product designer


Katharina Unger's LIVIN Farm

Today, while browsing one of my favourite design websites Dezeen, I stumbled across a few interesting conceptual pieces; where designers have created enabling conditions for people to grow and harvest livestock within the home. Personally, I reject the commodity status of animals- no matter how big or small. Although, I do believe these concepts could be a sneak peek to what may- or may not be the future of urban farming.

I came across Katharina Unger’s Livin Farm which is designed to allow users to raise edible worms at home. Ok, so my first reaction was ew- yuck! Who would want to keep worms in their kitchen, let alone eat them? Turns out, the protein from each harvest would be equivalent to that found in the same amount of meat, with significantly less space, water and energy for their production.  While reading up on this, I found a team of Icelandic designers whom had launched chocolate protein bars made from powdered crickets as an alternative protein source. Their mission is to change people’s opinions towards edible insects by offering them a normal looking protein bar that tastes good.

Unger began researching home insect farms while studying the impact of factory farming and industrial meat production. Realising that worms produce very little CO2 compared to cattle, she began exploring how they can be grown, harvested and consumed using little space. This led her to her concept Livin Farm, which houses the insects in eight sliding drawers according to growth- from eggs to pupae to beetles.

Ultimately, its ambition is to develop tools and technologies that make people more comfortable with novel foods. Unger hopes that once people recognise how hygienic, functional and easy the device is to rear insects for consumption, attitudes will change. Making a good point on food culture, she believes her concept can overcome prejudices in the same ways potatoes, sushi, lobster and other foods have.

Although I don’t see myself picking insects on the menu anytime soon, I find Unger’s concept truly fascinating.  Reading about it has really sparked some thought, encouraging me to see the bigger picture of Urban Farming. Perhaps, rearing insects in the home can be a sustainable solution to the problems faced by agriculture today. Insects give us the opportunity to grow on small spaces, with very little resources. Farming them at home, would help to reduce our food miles and perhaps waste streams, as we would grow and harvest them only when needed.

Rebecca Williamson