Yes, I know, it’s quite a title for an article. I will explain what I mean.
Recent market surveys show that the young generation consumers don’t want to buy and consume “manufactured” food. They prefer meals, where some cooking is involved, even for their breakfast. We see a stark interest and grow in farmers’ markets, attracting the consumer, who looks for fresh produce and crafted home-made products.
The weekly trip to the super- or hypermarket is replaced by a frequent, almost daily, visit to the smaller convenience store with its healthy and fresh assortment. Apparently the ready-to-eat meals and snacks, manufactured en-masse, are out and home cooking is favoured again.
That’s not quite a surprise as the contemporary consumer is increasingly discriminating between brands by looking for ethical behaviour and clear values. Falsely labelling its products as “natural”, the lying and cheating with ingredients, the many recalls and the green-washing has taken its toll as the food industry squandered its good name and reputation, made the consumer wary of its products.
Consequently the trend is that we do more ourselves, instead of buying processed food or manufactured ingredients, we make our own home-made food.
Home-made isn’t only a trend, it’s also fun to do as is enjoying the results. Of course companies are jumping the bandwagon and introduce starter packs for our home-made food.
We have already seen starter packs for pickles, home-brewed beer, and a wide range of home-grown herbs. Blogging moms, cooking and food preserving blogs never have been so popular and abundantly available.
But no starter sets for conserving food in this article, as today I want to have a look at the packaging for what I want to call “In-Packaging Indoor Gardening”. Packaging for an all-in-one small indoor garden, which doesn’t require green fingers, they tell me. The packaging sometimes is very simple, but there also are fascinating and sophisticated packages on the market.
Shizen, Japanese inspired indoor garden
Shizen (Since modern ages the Japanese word “shizen” is used as the translation of the Western word “nature”) is a new style of indoor gardening inspired by the principle of Japanese gardens, which is “creating miniature idealized landscapes”.
The Shizen urban gardening set, designed by New York based graphic designer and ceramic artist In Young Bae, has a unique packaging form, which includes all products at once. When opening the packaging consumers can see the blooming image presented by the packaging and each individual smaller pack also creates flower or plant shapes on the top, when they are combined. This modular system allows the packaging design to include all products in an effective and unique way, and provides a wonderful visual experience for the consumer. The graphic and branding is based on the principles of Japanese gardening, which are Miniaturization, Concealment and “Borrowed” Scenery from nature.
The logo and graphic elements on the packaging are derived from the sand drawing image of Japanese traditional garden. All illustrations are hand-drawn.
The packaging set includes 5 types of herbs seeds (Rosemary, Sage, Parsley, Thyme and Basil), 5 tools (Pruner, Snips, Rake, Trowel and Shovel), 2 types of soil (Sand and Clay) and Hinoki wood plant pot panels, which allow the consumer to make customized plant pots.
The Shizen gardening set is not exactly what I mean with In-Packaging Indoor Gardening, as it just is a collection of elements to create an indoor garden. What I really mean with In-Packaging Indoor Gardening is that the packaging itself is an integral part of the indoor garden. That’s perfectly, althoug a bit complicated, realised in the next example: the Click and Grow Smartpot.
Click and Grow Smartpot
AKU, a design agency based in Tallinn, Estonia and founded in 2012 by Alari Orav, Kaarel Kala and Uku-Kristjan Küttis, designed the packaging for a very sophisticated indoor gardening system, developed by Click and Grow, also in Estonia. Click and Grow is a small company that was started in 2009 by Mattias Lepp, who drew inspiration from NASA’s aeroponics technology. After some experimentation, the Smartpot was created, a self-sufficient plant growing system that operates with just a click of a button.
Before we discuss the packaging itself, we have to have a look at the product, in other words what’s inside the packaging.
The heart of every Click & Grow product is the nano-material growth medium, the NASA inspired Smart Soil. It has a specially formulated chamber structure, which ensures that the root-zone has superior aeration at all times. Seeds are already planted in the soil.
A Capillary Precision Irrigation (CPI) system is included, to provide the plant with just the right amount of water at all times, so the consumer doesn’t have to worry about it.
Furthermore a built-in light source, fuelled by 6W of eco-friendly LED technology is focusing the light to a dense beam. Therefore the plants will be supplied with a flux excelling 10,000 lux while using only a minimal amount of energy.
The system is designed to take complete care of the consumer plants. The Smartpot refill contains a microchip with a unique growing program for each and every plant.
All these elements of this sophisticated indoor gardening technology are packaged in a simple paperboard folding box, designed by AKU. The box is outlined 360 degrees with the product’s minimalist silhouette and slipped in a white paper garment. An already fully ripened Smartpot is shown front and centre with simplistic instructions transcribed on the back.
