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Pebble - a new way of urban farming

This is a MADE studio project working with MONUM (Boston Mayor's Office of Food Justice) on the topic of urban farming

Project Type:
Product Design, Interaction Design,
Experience Design
Urban Farming, Local Community,
Primary Role:
User research, Visualization, Physical & Digital prototyping
Team Members:
Bohan Xu
Selvin Sun
Sherley Zhang
Jiawei Lu
Project is also collaborating with TEALEAVES on the research topic of biodiversity and featured on their page:
About the project
In collaboration with MONUM (Boston Mayor's Office of Food Justice), our team rethought urban farming in order to create a positive social impact through an innovative and uplifting experience.
Qualitative Research
We decided to approach the problem space in several directions including:
  • The growing process of food
  • People`s interior space
  • Local urban farm
  • Layout research
We also reached out to several experts to have a conversation to get valuable insights.
Key Insights:
  • People crave for green at home but it`s not always easy to grow things, especially for novice.
  • The category of plants we can grow at home
  • What is needed for indoor farming
  • The relationship between urban farming and its community
With all the research data, we conducted a brainstorm session to discuss what we want to encourage people to grow at their place. We discovered flower tea as a perfect medium.
We did some secondary research and found out that the whole industry relies heavily on the cost of transpotation and packaging which can be solved by indoor growing.
First iteration & testing
We did some sketch and made two iterations of our concept
To test our prototypes, we conducted a focus group to hear their voice. People love our idea and also give us feedback.
Key Insights:
  • Most people prefer aethetically pleasing plants
  • People enjoy harvesting
  • For novice, watering scedule is a big problem
Second iteration
We iterated a smart device to help our users grow plants at home and
We also also prototyped the device for key functions.
  • Watering indicator
  • Planting calendar
  • Soil humidity detector
Site visit
We know that Pebble is a device that would help individual planters at home. But we want to discover what kind of experience a community farm offers and what we are missing.
In order to test our prototypes, we conducted a focus group to gather their feedback.
Key Insights:
  • A local community farm is not only a place to farm, but a place that local events are happening.
  • There are some coolective experience that our product can not offer
  • There is a waitlist happening to join a community farm
Third iteration
Final user journey
We also made a video to map our user journey
System inovation
We did some sketch and made two iterations of our concept
Next Step
#1 We are thinking the ritual aspect of tea drinking experience and want to make the whole experience more enpowering and engaging for consumers.

#2 Pebble could be more useful when the user needs to grow different plants in one space. We will use plant growing data to train our model for biodiversity and help users to understand the needs of different plant when they grow at home.