How might we lower the barrier to entry into the field of plant care for those new to gardening?
Role: Design Researcher, Industrial Designer, UI/UX Designer (Individual Project)
My Meadow was created as a way for beginners to start gardening in a low-commitment way, reducing the monetary, resource, and knowledge requirements that are often necessary for plant care to be truly successful. This is done through a direct-to-door modular planter system that fits to the user’s space, as well as an app that allows the user to design and select the plants to fit their desired vision and needs.
By lowering the barrier to entry into the field of plant care, individuals can build confidence in their ability to be successful in growing and caring for plants to get deeper into the hobby moving forward.
- User Research
- UI / UX Development
- Product System Design
- Adobe After Effects
- SolidWorks and Keyshot
This project actually started with an interest in those who were already invested in plant care, as I initially wanted to look into what it was about plant care that made it such a lifelong hobby for so many people. I started with several dynamic interviews that addressed this question, as well as a generative research exercise where I asked participants to sort various plants on an axis by their experience level with the given plant and their enjoyment of growing it.
I then asked someone who was not experienced with gardening to go through the same exercise and compared the results, being most interested in the low experience, low enjoyment quadrant of the chart. I found that those familiar with gardening knew which plants were a lot of work to be successful in, while those inexperienced with gardening often went with the aesthetic qualities of the plant.
This process helped me identify the goals of my product system, that it should showcase the effort and environmental conditions of the plant while also maximizing the aesthetic qualities of the plants themselves to serve as a creative outlet for the user.
With required resources being one of the inhibiting factors mentioned in my interviews, I wanted my product system to work around the user’s existing environment rather than the other way around. I did this by creating a modular system that uses poles with platforms and planter boxes that could adapt to various dimensions with window, floor, and ceiling-mounted models. Focusing on the window model, I also wanted to ensure that window use was not restricted, making the platforms and planter boxes slide up and down the poles or swing out for window access.
Plants themselves would be selected on the app based on where they would be located and required time commitment and would be fulfilled by local gardening centers that the service is partnered with. By ordering from the same place, a customized plant care schedule can be created using the customer’s ordering history and stored data on a plant’s watering frequency and soil changing schedule. This way, the user is in charge of the creative side of plant care with the design system taking care of the knowledge and resources.
The creation of this project was a great opportunity for me to define my own problem space based on direct research and interviews. Working with this ambiguity also allowed me to shape my product around the needs of the client, pivoting my initial question to an area of greatest opportunity while also questioning my assumptions about the space.
Another key point of this process was in evaluating the use of technology in an organic space, especially one that is often used as an escape from technology itself. For this project, I leveraged the benefits of tech in its access to information by assisting the plant decision-making process, access to resources by connecting consumers with local garden centers, and building community by maintaining those connections with experts to troubleshoot any issues.