Upon opening the box, the consumer will discover the pot on the bottom tray surround by an easy 5-step instruction manual and below, a user guide for further instructions on the do’s and don’ts when using the product as well as how to clean it properly.
With an easy setup that takes less than 5 minutes, the product is sleek in design and can complement any part of the house. Once plugged in and filled with water, a green light appears indicating that the growth process has begun. As water levels plummet, a red light will flash letting the consumer know it is time to refill the pot. To stimulate the sprouting, a “grow light” is hooked on the back of the system allowing a maximum amount of “sunlight” to reach the crop. Unlike traditional gardening, the Smartpot does not require professional experience or knowledge of what soil is best for what plant, when to water it or climate control.
The packaging is designed so that the product requires minimal assembly before use but is protected during transportation. The material choice plays with the juxtaposition of glossy white paper and brown cardboard to emphasise the high-tech and natural aspects of the product. The removable user manual is built into the product, giving clear step-by-step instructions on how to start using the Smartpot.
Of course not all in-packaging gardening products are sophisticated in terms of built-in technology.
There are beautiful examples of simple in-packaging mini-gardens and some very sophisticated in terms of sustainability or in other words the choice of packaging material.
Gardens in a Can
Simplicity and quality are the key features of this original product. Packed in a small aluminium can, MicroGiardini plants make an easy way to grow herbs, vegetables and flowers in any indoor environment.
Designed and marketed by Arnoldi Europe in Italy the aluminium cans contain seeds or bulbs (depending on the season) within a growing organic compound, and they transform into a little flowering vase after just a few weeks.
To get results the consumer just has to use the ring-pull to open the can. Slowly empty a glass of water in the can and wait a few minutes. Then he has to use the ring-pull to open the base and remove it and put the plastic lid (included) in its place.
In contrast to the Smartpot, described here above, the consumer has to realise that despite its simplicity, he mustn’t forget that this is a plant and needs to be cared for, watered, and looked after.
The Microgiardini assortment offers a wide choice of flowers, throughout all the seasons, with different colours and characteristics.
Let’s now have a look at what Potting Shed Creations has to offer. They developed the “garden-in-a-bag”, the “grow bottle” and the “bonsai garden”. All of them jewels in packaging.
Potting Shed Creations
Founded in 1998, Potting Shed Creations, Ltd., is a design company in Idaho. All of its products are carefully made in Idaho by hand, one piece at a time, using only the finest materials. Their goal is to create genuine, straight forward, minimal design that distils through material, colour, word, hand and function.
We start with the simple one: Garden-in-a-Bag
The earth-friendly ‘Garden-in-a-Bag’ kits from Potting Shed Creations are leak-free stand-up pouches filled with soil. The consumer simply has to add the enclosed packet of seeds and keep everything watered regularly in order to enjoy fresh produce.
These eco-friendly stand-up pouches include everything needed to grow fresh fruit, herbs, and flowers in any sunny spot in the house. In a few simple steps, these leak-proof pouches will begin to blossom, giving the consumer access to everything from fresh basil to wheatgrass. They’re literally available in dozens of styles to suit everybody’s taste, and are perfect even for the not-so-green-thumbed.
Depending on the size of the windowsills or countertops, it’s possible to have a whole garden arrayed in brown paper bags.
The Grow Bottle
The Grow Bottle, upcycled and composed completely of sourced and re-purposed materials, is handmade in Idaho from post-consumer restaurant wine bottles. Using simple hydroponics, these durable glass vessels grow fresh herbs indoors year-round, making the Grow Bottle a fresh new way to grow herbs in the kitchen.
After sourcing the bottles, Potting Shed Creations cuts them in half and finishes the edges. The top portion of the bottle inverts and nests into the bottom, and a natural wool wick is threaded through the neck of the bottle and draws up nutrient rich water from the base to the seed that is planted in clay pebbles. Each kit includes either basil, chives, oregano, parsley, or mint seeds, along with clay pebbles, vermiculite (to concentrate moisture while the seeds germinate), wool wick, plant nutrient, cork coaster, and directions.
The consumer can reuse the 8”-high bottles by simply rinsing off the pebbles, washing the bottle in a dishwasher, and popping in a replant kit.
The Bonsai Box by Potting Shed Creations has a contemporary design and the ancient traditions of miniature gardening combined in this collection of specimen trees. Each kit contains all the consumer need to grow an authentic bonsai from seed, sculpting it into a work of living art.
Beside the ancient Dawn redwood tree related to the coastal redwoods of California, and once thought to be extinct, bonsai forest includes tree species chosen for their beauty and fast growth rate. The kit includes tree seed, organic growing medium, bonsai scissors, directions, and a recycled US steel grow box, of which the lid inverts to become a saucer.
But even simplicity can be sophisticated, when we take into account the packaging material used for the in-packaging indoor gardening products.