What would you do if we told you that you could grow your favourite food at home with little effort and that you could build it all as a weekend DIY project?
We all enjoy all kinds of foods and most of us would certainly love to try eating our own home-grown produces. Making food from freshly grown ingredients is also the closest way to achieve local production for local consumption, isn’t it? But growing food in a small apartment in the middle of the city seems like an unrealisable dream. That’s where Antonio Scarponi, Co-director of the Certificate of Advanced studies "Knowing Spaces" of Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), comes in. He explains how easy it is to build our own indoor gardens, on a countertop, desk or large wall garden in your room.
Antonio Scarponi is an architect and designer, founder of Conceptual Devices, a Zurich based office for resilient design, architecture and urban development.
Scarponi believes that we do not need “anything”.
“Instead of designing something that we do not need, I think it is more interesting to develop a story that activates the things (that we do not need) and the people who use them (even though they do not need them). In this spirit, I have designed ELIOOO, an instruction manual that activates some IKEA boxes to grow food with hydroponics.”
ELIOOO is an instruction book about how to build a hydroponic system to grow plants, herbs, or vegetables in your apartment, using IKEA components. Hydroponics is a farming technique that can grow plants in water instead of soil. This allows you to play around with different setups as well. His goal is also to inspire people with his design.
“I like hydroponics because you can grow food anywhere and protect the crops from the city's polluted soil. I was interested in developing an aesthetic of simplicity and considered design as a form of knowledge that activates people instead of making them buy more. Hydroponics allows you to save up to 90% of the water used in traditional agriculture systems, requires much less space, and provides you with complete control of the nutrients needed by the plants at each stage of their growth. Another great thing about hydroponics is that you don’t have to worry about watering the plants.” says Scarponi. He hopes that ELIOOO inspires us towards a hacking mentality to create even better hydroponic gardens.
When Scarponi first came up with the idea of ELIOOO in 2012, he was able to raise 10,000 USD through crowdfunding, before publishing his book in 2013. Since then, he has been developing the project and inspiring people. Recently ELIOOO, was part of the exhibition “Stories. The Italian Design” at the Triennale Design Museum, Milan in 2018, then travelled as part of the exhibition “Plant Fever”, from the Center for Design and Innovation Grand-Hornu (CID) in Belgium 2020, through Vienna Biennale for change in 2021 and to the Museum of Design, Zürich in 2022. The book is published in Japanese, German, French and Russian.
Everybody can become a gardener, if they so wish. Basil, mint and some other herbs are good choice to start - easy to grow and we can enjoy them in multiple ways, says Scarponi. As a first step, let’s see how we can use our limited space in a more creative way. You may find another solution that works best for you.
Eliooo is available here.
©Eliooo Antonio Scarponi