Monday, 13 October 2014

Side Project: Kitchen Garden

As one of my industrial design projects this year, I've begun to design a small scale garden suitable for urban kitchens, such as those in apartments with little to no natural light. The following images describe my research process. Part of my process includes generating "critical project drivers" or CPDs. CPDs state all the features that a product must have, as well as feature that are nice to have or should be integrated if possible. These drivers focus on risks, costs, quality and timing associated with my project. 

More details after the break.   

Project Description

There exists a unique need for a small scale garden, preferably wall mounted, that can exist in small urban living spaces. The garden should promote the growth of edible plants (such as herbs) and be effective all year round, using LEDs and a wall plug as a power source. The garden should be self regulated to a certain extent, and alert the user when water is needed. The seeds should be sold as part of the system, allowing the user to easily choose an appropriate selection of plants as well as allowing for easy planting. The seeds are packaged in paper pulp seed pods that can be planted and composted in soil – they should create minimal to no packaging waste.

Critical Project Drivers

Must Have

1. Safe to Use: No chance of water coming into contact with other electrical appliances, no harmful bacteria, resistant to pets/ animal resistant; Meets CSA/UL standards for electronic devices that may come into contact with water; no toxic materials used in product

2. Hygienic: Easy to clean and minimize growth of potentially harmful bacteria, the surfaces must be smooth and have no small indents that could collect dirt; cleaning process is simple and require no more than 1 minute once a week

3. Easy Maintenance: Indicators on plant seed packaging should tell user the needs of the plants and be easily understood; User can pour water into the plant without disturbing the plants or having to reach into the planter

4. Minimal footprint: Will take up little extra space in the kitchen, will not take up valuable counter real-estate; Functions as a wall mounted appliance, (Approximate dimensions under 6”x15”x18”)

5. Aesthetically Pleasing: pleasant part of kitchen environment, blends with other kitchen appliances; uses common appliance look and feel, organic rounded shapes/ materials such as stainless steal or neutral colors such as white or black; holds 4-5 plants and compliments plants natural appearance

6. Easy to plant seeds and begin growing process; Seeds come in sets of 5-10, pods are completely compostable within the planter system, pods come complete with plant fertilizer

7. Functions in Low Light: As many interior kitchens, especially in apartments, have little natural light, the garden should provide LED light source as needed; Use 8mm LED's with optimized light wavelengths for rapid plant growth and automated timer to mimic natural light cycles and conserve energy

8. Final Design by December 2, 2014

Should Have

9. Competitive Cost: should be competitive with what is on the market; between $100 – 150; Seed Pods designed to be low cost ($10 or less per set)

10. Self Regulating: Should monitor water levels and provide good drainage without extra effort from the user; excess water drains to bottom and is absorbed by plants as needed, no water should be wasted; Provide alerts when plants need special care or attention such as more water

11. System is set up in such a way that user can choose to plant their own seeds instead

12. Competitive Lifespan: 15 years or longer, system should be resistant to normal kitchen traffic and physical wear, lights and parts (ie-lights) should be replaceable to extend lifespan

13. Uses 15 watts or less. Uses Wall plug, (wire long enough to reach plug), and memory to prevent system being reset if it is unplugged.

Nice to Have

14. Sustainable End of Life: all parts should be recyclable

15. System uses efficient production methods to be suitable for medium-high volume product; Seed Pods designed to be suitable for high volume production

16. Planter is adjustable to allow plants to grow to any height, and to fit into a variety of spaces within the kitchen environment

17. Rechargeable Battery to ensure lighting system does not always need to be plugged in.

Background images from myself and

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