Make a Bonsai

The Ordway Gardens tablet_landscape screenshot

The Ordway Gardens

As part of the opening of Como Park Zoo & Conservatory's new Ordway Gardens Bonsai Pavilion, we created an iPad app that allows visitors to make a virtual bonsai. Three iPads are mounted on a custom-made display at the entrance of the Bonsai Pavilion where visitors are able to trim their own virtual bonsai before enjoying the real thing.


Bonsai Crash Course

We kicked off the project with a private crash course in how to make a real bonsai taught by expert bonsai trainer Mike Porcaro. When you're tasked with creating a software simulation, there's no better way to start than getting to know the real thing first.

UX Design

Sketching the User Experience

Early sketches of the app flow screen-by-screen were made with good ol' paper and pen. The final app ended up nearly identical to the sketches in terms of the flow of the user experience.

Step 1
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Mathematical 3D Modeling

Creating a Digital Tree

A software model of a tree must be perceptually and emotionally engaging. Programming for this requires a deep understanding of design, programming, and mathematics. The trees are algorithmically generated using a parametric stochastic L-system. Every one is unique.

Visual Design

Crafting the Look & Feel

tablet_landscape screenshot
tablet_landscape screenshot
Trimming 2
Trimming 3
tablet_landscape screenshot
Live 2
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