Product Design for Greener Thumbs: Porticos Engineers Partner with ROOT

Can you imagine your indoor basil plant sending you a text? “Hey there—could I get some water?” That little pot’s chance of survival just improved. Well thanks to the product design engineers at Porticos, our house plants could soon be smart plants.

Remembering to water them, knowing how much light they need… keeping plants green is a lot of work. But one company is out to ensure we can all enjoy a little fresh basil on our lasagna. ROOT, founded by passionate agriculturalist Brielle Pettinelli and architect-minded Eric De Feo, started with the mission of making indoor-grown foods and herbs easier for everyday busy people—green thumbs not required.

When ROOT was still an industrial design concept, Porticos engineers worked with Brielle and Eric on its mechanical development. The original design outlined how an indoor plant system with smart capabilities could both distribute nutrients and alert the owners if the plants needed light or water. The product design goal was to turn the design into a commercial-quality prototype, one that represented an affordable price point and a beautiful home-friendly look. Brielle and Eric also needed a quick-turn prototype to attract investors to the concept.

With practical design ideas, the Porticos engineers created a 3D model of the ROOT, incorporating a watering pump, dispensing system, and an LED lighting system.

“The Root was unique in that the size of the parts had a large range, from the small components for assembling the plastics to the large reservoir base which holds gallons of water,” said Michelle Demers, Senior Project Lead at Porticos. “The deep drafts of the larger parts brought upon challenges that were overcome during close design collaboration with the toolmaker.”

The first prototype was ready in less than three months. The ROOT team was able to use the lightning-fast prototype to implement electrical and lighting hardware and to begin hydroponic testing.

Working in tandem with the ROOT team, the Porticos product design team focused on creating detailed designs for volume-manufacturing specifications while ROOT conducted testing. Guided by the prototype design and years of molding experience, the team at Porticos developed the 3D models for high-volume injection molding, maintaining a bill of materials and assisting with supplier inquiries.

“We enjoyed working with Porticos design and manage our plastic tooling – it was a seamless process from beginning to end, and we look forward to continuing our relationship,” said Eric De Feo, Co-Founder & COO of ROOT.

Always demonstrating a readiness for production tooling, the Porticos product design engineers procured and assembled additional prototypes based on customer-requested design updates and injection-molding profile and moldability requirements

The final prototype included two main components: the individual plant pod, which was carefully designed to hold the ROOT media and enable water and nutrient flow to the plant, and the full ROOT system, which holds the twelve plant pods and distributes light and water.

You can learn more about this indoor garden system and the progress on ROOT’s prototype at

The Porticos team was proud to work with ROOT on such an innovative product and enjoyed the opportunity to showcase the team’s dedication to the rapid prototyping and the team’s experience with molding. The ROOT indoor garden system prototype is another example of how Porticos Designs Products for the Way We’re Designed.

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About Porticos


Porticos, Inc. is a Product Engineering and New Product Development firm located in Research Triangle Park, NC.

Established in 2003, Porticos produces innovative and effective solutions for their clients and the markets they serve. Porticos provides broad expertise in development, planning, and production. 

Contact us for more information or support bringing your idea to market.