Fertilizer Storage

This design challenge addresses a complex social and environmental problem regarding the fertilization ecosystem of residential lawn care. The goal was to research, conceptualize, and propose a solution for the holistic task of transporting, storing, and dispensing dry fertilizer.

My solution are convertible carriers that drop into a dispenser and storage shelf. The dispenser and shelf move up and down along a rail that is mounted to the wall.


User Research / Persona / Design Criteria

The project began with a variety of interviews that prompted people from different areas to analyze their habits, motivations, and products surrounding lawn care.


After diagraming the tasks, values, and goals of the users, the next step was to synthesize key insights from this information and let it inspire a persona and context for the project.


Exploration / Concept Development

After researching existing products and systems for managing fertilizer, I generated a range of ideas for adaptable transportation and controlled dispensing. The concept I pursued is an unfolding container that opens to accept the fertilized bag and closes around it, as well as pierces it from within.


These initial models and sketches helped me better understand how the piercing mechanism would both be able to open the fertilizer bag and cut off the flow. I prototyped at full scale a model of the unfolding bag and the dispenser with an internal spike.


Next, I conceptualized how the dispenser would fit onto a wall-mounted track that would allow it to be lowered or raised for easier loading and dispensing.


After making the first full representation of the products, I realized that the mechanism for piercing the bag was still unresolved. If the spike was a part of the dispenser, there would be nothing to seal the bag as a self contained unit that could then be removed from the dispenser and stored on the shelf above. As such, I worked to devise a system in which the spike would be an internal mechanism in the base of the unfolding bag instead.


Brand Research: Dyson

As my concept started to take on general anatomy and proportions, I started to analyze the brand language that I would draw inspiration from. I chose Dyson because they have a very distinct and exciting visual language, and because I wanted the challenge of designing for a brand that doesn’t deal in this type of product already. Below is an analysis of the aesthetics an semantics of some of Dyson’s popular products.



I drew inspiration from Dyson’s use of chamfers around elliptical forms, transitions from cylindrical forms to flatter surfaces, and the anatomy of the internal motors in the vacuums. I also noted that red was used to indicate precise touchpoints, while the neon color was meant to indicate the point where the functionality was happening(the motor in the vacuum or the origin of the air from the fan). In order to adapt these features to my products, I created an orthographic drawing of the internal mechanism and then ideated various form factors over it.



The final form consists of a purple internal motor to operate the piercing spike, surrounded by a glass chamber that the fertilizer can fall through. The dispenser and shelf feature bi-laterally symmetric handles with red triggers to engage the up or down motion. The red button on the front face is the touchpoint that allows you to dispense fertilizer—These examples begin to illustrate how I was able to adapt both Dyson’s overall color strategy and the handle/motor features of the vacuums.


Demonstrating the mobility of the shelf and dispenser along the track, as well as how the bag drops into place:


The transportation experience involves unfolding the container in the trunk of the car, dropping the fertilizer bag onto it, and then closing the bag around it. At this point the container can then but pulled upright and carried by the handles to the dispenser, which drops down to the floor for easy access.


The diagram below demonstrates the internal mechanism for piercing the bag when the container meets the dispenser. The motor pushes a pin up into the spike, forcing it upward to both cut through the fertilizer bag and create a gap for the fertilizer to fall through.


Finally, some additional views highlighting the touchpoints and showing how the dispenser interfaces with the fertilizer spreader.