Posts filed under ‘Diseño Productos/Product Design’

Reflection on Entrepreneurship. Ideas to Reality. The Critical Story Behind Creating Self-Watering Seed-Starters

Blog 13_OrtaPic: Anne Fletcher’s Self-Watering Seed-Starter (Orta)

Studying in the States, I’ve been exposed extensively to entrepreneurship. Most of my good friends with good ideas make them work and turn them into reality. The entrepreneur spirit is in all of those who work hard, and believe that they have something to improve others daily living. This is what happened with my friend Anne Fletcher, instructor at the D.School and consultant. After showing off her entrepreneur skills in Chile’s surfing context, she came back to the States, and here, she is doing it once again. Meet her dream of helping others to keep seedlings alive. But is not that easy! There are pitfalls and a-ha moments! It is always good to hear a real story and reflection, overall from someone who is critical and has a vision behind it. Here is what she tells us about her quest:

-. I find hope in planting seeds .-
Terracotta self-watering seed-starters will keep your seedlings alive even if you ignore them a little! Before I started making terracotta seed-starters in my garage, I killed a lot of seedlings.  In the delicate seedling phase, plants need gentle watering every single day, twice a day if it’s hot outside. With long hours and work travel, sometimes it just wasn’t possible for me to keep those baby plants alive. About a year ago I had an idea for a new way to solve this problem.  I invented a terracotta self watering seed-starter with a reservoir for water, and porous walls that keeps seedlings happy for about a week between waterings. After debuting my invention last September, I started selling out all the production runs I could make in my garage.  I found some local artisans here in California to help me meet the growing demand.

Now I’m working on a new, bigger model.  The 12-pack allows you to grow bigger seedlings, and more of them.  Big is great for the plants, but it’s too much for me to handle in the garage.  I’m doing a Kickstarter project to raise the funds to make the 12-pack a reality by paying for professional mold-making, and working with manufacturing partners in California. This project partly comes from a desire to keep my plants alive in a pretty package on the windowsill – there’s no denying that.  But there’s another deeper reason.

As a designer, I struggle all the time with the visions of apocalyptic futures that experts say are coming if we don’t change our consumption habits.  When I ponder the designer’s role in all this (as creator of objects people desire, and sometimes as creators of the desire itself), I feel a mental paralysis.  It’s extremely difficult to balance both being aware of what we humans are doing to ourselves, and yet stay positive enough to have the energy to make positive changes.  In a world sharply divided between doom-and-gloom apocalysm and head-in-the-sand optimism, we designers need a new way forward.  I can’t ignore the reality of our current situation, yet I also can’t create positive change from a place of fear and pessimism. -. I find hope in planting seeds .- (more…)


June 25, 2013 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

Cycling Social Innovation Part 2: Cuba

Continuing with the series of posts about equality fostered by bicycles [Check out the part 1 post: Cycling in Morocco], I wanted to  add some other ethno-photographs regarding a series of “usage innovations or self-crafted adaptations” that are, in this case, portraying Cubans [Taken on a “road trip” from Havana to Santiago de Cuba and the Keys]. And Cuba affords a not very common setting. Not only for it’s political standing, but because there are constraints that oblige people to make what they can form the things they have available on the island. A huge contrast with the excessive use planned obsolescence of industrial designs present in countries like the States, France or Spain. Nonetheless, the “commuting” context in Cuba is not easy. Roads are full of holes, individuals wait for hours for any transportation for getting from one place to another which can make a day-to-day journey harder than what we are used to. Yet, innovation driven by scarcity does happen in this context… and you can even get a hole in your tire fixed with a “condom” [no kidding], which thanks to the State birth control policies, are cheaper to get than a rubber repair kit for your bike. In the end it’s still a polymer no? Still, patterns arise when comparing the cycling behaviors of Cubans, Chileans, West Africans and even in the States…. They will be visible as other posts are revealed. [All pictures taken by CM ]

Commuting is not really easy….

Over-use of the bike [a bicycle built for two?]


