If you want to use one of these architect-designed hydroponic gardens to grow vegetables in your apartment or office, you’ll have to build it yourself: The designer, Antonio Scarponi, decided that he didn’t want to manufacture yet another new product.
“Rather than mindlessly producing new stuff, distributing, and reinventing new production and distribution chains, I think we should find new ways of assembling what we already have,” Scarponi explains.
His designs, created for six different small gardens, are all made from a few parts that can be found at Ikea, a company Scarponi chose because it’s easily accessible from most large cities.
"Instead of making a hack of Ikea furniture, I wanted to hack Ikea as a company, designing an instruction manual for a product that does not exist unless you make it,” says Scarponi. “I wanted to activate people and allow them to be the 'manufacturer of an idea.'"
Although Ikea recently came under fire for threatening to take down a related Ikea-hacking website, they liked the hydroponic gardens: When Scarponi first produced the instructions for the design in a crowdfunding campaign, the Swedish company helped foot the bill for the prizes.
In his 200-page instruction manual, called Eliooo, Scarponi carefully illustrated instructions for making everything from a simple countertop garden to a desk with space for growing plants. Another design mounts on the wall, and one variation has shelves for vegetables stacked on top of a base with wheels, so you can roll it outside or move it around a room.
If someone doesn't want to shop at Ikea, that's fine, too. "The goal of the design is to inspire," Scarponi says. "Eliooo is designed so that you can play around with the different setups I suggest in the book, with or without Ikea components."
As a designer, he hopes to get more people making things themselves. "Design can turn the world's population into the biggest creative industry even known—a crowd factory," he says.