product designer


IKEA meets hydroponics

Today while searching for inspiration, I came across a few interesting hydroponic products by the most unlikely of makers- IKEA. Although, when you think about the company's social and environmental values, its not all that surprising IKEA have pursued an interest in urban farming.

The swedish flat packed furniture sensation has created a series of growing kits that provide enabling conditions for people to grow, harvest and consume food within the home. They collaborated with agricultural scientists in Sweden to develop a hydroponic system that would work on an extremely small scale, while remaining affordable and easy to use.

The products work using two interlinked systems: first seeds are placed in moistuned stone wool and then once the plants have sprouted, the plugs are repotted in a larger container where they are hugged by water-retaining pumice stones as they mature.

The units are designed so that they can be placed in a windowsill to take advantage of natural sunlight or affixed to a specialised low-energy LED lamp to enable cultivation anywhere, anytime of year.

What I find really inspiring about these products, is that they've been born by a growing consumer demand for healthier, more sustainable ways of living. IKEA itself is also moving towards a more sustainable consumer model; which they describe as a "circular IKEA" where customers are encouraged to recycle and repair their goods.

The launch of these indoor gardening products, speak the same strategy. Personally, I see these products as the first step of hydroponics stretching beyond the environmentally conciouss middle class to everyone affected by urbanisation. I believe that more inclusive, accessible products like these are needed to encourage individuals and communities- on a local and global scale to recognise the benefits of urban farming.

Rebecca Williamson