By the year 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. At the same time, the amount of green spaces in cities are in decline. The benefits of greener cities are undeniable. Apart from the positive health effects, a greener environment contributes significantly to reducing anxiety and stress.
In the fall of 2016, we have been asked to tutor a project at Umeå Institute of Design in collaboration with Husqvarna with the title of Urban Nature. Together with 11 students from Advanced Product Design Master’s Program, within a 10-week project, we have set out to discover how people might create and improve their Urban Nature in the year 2030.
The process started with a field trip to Malmö - a city in the south of Sweden - where the authorities put great emphasis on bringing nature into the urban environment. The students got to see the installations created for the city’s Biodiversity Project. Also back in Umeå, some students got to experience the maintenance of local parks with professionals, visited local community gardens and listened to the professional’s challenges first hand.
After an amazing process where the students got to grow, trim, eat, cook and experience the urban nature fully, 7 fantastic projects were created by individuals or groups. The projects ranged from blue-sky to grounded and ranged from consumer-centric to business solutions.
Each of the projects were focused on the end-user experience with a strong focus on meaningful innovation which stands in the center of our philosophy. In each turn, the students critiqued themselves with big questions like “how does this help the environment or how does this help humanity?” The solutions and ideas included home-made fungi labs to original ways of solving fresh food delivery by finishing the growth process at home. Sustainability was also in focus where one could see a completely new way of harvesting the humidity in the air for watering community gardens.
There was also some incredibly detailed professional solutions that can make an arborist’s life so much easier by solving their everyday struggles. All enabled by simple but effective ideas based on careful observation in real life.
Another professional service was a way of installing scalable fresh produce vending machines where the community replants seeds so that everyone gets easier access to vitamins.
For some projects, gifting and personal connection to nature was the goal. They emphasized the special social connection that gifting a growing, living thing provides. Some projects focused on the crucial details of teaching people how to look after plants more effectively and understanding their needs with more empathy.
Some projects put greater emphasis on the brand aspects of Gardena and Husqvarna, bringing these household names closer to gardening indoors and with the help of technology very tastefully used.
We would like to give our warmest thanks to each and every one of the students that poured their heart and soul into this project with incredibly inspiring results.
Hope to see you soon.
Andreas Enebrand, Sebastian Gier, Darja Wendel, Karl Otto Saarman, Felix Hora, Janis Beinerts, Susanne Duswald, Joe Richardson, Jens Rehammar, Rebecca Daum, Sebastian Aumer.
Thomas Degn - APD Programme Leader
Jonas Sandström - Form & Visualization Tutor
Towe Ressman, VP Global Design Center
Rajinder Mehra, Brand Design Manager - Husqvarna
Jens Näslund, Brand Design Manager - Gardena
Bilgi Karan, Principal Designer - External Tutor