amazing – somewhere between the buzz of looking for eggs and finding money on the street. It is amazing how the value of the glass grows in a different context."
She then hand-threw a series of bottomless porcelain pots designed to sit within the found glasses.
When planted, stems and leaves poke up above the pot and roots are visible through the glass below. This allows the growing process of the entire plant to be observed.
"Porcelain is the most special and exclusive ceramic material," said the designer. "I decided to make the Plantation collection out of porcelain to highlight the value of the discarded glass, which is an inherent part of the project. Hand-throwing gives a unique spinning fleshiness of movement to the porcelain."
The assortment of handmade pots can be inserted into a variety of standard glasses. The pots can also be turned upside down to create mini greenhouses, ideal for seed germination.
"Plantation is a natural continuation of my artistic inquiry into the social and environmental implications of waste. The collection allows the reinvention of the function of an ordinary glass vessel, giving it a new context and purpose," said Patanowska.
Plantation by Alicja Patanowska was selected as a finalist in the Sustain Awards and won the Charlotte Frazer Award at London's Royal College of Art in 2014.