Ecotopia: Vanessa Harden "The Subversive Gardener"

Ecotopia: Vanessa Harden "The Subversive Gardener"2017-08-04T16:24:42+00:00


Design details:

This body of work looks at the Guerrilla Gardening subculture. The members of this group secretly meet at night to elicit plant flowers, shrubs and vegetables in neglected urban spaces. Although their actions seem harmless, they are still viewed by the authorities as illegal and prosecutable.

This project explores the existing instruments involved in this practice. How can they be modified, camouflaged or completely redesigned? From digging to planting, this idea approaches design in a modular fashion. These new objects function as components that combine to facilitate the individual processes in gardening. The pieces also take inspiration from nature by featuring mechanisms that reference existing natural occurrences such as seed dispersal. In addition to bio-mimicry, this idea looks at various methods of disguising gardening paraphernalia in everyday attire and accessories, drawing on influences from militaria and spy gadgetry.

By exploring the duality of male and female apparel, familiar everyday objects and garments can also function as guerrilla gardening tools, interfacing modern technology with organic products. Secretly dropping seed bombs on their way to work or planting flowers on their way home, these designs allow the guerrilla gardener to integrate their assaults into their everyday routine.


This leather briefcase has been modified into a hole maker to accompany the 2-Round Tactical Gravity Planter. It contains an aluminium auger with a turned wooden and brass handle. The drill is centred in the bag, supported by a wooden frame. In order to release the auger, the user must open the flap located on the bottom of the case, and remove the pin that inserts below the handle in order to keep the auger in place.


This handbag has been created as one of a series of two objects. It accompanies the MK II Agent Deployed Field Auger, dropping plants in the holes created by the briefcase. The leather handbag contains a conveyor belt driven by a motor. When the user presses the button on the outside of the bag, the belt is activated and a plant (contained in a biodegradable pot) drops from the bottom.


This camera is intended for sowing seeds at long distances and over barriers (such as a fence). Although it appears to be a genuine camera, this piece has been fabricated from scratch. Inside, it contains a mechanism that projects small seed bullets 10-15 meters in distance.


This shoe allows the user to plant a seed every 20 steps. The seed bullets are held in a small reservoir that attaches to the leg, feeding the bullets through a tube to a rotating cartridge. This piece allows the gardener to walk and sow, making gardening a part of their everyday routine.