Decoding Design

Sprout: a pencil that writes, then grows

Posting in Design

Democratech design collective have come up with a solution for the nibs of pencil left over when it becomes to small to use.

Waste in an everyday environment can go unnoticed on a regular basis. The last of the milk, the end of the roll of toothpaste, just to name a few. But, thanks to Democratech design collective, not that last bit of pencil. Democratech have come up with a solution for the nibs of pencil left over when it becomes to small to write with.

The Cambridge, MA company has implanted pencil ends with seeds of various plants, such as basil, sage, and tomato. So when you are done using the pencil (dubbed "Sprout"), stick the opposite end in a pot of soil, water, and enjoy the fruits of your new found pencil garden. In discussing the inspiration for "Sprout", the creator Mario Bollini said the idea behind it was simply fun.

"We want every part of using Sprout to be fun, so instead of sacrificing overall quality (and adding cost and complexity) by grafting on an eraser, we scrapped it entirely. Putting an eraser on it would have been a mistake. There's a lot of good "external" erasers out there, we're happy to make some recommendations. And who knows, we may be putting seeds in them too..."

Sprout comes in over 20 different types, including heirloom varieties, and the designers maintain that this is a first-rate pencil as well. However, when the pencil becomes too short to be useful or is rendered frustratingly inconvenient, you just plant it bottom-down in some soil. The seed capsule inside is water-activated, and begins to dissolve after the first time it's watered.

The project has recently been put on Kickstarter and has 27 days to go. For $5 you will be one of the first to receive a Basil Sprout. Whether you are a graphite or a garden enthusiast, you can probably find some use for this--albiet novelty-- product. So far 206 backers agree. It's a pretty cool idea, though arguably a little unnecessary.

What I do love is that people are always thinking about ways to solve the small problems of life as well as the big ones. It's a good designer who looks at life this way, as a series of challenges that can be tackled with a little creativity.

[Core 77]

Images: Sprout Kickstarter

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Beth Carter

Contributing Editor

Beth Carter is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has worked for Catalyst magazine, the New York Times Syndicate, BBC Travel and Wired. She holds degrees from the University of Oregon and New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure