Interview with designer Danielle Trofe (DT), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Live Screen Self-Sustaining Vertical Garden.

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Interview with Danielle Trofe at Thursday 19th of May 2011: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
DT : The Live Screen was inspired by the living wall concept; however, I wanted to create a system that allowed for a more dynamic function rather than to be confined to a static wall. My goal was to create a sculptural form that could be just as aesthetically important and pleasing as the vegetation it was designed to support. The Live Screen's principle purpose is to sustain plant life through a built-in irrigation system, thus creating a self-sustaining, indoor planter system.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
DT : My design was structured around mobility, a screen or room divider that could be placed in the middle of a room, against a wall, anywhere. That meant that the irrigation system had to be hidden within the structure, so the design process began from the inside out. The most important focus of the design process was this self-sustaining function, and I wanted to achieve it in the most effective way, so each aspect of the design had to be centered around the need to circulate water throughout the system in an energy efficient way.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
DT : The Live Screen is currently in the prototyping phase with an aim to go into production by year's end.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
DT : The initial idea and design was conceived in August 2010. The design stayed dormant until Spring 2011 when I decided to take it to the next level after it received praise, press and several awards. The technological aspects of the design are currently under testing.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
DT : This design was a personal pursuit, born from the idea that their has to be a more aesthetically pleasing design to living walls and more dynamic functions as well.

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
DT : I'm open to selling or leasing production rights. Please contact me via email.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
DT : I've always been a huge advocate of incorporating exterior elements into interior spaces. Living systems provide so many benefits, the natural vegetation improves air quality and reduces airborne particles, helps to control humidity and temperature, sustains biodiversity and can serve as an herb and produce source.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
DT : Existing living wall systems

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
DT : Urban dwellers, restaurants, hotels and office spaces, and anyone who enjoys gardening and enriching their space with plant life.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
DT : The fact that the system is a living, functional piece of art distinguishes it from many existing ideas and products. By combining its sculptural form with a self-sustaining function separates it from both living walls and normal interior planters.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
DT : The name pretty much sums up is purpose, the Live Screen.

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
DT : Rhino and 3dsmax

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
DT : The built-in irrigation system uses a modified drip hydroponic system that is concealed within the structure. Hydroponics are considered the sustainable agricultural technology of the future and are very effective in maintaining plant life with minimal energy and water use.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
DT : The concept and design was mine, but I sought the expertise of a hydroponics specialist out of Canada, Matthew Unger, to advise me on the proper irrigation system that would best fit the design.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
DT : This design is highly-driven by technology. The primary function of the design is to sustain living plants, in which a modified drip hydroponic system is put into place.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
DT : I conducted hydroponic tests to determine the proper system of tubing, pumps, drip irrigation, etc.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
DT : The greatest challenge was marrying the technology with the aesthetic in a functional yet visually stunning manner.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
DT : I received my Masters degree in Florence Italy for design. So I've always felt that Italy and many other countries outside of the U.S. are on the forefront of design and lead the rest of the world, especially in the furniture industry. So for me, international competitions are preferred because it allows me to compete against the best in the world and enable me to reach a larger audience.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
DT : The Live Screen has taught me that no project is ever completely realized, there is always room for improvement. This mentality has helped to refine my own design process and continue to strive to achieve high-quality, function-forward product design.