Project Neighbors. Borrow stuff from people nearby


Ruixin J. Zhang


We all experience the feeling that it is very hard to borrow stuff from neighbors. Many people would rather buy one instead of asking their neighbors. The problem is that we bought too much stuff that will only be used once at home (such as power drills, a popular book, a PS game, etc). The project Neighbors aims to create a social neighborhood in which people can easily borrow or rent stuff from their neighbors so that we can own less stuff but still have access to all the stuff we need to use sometimes.


Create an online platform for people to borrow or lend out home stuff.


A mobile app with a physical shared lockbox point to store the home stuff and make them available for rent around the neighborhood.

The real problem behind borrowing stuff from neighbors

It is generally not easy to borrow something from neighbors. The first question is who has it? How much time and energy does it cost? And further, there is this subtle uncomfortable feeling for asking. Besides, not just for those who want to borrow/rent stuff, their neighbors also have multiple pain points during this process. For neighbors who have the stuff, why they would like to lend out their stuff? And what if the borrowers don't return it? or broke it? So that this project focuses on how to motivate my neighbors to make their stuff available to be borrowed/rented so that I can easily borrow/rent the stuff I needed from them?"

Imagine a story of borrowing a power drill from neighbors...

Let's take an example, imagine that there is this person called Yu who comes from China. She recently moved to Amsterdam and wants to hang some paintings in her new rental apartment. But she doesn't have a power drill. She wishes there is a way that she can easily borrow one, or rent one from her neighbors. The "power drill" here is a very interesting one. Normally, people won't need to use that, and it is relatively expensive. So it is not a typical home item every home has.

We can imagine how difficult it is for Yu to knock her neighbors' door one by one and ask for it. Yu has this fear of getting rejected by their neighbor. But what if Yu do not need to ask for it? What if Yu can see a list of offers from neighbors and she can just pick one. However, again, Yu's neighbor may lack the incentive of renting their stuff out. For Yu's neighbor who has the power drill, it is a typical ROI (return on investment) problem. Comparing to house and car rental, the efforts paid during the process of asking, meeting, and returning can be very high, however, the money earned from this can be very little every time. But what if lenders do not need to take extra time and energy for it? What if there is a shared storage point between lenders and borrowers? In which lenders can store their power drills and borrowers can pick up and return by themselves. In this way, lenders can see the accumulated amount of all rentals together overtime.

A shared lockbox point + A mobile app

There can be multiple solutions for motivating neighbors to lend out their stuff. One of the possible ways is to create a shared lockbox point in the corridor of a department, or around the neighborhood. The lenders can then rent a lockbox, but the stuff they don't use often there to make them available for neighbors to rent. The borrowers can then rent the stuff when it is available for them all by themselves. Everyone can be a lender, and, at the same time, a borrower. And they can make these activities easily done via the mobile app.


storyboards for
borrowing stuff from neighbors

Interaction and Motion

At the bottom of the screen, there is a switch panel by which users can switch between borrowers and lenders. Motion is used to ensure fluent user experience, and provide meaningful information on navigation.

Borrower view

The "Borrow" view shows some items that most frequently borrowed recently.

Stuff categories

This view shows a list of categories for neighbors' available items. Tap to go to the detailed view.

Reserve stuff

In the detailed view, users can see detailed information on the available item, and users can check when they can pick it up. Users can then reserve it and pay for the rental fee. In the confirmation window, users can see how to pick it up.

Category detail view

Each category includes several pieces of items that are available to the borrowers.

Lender view

The lender view shows how much money the user earned from their items lend out.


value & impact

Neighbors can help many people to borrow home stuff for their urgent use. And lenders can use the money they earned overtime to work on their next home project. In the long term, the project can help to create a neighborhood where everyone can own less and less physical stuff, and the borrowing and renting activities between neighbors can be a natural thing to do.