Sustainable Housewares - Autumn 2020 - 3 months
Plantern is a hanging light fixture planter combination designed in collaboration with classmate Meredith Billman to address sustainability in the housewares market. We use naturally aged and preserved gourds to create hanging planters that also function as light fixtures. By turning on the Plantern’s light, the user directly impacts the growing conditions of the plant. In return, the room is immersed in patterns of light and shadow created by the pattern of holes and the plants stuck in the niches of the plantern, transforming the user’s space much more than a simple pot on a shelf would. With a budget of $200 we produced 10 Planterns, which we then sold at the Third Annual Ohio State Industrial Design Winter Market, earning a total of $560.
My partner and I took on ethnographic-style research that was done by a pair of our classmates. They had observed a variety of plant nurseries and home garden setups to explore the ways in which people interact with plants and the ways in which plants are arranged and organized in a space. From these observations emerged three insights:
We began ideating by brainstorming on sticky notes, then we translated our ideas to thumbnail sketches.
We soon discovered the potential of dried gourds as an all-natural material. Gourds come in a variety of shapes and sizes and when dried, develop a sturdy outer shell that is carve-able using hand tools. We realized that a dried gourd would allow us to create a basin that is sturdy enough to hold plants while still giving us the ability to carve intricate patterns that filter the light through its sides.
We chose to carve a mid century modern-inspired pattern into our Planterns as a way of tying this natural looking, handcrafted product back to the modern housewares industry. The pattern combines elements of both modernity, through the sleek geometric forms, and nature, as the individual components are reminiscent of the shape of a leaf.
Final Concept Sketch
My partner carved the pattern into each of our gourds, while I assembled the Planterns and designed the tags. Each Plantern came with a light cord, a light bulb, and a kit that included string, hooks, and hanging instructions for the Plantern.