From hanging baskets to Woolly Pockets, green walls to palette gardens, vertical gardening is hot. (Just flip through the inspirational Garden Up! by Susan Morrison and Rebecca Sweet to get a sense of how many options there are for smart use of vertical space.)
I recently came across a vertical gardening concept different than anything I’ve seen so far. It’s called Urbio, and it’s a sleek-and-modern-looking system of magnetic pots that, according to the designer, “will help us transform any wall or ferrous surface into a beautiful vertical garden.”
Urbio is comprised of a team of designers lead by Beau Oyler and Jared Aller of Enlisted Design and Tim Cui of Volare Studio, and they are currently on Kickstarter, a crowd-sourced funding platform for creative projects. As of posting, 574 backers had pledged $52,816 toward making the Urbio concept a reality.
Intrigued, I asked creator Beau Oyler for the details on Urbio:
Heavy Petal: Enlisted Design, your product design studio, has a wide range of clients—not just the gardening industry. How did Urbio come about? What inspired the design?
Beau: I’ve lived in apartments, condos, and last year, finally bought a 1014sf house. Everywhere I’ve lived, I grown something. Whether it was herbs in a cup on the window mantle or a potted garden on the porch, I’ve found a place to grow herbs, veggies, flowers, etc. Urbio is the solution I needed all along. Once the idea was expressed, the design team branched out to urban gardeners in their sphere of influence and questioned the concept. Their findings and our design and development skills combined to create a fun product!
Each pot is made of eco-plastic and is equipped with large neodymium magnets that are strong enough to hold almost anything to the wall, or to each other. Stick ‘em together for a neat vase or centerpiece.
Heavy Petal: With more and more people becoming interested in gardening, it seems small-space gardens are becoming the norm, and vertical gardening is one of the best ways to use space wisely. How does Urbio solve some of those small-space issues?
Beau: Urbio is modular; it fits your lifestyle, your space, your wall. Urbio vessels can stick to any ferrous metallic surface, as well as to the wall plates that can easily be mounted to a non-metallic wall. So you can have Urbio vessels all over your fridge, or one 10″ plate with a couple of vessels on your wall or even an entire wall full of plates and vessels to make a living wall.
Heavy Petal: You’ve more than reached your Kickstarter funding goal; what’s next for Urbio?
Beau: We are so grateful to the Kickstarter community for their support and excitement for Urbio! We are in discussions for manufacturing at the moment and once we decide on a vendor, we’ll be manufacturing and shipping product ASAP. We have so many other rad ideas for Urbio, depending on the total amount pledged on Kickstarter over the next [several] days, we may be able to start offering even more magically magnetic products.
Heavy Petal: How does drainage work? Is there a drainage hole?
Beau: There’s no hole. We found that current indoor vertical garden products can be messy and the last thing our users want is mud streaming down their walls. We did a controlled environment test and the best growing environment turned out to be a drain-less vessel with a generous amount of pumice laid into the pot before planting.
Heavy Petal: Urbio is described as made of “eco-plastic.” What is that?
Beau: We’re committed to offering an affordable eco-friendly solution. We’re looking at a number of different types of recycled plastics and manufacturing techniques that will give us the product quality we want, the cost we need, in a solution that will still let us sleep at night.
Heavy Petal: What’s the deal with the mounting plates? Are those totally optional? What kind of functionality do they add?
Beau: The mounting plates are rad, they allow the user to hang Urbio on a normal (drywall) wall. Otherwise, you can hang Urbio on the fridge, table, or any type of metal. [Note: You can also use the wall mount "pucks," shown above.]
Interested? Check out (and pledge to buy) Urbio on Kickstarter. (In particular, you should check out the video, if only because Beau is a total cutie.) I’m already imagining the places I could put Urbio to use!