Cultivating sustainable countertop agriculture


SproutsIO, Inc is a startup company with a vision for changing the way the world integrates food into their lives. The vision is rooted in the need to localize produce to provide healthy, flavorful, and sustainable food into households, despite growing urbanization trends. The SproutsIO appliance provides nutrients, water, and UV light to a set of specialized pods that house the plant and its root system. This portable system is based on an aeroponic growing strategy that is uniquely clean and effective; a revolution in home and restaurant growing equipment.

SproutsIO approached SF with an initial proof-of-concept prototype that provided a functional foundation, but still needed aesthetic refinement and production-level manufacturing strategies. SF worked with SproutsIO to help mature their design towards a production viable, exciting product that achieves the vision and success of bringing fresh produce into households. Our mechanical engineering and industrial design teams worked in parallel to help achieve the ideal user experience by refining the overall part break-up strategies, user touch points, ergonomics, ease-of-use and functionality.

The SproutsIO system’s success required conquering some unique manufacturability challenges.

As a premium product, it required high-quality, food safe materials with complex geometries to achieve the multiple states of growing conditions and user features. For this reason, injection-molded Tritan co-polymer was selected for many of the bowl and lamp stand housing systems. Many components applied unique mating strategies, including joints that seal, slide, and nest. The bowl system and its integrated sensors are designed to easily lift off the lamp base for cleaning, a challenge that the team met with the creative application of an unique electrical connector designed for water kettles. Further, the lamp head required the ability to modify its height to optimize UV light levels as the plant grows. To achieve this while enabling the organic form language, the team designed and coordinated the production manufacturing of a 30” long gooseneck system that leverages an insert-molded coil-based flex arm within an elastomer overmold.

SF also worked with SproutsIO to integrate a variety of advanced sensor systems into a unique, removable sensor tower system with potted electronics for water-proofing. The sensor puck is installed with robust sealing strategies to allow ease of cleaning and product maintenance.

Sustainability was of paramount concern for this product. While the SproutsIO pods are a consumable product, they are also 100% compostable. An outcome of this project was identifying materials and manufacturing processes for both the pod shell and the internal media that holds the seeds to make sure this system upholds responsibility to its environmental impact.

The system also represents a common complexity for new and innovative products: regulatory compliance in cross-over categories. UL has defined specifications for lamps and for agriculture appliances; but not necessarily for both. SF worked alongside SproutsIO to navigate the uncharted territory between these design standards, guiding the project to successful electrical safety compliance.


Premium experiences require premium design; design that fearlessly tackles complex challenges with elegant, manufacturable solutions.

Human Impact

Chefs and restaurants today search high and low for premium ingredients. For them, heirloom vegetables can offer a painter’s palette of flavor opportunities that can produce beauty and art through taste. But to be usable and consistent in a restaurant environment, ingredients need to be reliably produced through a durable and functional system that’s easy-to-use, safe, and well designed. Enter SproutsIO: a kitchen revolution that can produce unique flavors quickly and reliably while looking beautiful in the dining room.

Business Impact

SproutsIO successfully launched their product in 2018 and have created a new market for premium growing systems. They continue to see momentum amongst a diverse client base of both home-growers and restauranteurs. Their mission to bring the value of taste back to the human experience through the beautiful and delicious production of heirloom ingredients has been met with enthusiasm and accolade.

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