Infarm

middle to large scales of urban indoor farming units with hydroponic system



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Instore V2 is a medium-scale hydroponic farming unit which can be placed in retail or culinary environments. 
Photo / Nico Fritzenschaft, Xijing Xu


About infarm


Infarm is a vertical farm company. 
With their various scales of hydroponic farming units and global farming network, infarm produces fresh herbs, salads, mushrooms and vegetables in and around urban areas to support the food system built upon Metropol city.

Disclaimer


My design work for Infarm is subject to NDAs. All images on this website are either my photograph works capturing publicly available information, non-technical rendering images, or sourced online.
Unfortunately, I can not publish most of my work at infarm online. For people from non-competitive sectors, If you are interested in my skillset and know-how gained from this work experience, I am happy to present you with more visual reference in person or via a zoom call.

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Water is one of the core elements in a hydroponic system.
During my time at infarm, I worked closely with irrigation engineers on water-related topics.
Photo / Xijing Xu

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The lightbox structure I designed for the farming unit highlights the infarm branding.
Photo / Xijing Xu

Design Responsibility


I joined the design team at infarm’s R&D department in the summer of 2019. After three years of work, I grow my career from a design intern to an industrial designer.

In the R&D team at infarm, I have participated in developing different scales and models of the farming system.

Farming system layout design
As an industrial designer, I work with engineers from various disciplines to adjust and integrate different functional layouts and zoning of the farming system (e.g. irrigation, ventilation, lighting, etc.). It maximizes using the farming units' internal and external space within a limited footprint while ensuring that the equipment is adjustable to various growth parameters and recipes to meet the production conditions of different crops.

Quick visualisation for better communication
During the projects' conceptual phase, I visualize the highly complex engineering systems through rapid modelling and rendering to assist the project manager in communicating information to internal and external parties, reducing errors and noise in the communication process and accelerating the design iteration.
Technical development of core components
Besides having an overview of the complete farming system, I am also involved in the detailed design of some functional components, such as the core accessories of the irrigation system and air ducting.  
The best example are the grow tray and reservoir design, they are owned by industrial designers from theirs beginning of conceptualization to the end of production.

Operational tools design
In the design department, we follow the human-centric design principle and keep in contact with the operational and maintenance staff of the farming units to collect their opinions and feedback on the use of the system and to optimise the human-machine interface of the farming units.
In collaboration with the workflow designers, I design different operational tools to improve the ease of supply and transport of seedlings and the efficiency during the growing and harvesting process of the farm.

Retail and POS design
For the farming unit for the retail market, I work on its CMF design to optimise the appearance of the equipment.
The industrial design team work with the marketing team to ensure that the equipment supports different branding materials.
We also provide plant and product display design for stand-alone POS shelves within the retail markets.


Skill Set



Design in different scales
During my three years of work at infarm, I have experienced design projects of various sizes - from plant growing tools in millimetres to the conceptual design of a 10-metre-height plant production tower. The span effectively trained me to perceive and understand different scales and dimensions in the design process.

Hands-on prototyping, 3d-modeling
Infarm has a well-equipped workshop with FDM 3d printers, a CNC machine, vacuum forming machines, and other basic machine tools for prototyping. The close collaboration with the design technician from the workshop improved my hands-on prototyping skills. It required me to always quickly provide accurate drawings based on my know-how of different machine specifications along the design iteration.

Manufacturing experience 
During different design projects and communication with suppliers, I have deepened my understanding of manufacturing, especially plastic injection moulding, plastic vacuum forming, metal bending and metal surface finishing.
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Rendering image / Xijing Xu

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Harvest station is one of the operational tools that I have worked on.
It is a cart-shaped workstation that supports the infarm staff's (”growers”) workflow during their operation on the farming system.
Photo / Xijing Xu

Product journey
In the to B industry, every small design change can impact every possible detail, from production, warehousing, and logistics to operation and maintenance. Therefore, during the conceptualisation and design process, I need to build a product journey to get a holistic view of the product's lifecycle and use this as a guideline to verify the rationality of the product in different use cases.

User centric design methodolodgy
Following the user-centric design principle, I need to stay close to the users through shadowing, questionnaires, and 1:1 interviews to get user feedback and improve the effectiveness and usability of the design.

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Acre farm is a large-scale hydroponic farming unit built in a centralised growing HUB close to the urban area to supply infarm's most high-demand product.
Photo / infarm 
Source / https://www.infarm.com/news/indifferent-is-the-new-resilient



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The concept visualisation of infarm’s future growing centre.
Rendering image / infarm 
Source / https://www.infarm.com/news/nfarm-continues-us-expansion-largest-infarm-growing-center-will-supply-the-northeastern-us



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Seedlings ready for transplanting.
Photo / infarm
Source / https://www.infarm.com/news/sowing-the-seeds-for-a-better-food-system-infarm-published-it-s-sustainability-vision-for-the

© 2023 Xijing XU