product designer


Gurus Day

What is gurus day?

Gurus day is an annual event hosted by the Social Digital department of DJCAD. It invites successes from industry- some of which are graduates from the course, to chat to students. While this was an opportunity for students to seek advice for their projects, it also gave us the chance to network ourselves and gain some insights into the industry. 


To prepare for Gurus Day, we were required to create a visualisation of our project so far. This aimed to communicate the weighings of our project in terms of Social Digital's core values- People, Design and Technology. 

Although this is subject to change, at this point I weighed my project as:

People- 35%

I have been focusing my research on two potential users. The first being for children to provide them with an educational platform to enable them to learn basic agricultural skills e.g. composting. The second being for people living in urban areas; where space and environmental conditions restrict people’s ability to grow their own crops at home

Design- 40%

Myfocus is to create a product enables people to grow and harvest crops for consumption within the comfort of the home. The design challenge is to create something that is functional, by also something that would be desirable for home interiors. I also want to combine nature, traditional craft and technology to create a more interactive approach to farming.

Technoloy- 25%

I have been exploring how technology can be integrated in my product. This may be done by using sensors to monitor the oxygen levels in the compost. I would also like to explore technologies that would allow the user to monitor the amount of light energy being provided to the crops.

We were also required to summarise our project using only 50 words. This proved quite tricky and after a cycle of typing and re-typing, I eventually defined it as 

"Exploring alternatives of factory farming to encourage consumers to consider the origin and ethics of their food. Enabling people in urban areas to combine nature and technology to grow, harvest and consume crops within the home. Providing people with a platform to engage with the future of food."

In hindsight, this really helped me to frame my project after losing direction.

The Day

The studio had a real buzz to it on the morning of Gurus Day. With mixed emotions of nerves and excitement, I looked forward to chatting to the gurus. We were each assigned gurus according to our projects and their areas of interest/ expertise. I had the pleasure of being paired with Patrick Stevenson-Keating, Giulia Garbin and Nick Taylor.

While discussing my project with the gurus it was suggested to:

  • Pinpoint who my user is (e.g. age, lifestyles they have)
  • Use cultural probes and/or workshops to investigate peoples engagement with growing
  • Decide what environment it is for (e.g. indoors, outdoors, urban or rural neighbourhoods)
  • Hack/ experiment with existing product's technology (e.g. humidity/ temprature sensors found in self-watering plant pots)
Gurus Day .jpg

In the afternoon, we were given time to chat to guru's whom we hadn't been paired with. Afterwards, we had the opportunity to ask questions about internships and their experiences working in industry. 

Helpfully, we were advised to:

  • Be proactive
  • Try new things
  • Engage with people as this opens up opportunities of employment and collababorations
  • Network using social media

Advice to Action

Having recieved a lot of very useful advice and interesting direction, my following steps are to:

  • Define who I am designing for
  • Expand user research through cultural probes and/ or workshops
  • Experiment with technology using open source platforms and/ or existing products
  • Arrange industry interviews (e.g. The Grow Project, Urban Farming Co)
Rebecca Williamson