How do you journey from a brown bag to a microgardening social platform? Discover Urban Acre, the world's smartest microgarden, social network, and marketplace. For the first time, the expanding microgardening community has both a brand and platform to unite and stand on.
A speculative project where I was tasked with redesigning the next object I threw out both as a product and an app.
Having thrown out a brown paper bag, I felt myself repeatedly drawn to the notion of the brown paper bag as it relates to food. On one hand, brown paper bags are a symbol of take-out — a generally unhealthy food option. However, they also symbolize home-cooked meals and groceries – typically associated with healthier food options.
Exploring this tension, I visited the grocery store several times utilizing the eye of a critical designer. I was struck by the amount of “fresh” food that was slowly wasting away simply because people had no need for it. This led me to gardening, where people simply grow what they need and harvest it right then and there. Motivated by my current living situation in New York City, I narrowed my focus to the current trend of microgardening – those small windowsill and rooftop gardens growing fresh food for urban dwellers.
Microgardening is by no means a new phenomenon, as it has many devout practitioners worldwide. However, there is no current widespread branding or means of connecting these disparate microgardeners. This is where I chose to focus my attention.
I envisioned an overarching brand – Urban Acre – that would provide both physical products paired with a digital app. The physical products, for which I also created packaging, include seeds as well as a smart garden box that connects to your phone and tracks statistics such as crop growth and health through the app. The application would also provide a social network through which fellow microgardeners could connect, buy, sell and donate excess food within their city. After mocking up both the physical and digital prototypes of Urban Acre, I concluded by creating the speculative marketing campaign for the brand.
The Divided States of America
Team Leader: Arjun Kalyanpur
Design Team: Arjun Kalyanpur, Will Crum, Juho Lee, Dayoung Hong, Antriksh Nangia
Secession is deeply rooted in the American identity. On the day of arguably the most divisive election in US History, on the High Line in Manhattan, The Divided States of America sought to challenge the assumptions and beliefs we make about our country and one another.
From our original separation from Britain that led to the Revolutionary War to the fight over slavery that started the American Civil War, the process of splitting a nation apart when domestic diplomacy fails is engrained in our national DNA. Regions are already divided on several issues—food, music, accents, political views; the list goes on. In an increasingly divided and vitriolic political climate, secessionist movements are gaining traction.
Our installation asked participants to imagine how the United States of America might split up based on different hot button issues such as climate change, immigration, gun control, marriage equality, and abortion access. People randomly selected one of these issues (“pick a card, any card”) and then used markers to draw their ‘projection’ on a large dry erase map of the United States. As an added twist, state boundaries were removed from the map, forcing participants to call on their own geographical knowledge while drawing.
Once finished, actual state lines were revealed via a transparent overlay. At this point, users were introduced to today’s ‘real’ maps of how the US is divided on these issues—typically a color-coded portrayal of differences in legislative policy around each issue.
By forcing users to make tangible generalizations on our map, we held a mirror up to our collective assumptions and revealed how inaccurate they often are. While many users were pleasantly surprised at the ‘accuracy’ of their state lines, the most common sentiment evinced from the real map reveal was one of surprise and incredulity.
Two high school-aged girls were asked to envision the ‘access to abortions’ map. Their map displayed coasts that were okay with abortions, while the "flyover" middle-of-the-country states were not. They were shocked to discover that there are at least 2-4 barriers to access in every state besides Vermont, and that it is similarly difficult across much of the country.
The girls underlined one of the key themes from the day which would later prove true in the election: the coasts are seen as different than and disconnected from the rest of the country.
A 20-page exploration in typography, book layout and design given the word prompt "container".
The term container can be applied to an innumerable number of things, both physical and figurative. Given "container" as a prompt, we were asked to create a 20-page book exploring the concept in any way we saw fit. I have always loved food, and as I thought about the word "container", my mind immediately jumped to dumplings. I realized every culture and cuisine has a form of the "dumpling" -- a piece of food contained within another. I have also always been fascinated by the food culture in New York City as well as the sheer diversity of food that can be found on just a single street.
These two interests combined to form "21st &", an exploration of the different types of food that can be found at every intersection of 21st Street in New York. I walked from the Hudson River to the East River along 21st, taking photos and, in some cases, purchasing the various forms of dumplings found on every block.
The resulting book is a typographical street map of 21st street and the intersecting Avenues, each naming a single restaurant that can be found serving some type of dumpling.
Off The Wall: Exploring the intersection of graffiti and street art
As a member of the Off The Wall collateral committee, I was jointly responsible for the naming, branding, graphic design and creation of posters, invitations and thank you cards for the gallery event.
For 15 weeks, our class took a Design Research and Integration course at IDEO New York. The purpose was to tutor us in human-centered design with respect to a specific topic – in our case, it was the relationship between graffiti, street art and society at large.
At the conclusion of our project, the class unanimously decided to hold a one-night gallery event showcasing our work. In addition to creating the content within the show, the class was also responsible for creating, coordinating, branding and advertising the event itself.
My colleague, Oscar Pipson, and I were responsible for the event collateral – namely branding the event and then creating show graphics to go up in the gallery, posters to advertise the event, and thank you cards to send to our guests afterwards.
Oscar and I decided to call the event “Off the Wall: An exploration of graffiti and street art”, referencing the discovery that graffiti and street art are much more than wall-based creations, but instead are dense topics that intersect with government, corporations, and the public at large.
