Itadakimasu

Itadakimasu

  • Full-scale working prototype
    Zoom
    Full-scale working prototype
  • Implementation of the concept
    Zoom
    Implementation of the concept
  • Render of the concept
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    Render of the concept
  • Development of interaction scenarios
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    Development of interaction scenarios
  • Early concept sketches
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    Early concept sketches
What It Does

Itadakimasu is an indoor growth system that allows senior citizens to grow their own fresh vegetables and herbs.

The Inspiration

During the development of Itadakimasu as part of my Final Bachelor Project, I noticed an emphasis of fellow-students and lecturers on the problems arising from the (Dutch) aging society. Since I strongly believe in design as a tool for self-actualization, I was inspired to approach this development (of an aging society) from a positive perspective, by trying to find a way to use this "problem" as an opportunity to enrich the lives of senior citizens instead.

Throughout the project itself, I have been inspired by Japanese culture and aesthetics, where a bigger emphasis lies on the whole experience instead of seeing food as a necessity only.

How It Works

The system is designed as a minimalist wall-object for the dining area, where three different levels inside enhance the growth of vegetables and herbs in a flexible way. The system is developed with an aim for rich interaction and designed in a way that it stimulates a full-body engagement with the system. Through sight, taste, smell and touch, the user is involved in a rich sensory experience that fosters daily engagement of the user.

The system uses integrated (pink) LED lighting for the growth of the plants. In combination with the use of hydroponics, the system allows for a local, more sustainable, more controllable and healthier growth of vegetables and herbs. LED lights and sensors facilitate the use of the system, where the only necessary interaction is watering the plants. If there is a lack of water in the system, the user is subtly reminded of this need. When the system is refilled, its external LED lights brighten up; the system comes alive again.

Stages of Development

Based on my background as an Industrial Design student from a technical university, the design context was initially explored using scientific research. This research was, later on, verified and extended through user involvement methods, such as in-depth interviews with the target group and a two-week design exploration using an interactive design probe and accompanying dairy studies. Furthermore, an extensive market analysis was applied in order to define the unique value proposition of a first concept.

All insights led to the development of a first concept, which was evaluated by lecturers and fellow-students at a formal assessment presentation. After the presentation, the concept went through several iterative stages where it developed to the final concept as described before.

Next, the aesthetics and interaction of the concept were designed. Decisions made in this stage of the process were based on theory and vision. The interactions were visualized in a range of scenarios of interaction. The scenarios of interaction were evaluated using scientific frameworks and methodologies, which resulted in the development of a final user experience through the design and designed interaction.

In the final phase of the project, the design was evaluated through extensive user tests.

Novelty

Whilst other (commercial) products focus on their short-term use and direct results, Itadakimasu has a specific focus on the long-term effects of the system. The value of the system lies within this long-term use, where it stimulates an engagement that results in an increased autonomy of senior citizens. Furthermore, by engaging senior citizens in activities that are meaningful in the lives of these senior citizens, their mental and physical health will increase over time. This focus on the long-term use of the system cannot be found in comparable products.

Future Plans

I am currently discussing, with lecturers from Eindhoven University of Technology (the Netherlands), the opportunity to exhibit Itadakimasu at the Dutch Design Week 2017 at the end of October. For me this is essential, since my work is meant to create awareness and trigger a wide audience to self-reflect, all with the ultimate goal of self-actualization. In case of exhibiting at the Dutch Design Week 2017, I will develop a second, improved prototype in order to create an even richer and more stimulating experience for visitors of the exhibition.