In the future, technology will become part of our daily life as people will rely so much on it that they won’t be able to detach themselves from devices. Technostress will become a huge concern in the society, especially in San Francisco, the city we have set our scenario, people will live in smaller and smaller rooms and bear the pressure of remote work. The need for Nature will become a huge need for the people in the future; Nature will be almost disappeared and digitalization will make people lose interest in the environment. The re-creation of the bond between humans and Nature will become the way for people to gain a psycho-physical enhancement: our project starts from this and has the purpose to push people to re-discover Nature and plants and bring Nature back in the houses of people.
Our project, Symasya, is a product service system, so it’s composed of a product and a service that revolves around the product. The main concept is to transform the homes into places where plants grow with humans, re-creating the connection between people and Nature. The purpose is then to make people feel a psycho-physical enhancement through the introduction of plants in their house and through taking care of them. The name itself and the brand identity are aimed to recall and represent this conception of Nature in its higher form, representing through a poetic and dreamy tone the idea of recreation of the bond between humans and plants. The name Symasya is a neologism created ad-hoc to represent that. The prefix Sym- in Greek means “together”, it is used in words like “Symbiosis”. The word “Asya” is a verb from the fictional language Quenya (high elvish), created by J.R.R. Tolkien, which means “to ease”, “to comfort”. The usage of this language is not casual: in the narrative, the Elves have a deep connection with Nature, their culture is profoundly attached to it, so using a word from their language means highlighting this connection. The word created “Symasya“ then represent the idea of a bond with Nature that has the purpose to bring benefits to people, and that is the centre of out project.
The product of Symasya is a modular system for growing plants indoor on the walls. The modules are composed of a hexagonal structure fixed on the wall that creates a composable and customizable pattern to be attached to the wall. On the structures, the triangular paper modules are attached through snapping joint. These paper triangles are made with an artificial organic paper pulp soil, a particular mixture of dry paper pulp and nutrients that allow the seeds in it to grow when watered. The material is studied to facilitate the growth of plants, providing the necessary nutrients and facilitating the penetration of water. More specifically the growth modules (the triangles) are composed of compressed paper pulp, coir (coconut fiber), often used to create artificial soil, perlite that makes the soil more porous and helps water to spread and don’t’ stagnate, and in the upper part also fertilizer to help the germination of seeds.
In addition, on the modules, there can be added a lighting system to provide plants a better illumination, in case the homes don’t have the right environment. The light is studied to provide the right frequencies and colours to ease the germination and then the growth of plants.
Customization and adaptability are the two main features that Symasya wants to satisfy, to allow each kind of user to have it and benefit from it. The modular system is in fact designed first to allow the users to customize the product in the way they prefer, to adapt the product to each kind of room, for each dimension of rooms and for each lighting environment: the possibility to place the system on the wall makes it space saving, the modularity makes it easy to manage and change the configuration. Secondly the product is designed to have everything the plant needs to grow, lights and nutrients, and besides the product, the service offers a kit of tools (sprays and trimming scissors): so Symasya is made also for people who don’t have botanic skills, providing everything that a plant and a person need.
Besides the product itself, we have designed a service for exploiting the potentialities of Symasya at its best. The service is composed of two main parts: one related to the product, for creating, customizing and delivering it to users, the second more social, to facilitate the users to use the product.
We have developed an APP platform that make users follow a buying process where they can customize Symasya in the dimension, in the types of plants, in the number of light and colours, to make the product suitable for each user botanic skill, each room, each lighting environment. In this part users can insert the details of the house and their level of expertise in botany, so the software will make personalized suggestions. Once the user has selected the final configuration of the product and the species of plants suitable for its needs and its house, he/she will be able to complete the buying process and delivery, as in a normal e-commerce platform.
The second part of the service is designed to support the usage of Symasya, but, at the same time spread the knowledge about planting and creating a community of users for self-support. This part of the service involves local botanical organizations, so experts in the field that can have the role of technical support, but which can have benefits from the service too. The APP creates a community, like a virtual circle, of users and experts, to popularize and spread plant knowledge. The purpose is to make people help and connect to each other in an open and free way, by sharing advices and experiences. This communication is conceived as a circle of connected people that can share experiences and ask for help, while the experts are kind of moderators of the communities. The partnership with botanical organization can give people the chance also to help these societies by donating plants, when they wish to, and replanting in the botanic gardens, connecting experts and users, creating a circular community of knowledge and plants, and help biodiversity.
First, we have conducted a deep analysis of the situation in California on the point of view of climate change, but also of the lifestyle and social changes. The focus we had was the theme of Nature. We have decided to focus on that, first because of our personal experience, since we found that the lack of nature in our lives is a major problem that people tend to underestimate, and the experience of lockdown has highlighted that. Also from the interviews of experiences of Californians emerged this problem; deeply connected to the urbanization and overpopulation of the city that makes homes very expensive, forcing people to live in small places and the problem of hyper-digitalisation and the increasing trend of remote work, that causes technostress and mental diseases.
From these problems we have found an interesting design opportunity: bringing Nature inside homes. The purpose that we gave ourself was to use Nature to create something to make people feel better at home, making homes a peaceful refuge, not a toxic environment. This challenge is aimed to first help the environment by re-introducing plants in the city and help biodiversity, secondly help people to recover and feel better again. Through this, we wanted to exploit the benefits of plants, on a psychological (stress reduction, increase in productivity and positive emotions) but also physical point of view (sleep improvement, reduction of toxins and radiations, air improvement and reduction of noises), to help people feel better.