In Progress: Redefining Dining

Hey guys,

This is a project that I have been working on for a little over a month now. I presented it to my professor and studio a few days ago and received some good feedback. The final is due in about three weeks and I want to concentrate on the form and the interface. I figured I would post it here to get any extra suggestions for improvement.

http://issuu.com/qsh4857/docs/redefining_dining_cook_mate

I like the idea overall, my wife is an excellent cook, and she has 3 or 4 binders full of recipes + a ton of cook books of course.
A couple of points about the design:

Is this really the best form factor? Limited counter space might dictate a free floating, or under cabinet/wall mount.

Is this the best form/detailing? Compared to your market research, the form on the final seems a little primitive/unrefined.

What are the materials? Again, look at your competitive/market research, a lot of metal in the kitchen.

Yo, thanks for the feedback. The questions you asked are very similar to the ones asked by my professor and are what I am trying to answer in the next few weeks. I’m going to a few kitchen appliance stores over thanksgiving break to study form some more then I am hoping by the end of the week to have some form sketches done. I’ll make sure to post them on this thread once completed. Thanks again.

Definitely go to a few stores, and see if you can go to some kitchen remodeling spots, that might help as well. Maybe pop on the food network and watch some of those people cook, you never know what it might inspire. If you have access over the break to just sit and watch a family member cook, that would work as well. I’d also recommend you put together some mood boards. When we did The Brief DVD design video ( www.thebriefdvd.com ) on coffee makers I put together 3 mood boards. The first was your basic market research board of what I call trophy appliances, the second was a board of the consumer I was looking at, youthful, professional, career oriented urbanites that live in downtown loft environments, and the 3rd board was pure form inspiration as it realted to the project in my (the designer’s) view. Lots of modern sculpture.

Stores I would recommend:
Williams Sonoma
Sur La Table
The kitchen section at a Macy’s
Any gourmet grocer

Cool concept…

One of the trickiest things about doing a project like this Ive come to realize is a lot of people struggle with the UI… I dont think anything will kill a cool concept more then bad execution of the interface so I would sit down and really put some time into the UI to make the project whole… probably as much time as you did into the whole concept development

As mentioned earlier you probably should work on that form a bit more, but I completely agree with Kershaw. In order to make this concept pop and be a great portfolio piece you really need to blow that interface out. Get a large piece of paper a sharpie and map it out. Meaning start with the home page and map out if you click on this button it takes you here and then if you click on this button it takes you there. By doing this you will be able to see what the number of steps there are and the complexity in accomplishing the task. Also while you are doing this keep in mind your environment. I know myself that I love to cook and everything in my kitchen has its place and is very functional so I can access it quickly and easily. If I were going to have an electronic interface to show me a recipe I would need it to be super easy so it would not interfere in the preparation of the dish.

You may have done this already, but I would also encourage you to observe the how people cook and how timing is a very important part of cooking. A lot of times when someone is reliant on a recipe it can screw up the timing of the dish. This is because they check what they are supposed to be doing the go back and check again, and again. This can cause things to cook longer/shorter than they should. How do you solve that problem? You talked about observing people cooking, this is you perfect opportunity with thanksgiving coming up. Watch someone cook thanksgiving dinner. It is probably one of the hardest meals to cook all year given the amount of people and food.

Over all I think it is a great concept and I can’t wait to see more.

Oh and I just wanted to throw out there…Great improvement in you sketching skills!!! You certainly have come a long way sense the summer.

I just brought this app for my iPhone and it reminded me of your project here.

I think someone mentioned about the importance of the UI… this app certainly has that nailed. You should check it out.

http://www.coolhunting.com/archives/2009/10/jamie_olivers_2.php

Loafer that’s awesome. Thanks for sharing that.

Hey guys,

I have been working on the form for the past few weeks and doing some UI design also. This is my “final form” as of now. I do not know if I am totally satisfied with it yet though. Any comments or suggestions are much appreciated!







Much better. There are still a lot of awkward form intersections though. Why does the red trim stop at the bottom? Some of the backside details look fussy. Look at the way the new mac’s trick the eye into reading a super clean thin edge. It hose raised area on the backside are necessary, then back them off the edge so the side reads as a clean form. In you inspiration page, really stdy that toaster. Pretty well done.

I like the basic premise. I do a lot of cooking. A few questions/comments however-

  1. Why is this better than having a laptop/netbook/iphone in the kitchen that does more than one thing? Aren’t you necissarily limiting the experience by having yet another one purpose gadget? What if I want to cross reference with a youtube video, play some tunes or check my email while cooking? Aren’t single use devices going away with more and more convergence? Only thing I can think of is the cleanability…

  2. Interface. As mentioned, this is key, otherwise not much of a project.

  3. Why so huge? look at how thin a full featured laptop can be. something as simple as a stripped down computer surely doesn’t need to be so thick. Look like a cheap 90’s portable DVD player when it’s so thick.

  4. What function is the huge back panel bringing? All I can see is that it is a stand and a mount. There must be a more elegant way to do this without such a giant bulk of a panel. If it was a second screen, Ok maybe, but as shown doesn’t add much functionally or aesthetically I think.

  5. As Yo mentioned, I’d work on se3ing it up a bit. Finesse your forms, esp. the edge view and have a more cohesive overall appearance.

