Sprout: A design for Communities, Food Systems, and Activism.

Sprout aims to build a network of communities, that engage in conversations about our relationship with food, and ways we can change this relationship. It stems out of the belief that a consumer’s behaviour can impact the economy and the entire lifecycle of the food industry. What is demanded, is what is supplied. By purchasing certain products from specific vendors for instance, we influence how and what other vendors sell.

The result of a year long grad project, Sprout encapsulates my interest in social and environmental change through design, with my passion for writing, and food. Heavily based in research, the project explores the concept of meta-design where the designer’s role is to design the context in which users feel empowered to create their own unique solutions.

This project was awarded the Glenmore Custom Print + Packaging Award

Sprouting Discussions and Igniting Change.

The toolkit is employed by post-secondary institutions around the world to begin discussing their unique relationships with food, and ways it can be improved.

The print materials guide communities through a discovery of the various stages in the larger food system, and helps identify where their acknowledgements and actions can make a difference. With the underlying principle of meta-design, the content uses probes and interactive narratives to make users come to their own unique solutions because there is no singular correct answer that can be dictated by the designer.

A website prototype was created to ensure the project reaches audiences where print material might be hard to disseminate, and to give easier access to numerous resources enabling further discussions.

A promotional video was created to amplify the objectives of the project as well as convey the project’s organic, human, community- and people-driven principles.


The Process

A project that started out as wanting to help individuals make a shift to a more sustainable lifestyle, eventually built into something I couldn’t have conceived of a year ago. With a growing passion for social and environmental change through design, I wanted to invest my time in a project that tried to bring about this change. Four intensive weekly exercises of exploring what I love, what I am good at, what the world needs, and what would make me money, led to a passion project exploring building supportive communities to discuss food systems.

Intrigued by new concepts such as meta-design, I spent most of my year in research and analysis, building a strong foundation for what it was I wanted to achieve and convey through the project. Some of the major milestones in my process of reaching the final deliverable were :

  1. Researching and Analyzing Food Systems;
  2. Understanding Meta-Design;
  3. Building a Framework (for effectively incorporating meta-design into the project);
  4. Co-Creation Workshops (to validate my research and incorporate diverse perspectives);
  5. Writing Content (that was approachable, understandable, and interactive); and
  6. Iterative Design

View my process book here for a detailed look at the fun yet gruelling behind the scenes of Sprout.

A Reflection of the Year

Over the course of my four years at Emily Carr, I have heard numerous times that no design is ever complete. There is always the itch to improve something, to have spent more time on certain aspects, to change things up a bit, and I am no stranger to this. However, I am proud of what I have achieved.

A mostly self-directed project, I have come to realize my work ethic, my organization and time-management skills, but most importantly my passion. This project has given me great insight into what design means for me, and what I want to do with the tools I have been employed with. I have gained an interest for research, and laying an emphasis on design thinking to realize creative solutions to complex problems.

Looking back, I realized that almost instinctually, I was able to utilize my interests and incorporate them into the project. With a passion for food and creative writing, I built a design project that allowed me to highlight these passions, as well as hone an interest in community-driven design for social and environmental change.


Sanya Arora is a communication designer based in Vancouver, Canada. Having grown up in a prescribed educational system, she constantly battle those qualities by pushing her boundaries and exploring different, creative, and innovative opportunities in her design practice. She is passionate about design’s power to inform and influence people to take action, and how it can provide individuals with tools to make change for the better. She likes to incorporate diverse perspectives, collaborate with multiple stakeholders, create community-driven projects, and design with people rather than for people.

When she’s not toggling between 4-5 softwares on her laptop, she likes to cook and eat while pretending she is a cook and critic on Masterchef; buy notebooks just for the paper quality; indulge in amateur journalling; partake in creative writing; and think about her next meal.