Bloom: Design Thinking with The Garden Apartment
Makers gonna make, or so goes the saying of a new generation of DIYers, crafters, and artisans. What's old is new and the habit of upcycling is de rigueur again. No doubt this renewal comes from a longing to do something with our hands other than tap a phone screen or keyboard. To create a product from scratch, to solve a problem, to get our hands dirty. Hosting Bloom was partly about this longing that seems to come on especially strong as spring approaches. Clean, plant, sort, create — our hands itch to be free from gloves and pockets to create beauty.
It was this kind of fresh design thinking that brought The Garden Apartment into existence. Swiss Miriam Josi and Australian Stella Lee Prowse met during their time at Parsons The New School For Design. As roommates, their own garden apartment's failure to flourish helped them problem solve a for a growing issue: a disconnect between consumer and agriculture in urban areas. They created their first product, the Nomad planter, to be adaptable and mobile for growing herbs in any space. "The idea is that you don't need a garden apartment to have a garden in your apartment."
Stella and Miriam hand make their products from scrap boat sails and boat covers. The materials are locally sourced from the post-production waste of sailmakers in the Bronx. The minimal construction is collapsible and shipped in a flat envelope.
At the start of their workshop, Stella and Miriam encouraged design thinking and lowered inhibitions by leading a quick draw session. They asked for sketches of types of planters called out in quick succession: made out of food, soft planters, cute planters, tall planters. The attendees were game and the drawings flowed.
Next, everyone chose their favorite design to prototype with paper. This was a great way to test the design before cutting into the sailcloth.
After attendees settled on their design, they chose their sailcloth and began cutting. The pieces took shape under the guidance of Stella and Miriam who roamed the space helping and answering questions.
Origami-like construction and a couple of grommets were used to hold the pieces of sailcloth together. Miriam helped everyone hammer the grommets to complete their planters.
The finished planters were ready to be of service. The attendees planted succulents and the seeds Gloria B. Collins sent as a gift. Tufts of Spanish moss filled in the space and trailed over the edges.
Like Alden said about the flower crowns, it's cool to see how everyone creates something different out of the same materials. Stella and Miriam said, "We were glad to see everyone getting out of their comfort zones hammering away and creating some pretty wild looking planters. It was interesting to watch how creative people got in dealing with the restrictions of the materials and tools supplied."
I want to thank Stella and Miriam of The Garden Apartment for sharing their skills and knowledge with us. I also want to thank Debra Prinzing of Slow Flowers for her support and guidance. Thanks to Ariana of Mode Marteau — her studio was again our beautiful venue and provided gorgeous natural light. Thank you to the NYC Ethical Writers Alden, Emma, Juliette, and Jacquelyn for their support and help with the event. Florist Gloria B. Collins provided attendees with seed packets to take home. And thank you to everyone who attended!