• Competition Submission
  • Team project
  • with Nick Quin Ball
  • Duration 3 month
  • 2014


ITSY Growlab is a food education toolkit for the classroom. Instead of teaching what a good diet is, ITSY Growlab places the child in a parent role and teaches to make responsible dietary decisions while caring for a livestock of crickets.
Getting over the Yuck factor is the first instance in initiating acceptance and interest for insects. The sterile looking ITSY grow lab has no resemblance of what is commonly associated with "crawling" insects and presents these in a new and aestheticised fashion.


Fast Food and snacks are becoming ever more prevalent in children's daily diets, these quick fixes are predisposing many young people to numerous health problems.

Body Storming

First Workshop

What do you actually think about food?


The MindMap that was created as a visual reference to the discourse showed that lack of time and food expense prevented people from eating the way they would like to. Most interesting from our questioner results was that those who cooked with their parents as children appreciated home made food and felt that it was more necessary to home cook in order to live on a healthy diet.


with a child's diet
What do you eat ? What principals do you follow when you choose or purchase food?
Post-It notes bellow show how the students categorised their own responses to our research questions. Our interpretation of the categorisation is that the associated values of food do not include their nutritional qualities. Students are well informed about the health risks of diets that are high in fat, salt and sugar but happily ignore this if the product satisfies the mentioned categories.

The concept

When it comes to choosing what food we put into our bodies there will always be a myriad of unhealthy options to choose from therefore we believe the problem lies with in responsible decision making.

Our first research session showed that the parents relationship with food strongly reflects on their child. The design challenge became to create a neutral ground for kids from a multitude of food background and spark their individual curiosity about food.

ITSY Growlab fosters responsible and independent decision making through putting the child in charge of the ITSY Growlab. The children take on the parent role and design a well informed healthy diet for their life stock of crickets. ITSY Growlab activities such as Share your lunch with a cricket have an immediate effect on the food consumed in the classroom.

Brand Identity

The brand Identity of ITSY is fluid across graphic style and product aesthetic. The key elements we identified to inform our design language where scientific, informal, engaging. This link stands to provide a coherent experience of the whole product.

Whats in the box ?

Students document growing process and record the cricked diet
Educators Manuel
Provides lesson plans. Explains how to set up and maintain the Grow-lab
ITSY proposes recipes for lunches which are prepared at home and then shared with the crickets

Water Gel
The gel provides hydration while preventing the crickets from drowning. Using Gel instead of water reduces risks of infections.
Baby Crickets
Crickets transported with egg carton for protection - also becomes part of the Growlab habitat
Insect Bedding
The organic matter bedding has antibacterial properties, soaks up moisture, reduces smell and provides grip

Design Decisions

Crickets need to be presented in the right way to avoid creepy associations. This led us to pair back on colour and design a clean, transparent and functional object. Straight sites meet soft chamfers which give the object a seriousness without appearing hostile. High visibility of the insects was achieved through choosing a durable and glossy transparent PETG Plastic.

As feeding the cricket plays a central role in the ITSY Growlab, we iterated the design through sketching, prototyping and testing.
Our original feeding tray was a part of the container. Left over food was difficult to remove.
Inserting the tray through the lid meant that the lid was nat slidable anymore.
Our final version was easy to use and securely clipped into the rubberised ring that runs around the sliding lid. Closing the lid fully, locked the ladle in place.

Conscious of the classroom as the product environment we designed the Growlab to fit shelfs with a base dimension of an A4 Page.
The rubber frame securely locks the Growlab in place when stacked
Breathing holes are uncovered when stacked.
Growlab has draft angles for easy storage when not in use


Product Validation


Improving Diets

Already in use

Tara Elliot

Tara is regarded as Irelands first Insect Farmer. In 2014 her ambitious project received media coverage from the Irish Times followed by a strong reaction of readers. Now Tara used the ITSI growlab to support her on her mission: Making Ireland an insect eating country