“The goal was to create tangible, physical products that could get people to care more about plants and, in the long run, change the way they think and act towards nature and the environment,” says Mohammad Obaid, Associate Professor at the Interaction Design unit at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
The prototypes were developed as part of the course Prototyping in Interaction, which was initiated by Mohammad Obaid and partly financed by the Centre for Sustainable Urban Futures. The plant theme was developed in collaboration with Trädgårdsföreningen in Gothenburg.
Focus on well-being
After a focused eight-weeks development period, the students showcased their prototypes at an exhibition in the Kuggen library at Campus Lindholmen, and many of the prototypes focused on the well-being of both plants and humans. There was Fredie, the little pot that turns red and drops its arms when in need of watering.
"It's a small buddy that keeps you company," explained Emil Falk, one of its creators. Other examples where the GloLeaf, a plant that emits a pleasant green glow when spoken to, and Honey Pot, which lights up both itself and a connected partner pot when touched.
"Our target group was people who recently moved out of their parents' homes and might miss their family or friends. Our pots become a way to stay connected; when it lights up, you know the other person is there," says Paulina Palmberg.
Plants as calming companions
Several students also explored the calming effect of plants. Pauseplant serves as a gentle office companion, reminding professionals when to take a break. The meditation plant ZenStem on the other hand is engineered to water itself based on the user’s heartbeat. Qingyuan Ma, one of the creators behind the plant explains the design in a following way:
“When you’re calm and your heartbeat is low, Zenstem waters automatically. The idea is that as you take care of yourself, you take care of the plant.”
Trädgårdsföreningen contributed with knowledge
The course started with guided tours conducted by the gardeners at Trädgårdsföreningen, Nicholas Delahooke and Emmelie Georgii, who provided expertise and support. They argue that it is of great importance to strengthen people’s relationship with nature.
"These prototypes offer a unique approach to cultivating that relationship, especially for those without prior knowledge about plants," says one of the gardeners, Nicholas Delahooke.
For the students, the plant theme was unexpected, but rewarding.
"It has been incredibly evolving, and we ended up somewhere completely different from where we started with our first pot. It was really fun to step away from theory
for a while and actually get to build," says Paulina Palmberg.