The Personal Fresh Air desk is part of my personal thesis project defended in December 2009. Awarded the Allumonde Ring for social relevance and nominated for the Melkweg Prize, the project was shown representing the Design Academy Eindhoven during the Milan Furniture Fair 2010 and received great press coverage.
Researchers from India have proved that we can “grow” all the fresh air we need to keep us healthy. In fact, with a combination of three common indoor plants one person could live in a hermetically sealed space and would not die for lack of fresh air. Experiments in a New Delhi office building have shown the potential of this idea, substantially decreasing incidences of eye and respiratory symptoms, headaches, lung impairment and asthma. This desk was designed so we could practically apply this concept of “growing” fresh air in our offices.
The desk’s structure forms a hydroponic system that feeds the twelve plants. It makes the caretaking of the plants practical and clean. The soil is replaced by white hydro stones, which retain water for a longer time, reducing the need for watering. The plants not only produce fresh air, but also act as a partition wall reducing noise and visual pollution while keeping the occupant comfortably focused. With the addition of several of these desks the office environment becomes tranquil and alive.
For the prototype, an MDF mold was milled and then a translucent sheet of PET was vacuum formed. The structure of the desk was made of steel tubes, copper pipes and brass connections.
I took a hands-on approach to materialize this project. I developed mockups and functional models to evaluate shapes, proportions and mechanisms.
I produced scale models to visualize early concepts.
The study that was the foundation for this project is presented in a TED lecture by Kamal Meattle. The juxtaposition of natural/artificial and indoor/outdoor were my main sources of inspiration. Alternative plant cultivation methods, specifically different hydroponic systems, also played a big role, informing the design of the desk.
The Personal Fresh Air desk is part of my personal thesis project defended in December 2009.