August 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm 1 comment

Designing for real autonomy

Pic: Weekday Market in Weichau, Ghana [CM]

Mobility and the possibility to be ubiquitous should be afforded by the so called “mobile devices”… yet, how autonomous are they? Are batteries meant to last? Are they rechargeable? These pictures where taken in Weichau, Ghana. Close to the frontier with Burkinafaso. Even though the non-autonomy of these artifacts allows the start-up of small entrepreneurs who find the way to make business profit out of it… are these products being democratic enough? Pic: Accra, Ghana. Check on the small sign “We Charge Phones” [CM]

People in rural areas, that do not have access to electricity, are obliged to pay in the day-market for a battery recharge provided by a diesel generator. They actually end paying more than they should, and the usage of their mobile devices is limited. The mobile telephone industry could consider considering the impact they have in places like Ghana [where you can find cell-phone antennas everywhere]. They should afford the real mobility and autonomy of their products if they are really committed to fulfill the needs of these markets [which are not exactly the same that the European or North American ones…]
Pic: Market, Weichau [CM]

March 30, 2011 at 8:35 am Leave a comment

Cycling Social Innovation- Part 1:Morocco

I’ve heard a dozen of times that bicycles foster equality. And actually, I do believe in this statement. Being a cyclist-commuter in my own lands, I have become part of the “obliged” car use here in the States. But back home, in Santiago de Chile [even though, different from what happens in the Netherlands, the population is not really educated towards a bicycle-friendly philosophy] cyclists entail an heterogeneous group of individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Theft and drivers are the downside of biking, at least in Santiago de Chile. Yet, there are well-known community based movements like the “Furiosos Ciclistas” [angry cyclists] that fight for the cyclist’s local rights. In my obsession regarding design and this egalitarian mean of transportation, I’ve been photographing a series of “usage innovations or self-crafted adaptations” coming from different individuals around the world. This first piece is from Morocco 2010 [Marrakech, Casablanca, TizNit, Taroudant, Rabat & Dakhla]. [All pictures taken by CM.]


March 25, 2011 at 4:32 am 1 comment

Global Mamas, re-using for change [Ghana]

Photo: Mali, frontier with Burkina Faso [CMiranda] Pencil Case made of re-used water sachets [CM]
Not long ago, one of the professors at NC State, working in the Ghana abroad program had mentioned the existence of the organization: “Global Mamas”. I was pretty pleased, as I arrived in Accra, to verify the great work they are doing. One of the product lines that caught my attention were the recycled ones categorized under “trashy bags”. There is even a particular NGO just dedicated to this area. These women are not just manufacturing products with reused materials [remember there is a big difference between recycle and re-use. Re-using is even better than recycling as it requires no energy to turn mater into another form], but creating a whole selling experience out of it [not to speak about the benefits of small and successful entrepreneurship].

They reuse, mainly, plastic bags coming from the consumption of the lovely Fan Milk products [ice cream packaged in a cheap Polypropylene bag] and purified water sachets.Photo: Trash in drains, Cape Coast, Ghana [CMiranda]

Both of this Bottom of the Pyramid consuming products just cost a few cents [literally, water sachets cost less than 10]. Why getting a 1 dollar water bottle if (more…)

August 23, 2010 at 2:25 pm 4 comments

There is potential in using Design and “making physical models” in education

Photos: Mauritania, Oasis Legueila, (CMiranda)

The concept of “Learning with design” is more popular than what normally people think. Nonetheless, this concept can be linked to the Understanding by Design methodology (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998). This methodology is really complex, and it involves themes and stances on curriculum planning,  progress monitoring and knowledge assessment.

Considering that nobody reads a blog when it is too long, it seems interesting to us to share some “natural and innate” examples of kids and sophisticated “model making” found in Mauritania (Legueila is an oasis located in the region of “Atar” in Mauritania. There, families come to make their living out of the collection and selling of “dates“) and in Saint Louis, Senegal. These examples show how kids build and create “models” innately. In these cases, in the form of toys. Shortsighted, we can consider these toys as the “new toys for the ones that cannot access to them”. On the other hand, we can look at these toys with the potential to be models.

Models, as we’ve pointed before in the blog, are a mean to embody knowledge. They can help make complexity more manageable. These models, as these examples show, do not need to be sophisticated (as the candy models that some schools in the States use to teach biology in schools). They can work with anything you have at hand: a can, two (more…)

June 16, 2010 at 7:13 pm 2 comments

Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability- Stanford 2010

Pablo Fernandez (Chilean, MA Stanford) Reports:
Picture: Pablo Fernandez
Stanford is widely known because of Google, Sun Microsystems and other technologies breakthrough (like the new number one app for Ipad; Pulse). Amazing things who have made their inventors rich (and also Stanford; all the students have to sign an agreement where they agree to share part of their revenues).
However, there are another kind of breaktrough technologies, who are not focused on Ipad´s fan, Internet’s leaders or even wealthy and rich people (more…)

June 14, 2010 at 10:17 am Leave a comment

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contact + citing (CC license)

Constanza Miranda PhD(c) design.anthro
* Currently @ DILAB
* Ex.VR @ Stanford's Center for Design Research [DesignXLab]
* Ex.Instructor @ PUC Chile [Design+Engineering]
Use citations ¡Citar es ético!
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Design for Social Innovation initiative by Constanza Miranda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at