An exploration of form, design, and development in the creation of a "desk hack" object, outlined by the design constraints that it must attach to a 1.30" diameter pipe running along our desks and be able to support load. Skills learned and utilized include designing, analyzing, prototyping, and building in three dimensions. I challenged myself to build a curved shelf that would float in space on two machine screws connected to the pipe.
Transitions had three ideals at its core -- first, to understand the importance of prototyping and analyzing artifacts in three dimensions; second, to observe and understand the significance of each dimension as it relates to another in space; and lastly, of those unique opportunities for elegant design at the interaction points of two disparate objects -- the eponymous "transitions".
The desk hack project was meant to tangibly summarize these beliefs through the creation of an object that had to be attached to the pipes running along our desks in the PoD studio. For my project, given both the volume of books and large amount of work we do in a short time in the PoD program, I wanted to build a shelf on which to hold all this output.
However, as I lacked a large amount of experience in the shop, I wanted to challenge myself to build something unique. During my ideation sketching phase, I drew a simple wave that appealed to me due to the simplicity and elegance it displayed.
In order to create this shape, I drew my desired shape on a plank of pine wood, stacked to equally sized planks together, and cut the shape out with the jigsaw and router table. This produced 4 pieces -- two "positive" and two "negative" -- that I then spanned with smaller wooden blocks. This effectively created a mold. I then bought 1/8" flexible plywood, cut it into strips, glued the strips together and clamped them between the two halves of the mold. I was then able to trim and sand the shelf down to a produce a seamless curved shelf.
I drilled two holes for the machine screws, which themselves threaded into clamps attached to the pipe. Lastly, I created bookends by scroll sawing out slots in two pieces of wood that could freely slide along the curve without the use of any other connection pieces.
Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Dry Oil and Cream
The Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Collection was the first project I worked on as a member of the design team for La Prairie, as well as the most robust.
Typically, my projects for La Prairie consisted of helping design a new package for an existing product line - Caviar, Platinum, and so on. Usually, the aesthetic for these projects had precedent from existing items within their respective lines.
The goal of the Ice Crystals project was to create an entirely new product line for La Prairie, starting with a 30ml Dry Oil and 50ml Cream. These products would be at the forefront of the new Ice Crystals Collection and, as such, had to establish their own unique aesthetic and brand identity.
In addition to the primary products, our team also designed, engineered and developed the entire packaging experience – including sample tubes, informational inserts, folding cartons, decorative sleeves, and so on. We do this for all La Prairie products.
Our design brief was to create a line of packages that evoked themes of ice, frost, and crystals while maintaining the signature La Prairie look of luxury and simplicity. We went through several iterations, varying both the iconic La Prairie ring/bead as well as the main barrel, seen in my early design sketches of the Oil Product.
Ultimately, we accomplished our goal by injection molding a PCTG plastic outer shell streaked with ice shards. Silver paper placed behind the plastic gives the luxurious yet elegant look of the final packages.
The Ice Crystal Cream afforded us a unique opportunity to add an extra touch of luxury through our continuation of the Ice Crystal motif in the bulk-sealing disc seen in the photo. This area of the package is typically overlooked, and we felt it added a little extra touch of richness for the consumer to appreciate.
Cellular Eye Essence Platinum Rare
The Platinum Collection is La Prairie's most luxurious line, and the latest item to be launched within it is the Cellular Eye Essence Platinum Rare 30ml.
The Platinum Collection's signature look was well established by the time I joined the team that designs La Prairie packages, so there was slightly less outside-the-box thinking required to help develop and launch this product.
Despite that, the team still found room to innovate by adding a plated metal ball to the end of the dropper applicator. This addition helped the package evoke themes of the precious metal the product is named after while simultaneously giving it that luxury look that La Prairie is known for. As an added benefit, the ball provides a wonderful cooling effect on the skin during application.
Skin Caviar Liquid Lift Limited Edition
La Prairie's popular Skin Caviar Liquid Lift is a unique two-phase treatment item unlike any other on the market. At the press of a button, a special barrier--positioned to keep the two items separate--immediately vanishes, allowing the customer to mix the two treatment products at a time of their choosing.
Liquid Lift was only sold as a 50ml package until recently, when it launched in this Limited Edition 30ml size.
Our team's goal was to maintain the iconic look and function of the original 50ml item while reducing the size to accommodate the new 30ml product. Having the look already established, there was not as much aesthetic and packaging design work to be done on this project compared to the others I helped on.
However, a lot of intensive engineering work still occurred in order to ensure proper functionality of the package's many moving parts in a smaller footprint.
Skin Caviar Liquid Lift Replica
The Skin Caviar Liquid Lift Replica is the free sample size of the Skin Caviar Liquid Lift Limited Edition 30ml and normally sold 50ml.
Despite it's small size, the Liquid Lift 7ml was a complicated project in that it had to maintain the same purpose and aesthetic as it's larger brothers. Namely, the SCLL 7ml had to 1.) keep the two different formulations separate until the customer decides to mix them, and 2.) show off the beautiful golden beads that would eventually dissolve into the fully formed mixture.
Our team solved this in a very novel way. Rather than attempt to re-create the button-operated functionality of the 30ml and 50ml sizes, we decided to create a rotating base that the customer can twist. When the customer aligns the arrow on the base with its counterpart on the main barrel, the two treatment items become free to mix with one another.
In addition to helping design the aesthetic and functionality of this item, I also helped sketch out the initial drafts of the instructional artwork for both the primary package and the folding carton, which the Art Department then refined into what can be seen on the production pieces.