The way I grew up, home cooked meals three times a day were the norm. These meals were always cooked from scratch using whole foods and fresh spices that were balanced and healthy. Eating out was for Sundays, special occasions and celebrations. Fast forward to today - most of my peers and I can rarely manage to eat a home cooked meal. When you dig a bit deeper the consensus feedback is that everyone states they want to eat healthy and want o cook, before adding a litany of excuses for why its not reasonable.
My objective was to change the way people, particularly young students or proffesionals who have just begun to live by themselves approach cooking. How could I make it feel appealing and doable? and NOT time consuming and inefficent? Could I get them to have an excuse to cook versus making excuses not to.
Your excuse to cook!
DESIGN RESEARCH | UI/UX DESIGN | PRODUCT DESIGN | PROTOTYPING
RESEARCH + PROCESS
CASTING THE NET WIDE
We were assigned to teams of 3 to conduct research on our topic. The food team cast the net wide, we explored food in all its forms and manifestations from fine dining, delivery services, food waste management, food start ups, community gardens, food education in school and elsewhere, food as medicine, sugar and its addicting effects in the food industry, marketing of foods to kids, food for kids, food influencing culture, food deserts etc.
We began by watching food documentaries, films and reading articles related to all of the above mentioned topics. We then conducted a wide range of interviews with professionals in the food industry and young students and working professionals for their take on food looking out for potential opportunities. We also visited community gardens, farmers markets and grocery stores to talk with people and understand the different ways in which food was procured or accessed.
We then got together and synthesized what we had learnt using the rose, bud thorn method. With the themes that emerged, we were able to identify different opportunity areas. We then held a group brainstorm to come up with concept ideas based on the opportunities we had identified in our research. I then branched of from the group to work on the problem/opportunity I was most excited about - why weren't more people eating home cooked meals? how could technology help with this?
A few themes that emerged in my research and guided my concept are;
Time is money
Cooking was considered too time consuming, It was also not top of the priority list for most.
Watch and learn
most home cooks learnt by watching and listening to their parent or grandparent in the kitchen, this is how they learnt the little tricks that saved them time and how to work with fresh ingredients.
Knowing basic techniques are empowering
A lot of home cooks I spoke with said knowing the basic technique behind a dish for eg: a stir fry helped make cooking easier/cost effective as they could use ingredients that were on sale or that they had on hand as opposed to shopping the recipe.
iPads/Tablets are device of choice
Most people favored the ipad or tablet as the device they use and refer to while cooking in the kitchen.
Visual appeal is important
Some interviewees mentioned loving to look at and collect cookbooks as they were visually compelling. They said they were attracted to beautiful imagery and visual language in the books.
The final concept has an amalgam of features that are all purposefully designed to answer a need identified in my reserach. For example, The ingredients and technique index allows the user to quickly look up ingredients and substitutions or basic cooking techniques. The audio narrative in the step by step guide has the friendly voice of Baba Nosh or Granny Gobble, this was incorporated to be reminiscent of cooking with a parent or grandparent and also to eliminate the need to read from the screen while cooking.
The visual aethetic is a combination of the familiarity of hand written recipe books handed down through generations combined with the edgy modern feel of large photo tiles and neutral tones.
Below are basic prototypes of the app concept, on the iPhone and the iPad.