Terrarium 🌳

A Case Study

A live, group project with Vertical Veg in Newcastle. This collaboration was set up by the Design Department at Northumbria Universtiy

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The Brief

Design a service that builds meaningful and reciprocal relationships between older people in the community who can share their knowledge of urban food growing with their local community.

Understanding the task

Our team took a visit to the Vertical Veg community garden in Newcastle.

We interviewed volunteers and community garderners to find out how the group worked, conversed and organised themselves.

Establishing the current structure.

Based on our conversations with users, we had an idea of where there was an opportunity to improve member relationships:

There is no way to encourage or even tell if there is conversation between members.

Experienced growers already communicate with the community garden volunteers, as do inexperienced growers and the volunteers, but there is no way to encourage conversation between the grower groups.

Space for a solution...

As a team, we headed back to the studio and got thinking...

The brief wanted us to develop a relationship between the two growers groups, but we realised that for that to work we also had to loop in the community garden volunteers

By including the volunteers in the conversation, they would be able to organise events to encourage the relationships and track successes and failures.

Generating a few ideas

After some brainstorming, we had three concepts which we presented to our classmates and tutors.

Here's the transcripts for elevator pitches we gave for each idea...

Terrarium 🌳

Users create a digital replica of their existing garden or build a garden they are aspiring to create and then collaborate with each other to meet their goals.

Plant Pals 🔥

A mentorship program with a Tinder style interface. Plant Pals connects experienced growers with inexperienced growers through a digital mentorship program.

Veg Voice Assistant 🗣️

Users pose a question to the specially designed voice assistant which relays the question to connected assistants in the community.

As you probably got from the title of this project, we chose Terrarium

We came to this decision as a group but also feedback from classmates and tutors leant towards Terrarium.

Creating Terrarium

User Story

We developed a user journey of how an inexperienced gardener might discover the Terrarium App.

App Identity

User Testing

By this point, we'd created a few variations of the app and tested it with users. Their feedback was that the functionality and concept were good, but the interface was a little dull.

We created and added 'organic shapes' to some of the screens to add a bit of fun, personality and a unique style.

App Screens

Here's a selection of the final app screens.
Check out the video below to see how it all works together ⬇️


As mentioned throughout, this project was a team effort with Grace Hill, Ellis Paul and Yen Ho. This was a live project with researchers at Northumbria University.