Local River by Mathieu Lehanneur



French designer Mathieu Lehanneur has created Local River, a concept for a domestic "refrigerator-aquarium" that breeds freshwater fish for eating and grows vegetables at the same time. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.


Inspired by the Locavores movement of people who source food grown locally to avoid pollution and ensure freshness, the project would allow people to produce their own food at home.


Vegetables growing in floating pots would help purify the water by removing nitrates and other minerals.


The concept will be presented at Artists Space Gallery in New York from 25 April.

Here's some info from Lehanneur:


Mathieu Lehanneur
Anthony van den Bossche, spin doctor.

Artists Space Gallery, New York
Curator : Alexandra Midal
25 April to 21 June 2008

Local River, home storage unit for fish and greens

The Locavores appeared in San Francisco in 2005 and define themselves as 'a group of culinary adventurers who eat foods produced in a radius of 100 miles (160 km) around their city'. By doing so they aim to reduce impact on the environment inherent to the transport of foodstuffs, while ensuring their traceability.

Local River anticipates the growing influence of this group (the word 'locavore' made its first appearance in an American dictionary in 2007) by proposing a home storage unit for live freshwater fish combined with a mini vegetable patch. This DIY fish-farm-cum-kitchen-garden is based on the principle of aquaponics coupled with the exchange and interdependence of two living organisms - plants and fish.

The plants extract nutrients from the nitrate-rich dejecta of the fish. In doing so they act as a natural filter that purifies the water and maintains a vital balance for the eco-system in which the fish live. The same technique is used on large-scale pioneer aquaponics/fish-farms, which raise tilapia (a food fish from the Far East) and lettuce planted in trays floating on the surface of ponds.

Local River responds to everyday needs for fresh food that is 100% traceable. It bets on a return to favour of farm-raised freshwater fish (trout, eel, perch, carp, etc...), given the dwindling supplies of many saltwater species due to over-fishing. It also demonstrates the capacity of fish-farmers to deliver their stock live to a private consumer as a guarantee of optimum freshness - impossible in the case of saltwater fish that has been netted.

Local River aims to replace the decorative 'TV aquarium' by an equally decorative but also functional 'refrigerator-aquarium'. In this scenario, fish and greens cohabit for a short time in a home storage unit before being eaten by their keepers, the end-players in an exchange cycle within a controlled ecosystem.

Materials: glass: blown & thermoformed, water pump, joints.
Dimensions : Large : 64 x 29 x 39 inches, Small : 29 x 18 x 36 inches.

"Local River"
Mathieu Lehanneur
with Anthony van den Bossche, spin doctor

25 April to 21 June 2008

Artists Space
38 Greene Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10013
Phone: 212. 226. 39 70

Tues, Thurs, Fri. 12 - 6 p.m.
Wed. 2 - 8 p.m.
Sat. 12 - 5 p.m.


Mathieu Lehanneur, designer. Graduated from ENSCI-Les Ateliers in 2001; is currently exploring possibilities in nature and technology for their break-thru potential in functions and their capacity to work magic. Made his international début with a series entitled 'Elements' (VIA Carte blanche 2006) and the 'Bel Air' filtering system for plants (2007), six objects that form a domestic 'Health Angels' kit for rebalancing everyday physiological needs (such as lack of sunlight in winter) and countering aggression factors in urban settings (noise & air pollution).

Anthony van den Bossche, age 36, independent ideas man and curator. Set up Duende Studio in 2007, for events design and press relations. Moved full-time into design in 2001 after working as a journalist, ideas man and producer in television. Has mounted exhibitions such as "Design@home.se', 'Norway says' and 'Eden ADN, genetic design' (Biennale de Saint-Etienne 2006) that highlight functional and decorative improvement of living organisms. Member of the purchasing jury of the National Fund for Contemporary Art, decorative arts department, and creator of the world gazette website www.resetdesign.com (2002-07).

Alexandra Midal, professor of theory & history of design at Ecal (Switzerland) and School of Fine Arts of Toulouse (FR), former directress of Frac Haute-Normandie, now an independent curator of exhibitions. Has published several books and catalogues, including 'Appartement témoin, les annees 50', 'Appartement témoin les annees 60', 'Antidesign : petite histoire de la capsule d'habitation en images', and in 2008 'Tomorrow Now-When Design Meets Science Fiction'.

Posted on Monday April 7th 2008 at 9:57 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Love the idea, but I think I prefere to have my fish pre-cut. :)

  • Lehanneur is turning my prefer designer…

    Love it

  • amphi

    I hope it would be affordable, otherwise, kinda defeats its purpose to encourage the masses.

  • K. Rimane

    very nice indeed.

  • This designer is so talent, and he from France like us.

    I love it…

    Jo Yana

  • desky

    nice concept, not so keen on the esthetic

  • Brilliant idea I am linking back from MY MANIFESTO TREND BLOG because marketers should be making food growing as easy as using a DVD! So for now I created a blog for the ‘urbanite’ who has no clue, no time but is eager to GYO ( grow your own) in style AND save food miles.

    bravo what an idea!

  • Rrr

    I have seen these systems operating in Australia – although they are large outdoor things that have been proven to work. You can get huge quantities of fish in your backyard while growing your tomatoes.

    This thing looks nice – but seems to be a gimmick in comparison.

    You can see the real thing at http://www.aquaponics.net.au/

  • William

    i think people would see the fish as their “pets” and they wouldn’t want to eat them when the time comes.

  • Daniel

    haha if I got one of these I would just use it as a fishtank… I might use the greens but I doubt I’d eat the fish… it doesn’t seem like the fish would be able to grow that big anyway in a tank that size.

    I really like the idea and the way it looks, though.

  • Great idea!

  • leandro locsin

    mother earth needs more of you Mathieu !

    good thinking and good work.

  • Good work

  • There’s no real sense of scale in this – it looks like a really small fish tank which would not be nearly large enough to grow food fish in.

    How many gallons is the fish tank?


  • Robert

    Wow, this is something I would love to have in my house. Of course I would
    never eat the fish, would be just “pet fish” but non the less this is a fantastic idea. I hope it will be commercially available someday and not cost a fortune.


  • Ben

    Ok how many people are to wimpy to kill a fish are any of you americans………………………………………….im from Floriad and eat fresh fish that were swimming an hour earlyer. ;]

  • Yes, but somehow, eating the fish you catch in a river opposed to eating the fish you’ve actually bred and watched grow are two different experiences. I would agree that the concept is nice, but the fish would remain for decoration only.

  • Goo_boy

    His design is wonderful, but this can be done with any aquarium for those on a budget. Tilapia and some other fish can grow very large in 100+ gallon tanks, his big tank is easily 200 gallons. I am a tropical fish breeder, and yes I too would not want to kill the fish, but fish poo is wonderful fertilizer and if done right you could fill the top of the tank and half your bedroom (maybe all) with greens growing out of a well stocked aquarium this size.

  • ColumbusGuy65

    I bet I could build one of them from a three 2 liter bottles, a Tupperware container from Walmart and cheap aquarium air pump and stone. Ok, I'm thinking under $30 US.

  • wow I love this!!! this designer is leading the way for future living, everyone should grow their own food as easy as this makes it!! Ill take 3!!