How can children connect with nature when they live in a city? That’s the question Jared Aller and Beau Oyler, the founders of Enlisted Design, asked themselves. In an urban environment such as Oakland, California, where their team is based, it’s not that easy. “None of us had a place to garden or to interact with nature inside our houses,” says Oyler of the inspiration for Urbio, the design firm’s magnetic modular system created for indoor gardens. “We began doing research and mock-ups. The whole design process took about six months of designing prototype after prototype after prototype.”
The initial challenge was how to create a wall-mounted system without using fixtures: Jared suggested magnets. Still, another question remained—what to do about drainage. “We made six prototypes of all different types of drainage—from holes dripping all over to a straw coming up and out,” says Oyler. They found the solution, a material called Perlite, in an unexpected place—hydroponic gardens. Here the partners talk about their trials, errors, and finally, successes, in the process of creating an urbanite’s ideal garden.