2011-14 – Design and Development of a Single Household Farming Kit

irrigation / social impact design / tools / tunnel / urban ag

A research project undertaken in partial fulfilment of the requirements of an MTech: Industrial Design at the University of Johannesburg by Kyle Brand from 2011 – 2014, supervised by Angus Donald Campbell and co-supervised by Dr. Naudé Malan. The project was inspired by his BTech: Industrial Design (Honors) final project, the Seboko tunnel (which I also supervised). Kyle’s first concept presentation for the research project can be viewed here. The final dissertation was submitted in Jan 2014 and as soon as it is available for dissemination I will upload a link to the final document. 

One of the greatest social problems we face as society as a whole and South Africa in particular, is food insecurity. Food insecurity manifests itself in many forms and has a dramatic impact on the wellbeing of people. People need food to survive, but often the food systems they rely on are vulnerable to price shocks and changes, which in turn diminishes their resilience. Local food systems are crucial in reducing vulnerability and improving food security. But often the tools used are not appropriate, especially for household farming. In this study design is used to bring about considered change in the area of household food security, by addressing the tools used for household farming. Household farming is not a typical focus for designers, but well-designed tools could have a dramatic influence on the ability of a household to have a more productive food garden therefore well designed tools is a valuable place for design to be applied. The design intervention of a Household Farming Kit (HFK) and its development is explored. The methods used for the design and development are human-centric in nature, but also acknowledge the opportunity for the designer to have a meaningful influence on the final outcome. The influence could be toward more environmentally sound farming practices. The process adopted used the development of a series of prototype iterations which were evaluated by participants to recommend the alteration or changing of the prototypes. Three phases of prototypes were developed and evaluated, with each building on the knowledge gained from the previous. These were tested predominantly in two locations: Noordgesig outside Johannesburg and Kanana in the North West province in South Africa. The evaluations by the farmers who participated in this study were essential in the development process, in order for the designs to be appropriate to their needs. This study had a very practical focus, with the development of the Household Farming Kit, but it also had a strong methodological focus, experimenting with methods used to design products in a developmental context. The successes and failures of the study are documented in order to contribute to the field of Industrial Design, specifically design research in the area of Design for Development.

Visit Kyle’s website for more info here and download the final MTech: Industrial Design dissertation document here