Design legend Tom Dixon teamed up with IKEA to explore ways to develop sustainable food growth and consumption within our homes and urban communities, because healthy food should be available to many people.
In order to make a positive impact on what we put on our plates, and hence our planet, Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio along with home furnishings retailer IKEA explored urban farming as they designed an experimental model to grow plants as part of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show that was held in May 2019.
The urban garden explored the dichotomy of the hyper-natural and hyper-tech to encourage an independent approach to gardening.
The garden was split into two levels and featured over 4,000 plants. The base layer was horticultural laboratory where hydroponic technology was implemented, whereas the elevated garden, with a canopy-like ecosystem, turned into a botanic oasis with a natural aesthetic for visitors to immerse themselves in. Upon first impression, the garden looked like a natural hillside landscape, and on closer inspection, the visitors could see a subterranean, and futuristic high-tech garden at play.
Dixon mentioned, “As part of the Chelsea Flower Show, we have designed and realised an experimental model for growing plants in the urban environment. Aiming to give back to cities and create productive landscapes within urban zones, the garden includes a raised modular landscape with edible and medicinal plants and an enclosed based garden fuelled by hydroponic systems and controllable lighting.”
Food is a crucial part of everyday life and the collaborators hoped to inspire everyone for a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle by growing food that has a positive impact on both people and the planet. Together, Tom Dixon and IKEA explored how one can provide sustainable, affordable and forward-thinking solutions that people can use to grow food at home and beyond. The Chelsea Flower Show, for IKEA and Tom Dixon, was not just about the beauty of a garden, but also about bringing attention to the future of the environment and the importance of growing food locally.
“For IKEA, this collaboration is about challenging the way society looks at growing in general and addressing that it’s both possible and rewarding to have a place to grow your own plants in the city,” said James Futcher, creative leader at IKEA Range and Supply.
The garden is a dialogue between traditional planting methods and futuristic ways of horticulture. This is an idea that can translate into a very small area such as a balcony, as well as be scaled up to serve an entire community. The nature of the system lends itself to the square foot gardening method, which maximises the yield available from a small space. It is a very intensive way of gardening but is ideal for urban edibles. This is demonstrated in the crates that sit alongside the raised platform seating area. The more naturalistic planting will still contain edibles, but the method demonstrated throughout these crates are inspired by the forest gardening method, which is a low-maintenance sustainable plant-based food production system based on woodland ecosystems, incorporating fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables.
By contrast, the base layer utilising hydroponic technology will grow a diverse array of edibles. This technology allows plants to be grown indoors under controlled environments all year round. It will include a range of edibles including micro greens and fungi.
Some of the prototypes designed by Dixon will be available at IKEA stores globally from 2021.