For my final project in Soil as Medium, I followed through on my proposal for a worm bin designed to look like a pile of compost. Here it is, pictured below:
My first idea for a final project was to take the “fake compost fake rock” from my midterm project and make it real. After a little more thought, I decided that I wanted to deal with the action of composting more directly. Getting people to cover up unsightly pipes in their yards with an equally unsightly fake pile of compost is funny, but I’d like to work on something that is ultimately productive.
As a variation on the theme of things-that-look-other-versions-of-themselves (I associate such items with museum gift stores), I’m going to modify an indoor compost bin to look like an outdoor compost pile. In ReNatured we frequently talked about the frustrating idea that “nature” is something separate from the streets, sidewalks, parks and empty lots that form our urban environment. I hope that this project will help to break down that divide. (And I’ve also been meaning to start composting in my apartment, so this solves that problem too!)
My intended audience for this project are those whose vision of good design means clean, expensive and high-polish. By playing around functionally (but not formally) in the museum-gift-store-product vernacular I want to show first that the appearance of a compost pile is nothing to be afraid of and second that it’s mostly a non-issue with a worm bin anyway.
My materials will be the Worm Factory composting kit and custom-printed vinyl stickers that I will cut and apply to the Worm Factory. I’ve ordered the worm kit, so the remaining weeks will involve designing the stickers and then printing, cutting and applying them to the worm bin. Tangentially related will be my own use of the worm bin, which I hope to get set up once it arrives.
We had a quick midterm for Soil as Medium, for which the assignment was to make a speculative design piece dealing with some of the issues we’ve covered so far in the class. Between this class and the Fungus Among Us, I’ve been thinking about how I can acknowledge the complexities of the many interacting systems that we humans would prefer to simplify.
I am reminded of the perennial favorite SkyMall, purveyors of everything from PajamaJeans to a combo smartphone charger/UV-sanitizer. SkyMall commoditizes our dreams of the Good Life in most high-end fashion, sparing no modern problem from the simplifying power of technology. Lawncare is, of course, one of those modern problems, but one in which oversimplification of the problem has proved harmful enough to disturb a refined yet delicate system.
For my midterm assignment, I’ve redesigned four SkyMall home and garden offerings to be a little more aware of the complexities of soil science. All images can be enlarged by clicking.