Little pots in a kitchen window filled with growing herbs and vegetables look so quaint compared to an Italian design firm's wheel-shaped countertop garden. The idea for their stylish, compact hydroponic plant system originated with NASA.
Milan-based design firm DesignLibero's "Green Wheel" is essentially a plant-growing appliance that works with help from gravity. The wheel rotates plants potted inside around a light while a pump automatically irrigates them. Tiny vases containing coco fiber support more than eight feet of plants and its roots, according to DesignLibero.
NASA originally came up with the rotary garden concept in the 1980s as a way to feed fresh produce to astronauts in space, but the agency never took it all the way. Instead, a number of similar rotary growing systems have been available commercially for a long time — see the Canadian "Volksgarden" — but none of them look quite this sharp. DesignLibero head Libero Rutilo described the object as "an iconic garden object for residential use, like a TV," to Fast Company Co.Design writer Mark Wilson.
"It helps you to grow your own fresh herbs and vegetables without leaving home," the designer writes on the firm's site. He also argues that produce from the Green Wheel also reduces transportation and cuts packaging. In the winter, a rotary hydroponic system like this could prevent avid living lettuce buyers like me from having to take all those trips to the grocery store.
As much as a rotary garden solves problems, the components and energy required to run it do introduce new ones. Still, if you've got plenty of cash and want a sculptural element for your house that's also functional, this could be your ticket. Nobody is saying exactly how much the wheel costs or how you can get one, though.
Poking around the DesignLibero site, I discovered that they also created an object called "Fluidity" that serves as both a stylish dish drainer and a plant container that catches all those drips from freshly rinsed plates. Preventing funky gunk under the dish rack while saving water: That's green design I can definitely roll with.
Photo: The Green Wheel hydroponic growing system. Credit: DesignLibero