  6. I’d work a bit more on the actual use scenario as well. Where on the counter does this go? When do you decide to mount it? where are the power cords? Where are outlets with respect to work surfaces? Is this on the counter? Over the stove? by the fridge? Again, what benefit is this over a normal laptop with the whole web of videos, apps and recipes online? How/when do you clean it? Use it with your hands full of dough? How does it help you, remind you? time things?

Something like this I think is actually only 20% form, maybe 40% use scenario and 40% UI. I think you have maybe 75% of the 20% now. Not trying to be harsh, but to help you develop it further as I think the base concept is good and has yet to be fully developed by anyone else that I’m aware of.


R

@ rkuchinsky

Thanks for the comments/questions, they definitely got me thinking.

  1. I feel this is better then having a laptop/netbook/iphone in the kitchen because the first two are pretty large and would take valuable counter space while you are cooking. Also with the iphone, I feel you would have to constantly be holding it, putting it down, and touching the screen with dirty hands which would be annoying while cooking. The “cook-mate” design allows the user to decide where he or she wants to place it in the kitchen. It can be completely out of the way (above/below the counter) or if the user has room he or she can place it on the counter.

  2. Interface: I have been working on it for a few weeks now but am having a tough time. This is my first attempt at designing an interface…any suggestions would definitely be helpful. I mapped it out like packageID suggested and that helped, but the aesthetics of it are somewhat difficult to grasp.

  3. Why so huge? Yeah, I agree. I designed a model very similar to the one I posted pictures of in solidworks that was about half as thick. The problem was that I felt it looked too “business-like”…it wasn’t friendly enough and didn’t really have the curves I was looking for.

  4. Your right, the back panel needs to be reworked, I will have to re-examine it.

  5. I wanted the user to be able to decide where on the counter it is placed, or where it is mounted, etc. Kitchens vary in size, shape, and form, so I felt the user should have complete control over where to place it in the kitchen. The device can connect online where the user can interact with others and share recipes. The only part of the device that is touched with dirty hands are the bump bars which are located on the sides of the device (picture is attached).

I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew with the amount of time given to complete this project, but I am still learning and hopefully I can improve upon what I have now.

huge question for me is sanitation. If I’m elbow deep in hamburger meat, slicing pork, de-boning chicken, etc, the touch interface becomes non-usable without without plastic wrap over the top or something like that. Restaurants and butchers do this a lot. See also the Kohler Kitchen sink that has some kind of capacitive sensor so you can turn it on by touching your elbow to it.

R’s point about cleanability is big too. Ever try to “wipe off” the top of the fridge or microwave? :slight_smile: shudder.

Thanks for the comments/questions, they definitely got me thinking.

  1. I feel this is better then having a laptop/netbook/iphone in the kitchen because the first two are pretty large and would take valuable counter space while you are cooking. Also with the iphone, I feel you would have to constantly be holding it, putting it down, and touching the screen with dirty hands which would be annoying while cooking. The “cook-mate” design allows the user to decide where he or she wants to place it in the kitchen. It can be completely out of the way (above/below the counter) or if the user has room he or she can place it on the counter.

OK, i can see the point a bit, but you haven’t convinced me this solution is the best. Maybe better would be a stand for a laptop or a different input device to take advantage of the full power of a notebook, but without the cleaning issues. Like a washable mice and keyboard…


  1. Interface: I have been working on it for a few weeks now but am having a tough time. This is my first attempt at designing an interface…any suggestions would definitely be helpful. I mapped it out like packageID suggested and that helped, but the aesthetics of it are somewhat difficult to grasp.

Interface is key. Without it, you’ve got a box. I esp. am curious how you are going to control everything with only two buttons. I have no idea what this does or if it works without the UI.


  1. Why so huge? Yeah, I agree. I designed a model very similar to the one I posted pictures of in solidworks that was about half as thick. The problem was that I felt it looked too “business-like”…it wasn’t friendly enough and didn’t really have the curves I was looking for.

I’m not buying the thickness aspect. Looks unrefined and toy-like, not friendly. How are the other images in your mood board friendly? How do they handle surfaces? What about the professionalism of a sharp knife, or precision instrument?

  1. Your right, the back panel needs to be reworked, I will have to re-examine it.

  2. I wanted the user to be able to decide where on the counter it is placed, or where it is mounted, etc. Kitchens vary in size, shape, and form, so I felt the user should have complete control over where to place it in the kitchen. The device can connect online where the user can interact with others and share recipes. The only part of the device that is touched with dirty hands are the bump bars which are located on the sides of the device (picture is attached).

Again, it’s too easy to say the user can decide. That’s a cop-out. What scenarios do you think it would work on the counter? under the cabinet? How do you control it being placed in the best spot. remember, users are stupid, and if they can mess it up, they will. Also, power and cords are a huge issue… how are you dealing with them?

I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew with the amount of time given to complete this project, but I am still learning and hopefully I can improve upon what I have now.

it is a big project, no doubt. Still, would be a great one for the portfolio if you can wrap it up, even after school. There are a lot of interesting use, form, UI and scenario issues that if tackled cohesively is a perfect portfolio work.

R

Don’t be discouraged. This is a great project and is pushing you outside of you comfort zone. That is why it feels nerve racking, but will be a huge pay off in the end. This is how you get better.

When designing this interface take a look at other self help interfaces, or even learning products such as Leap Frog computers, etc… I am not saying design it to be a kids toy, but how do they simplify things so that a child can use them. The reason that I bring this up is that this will need to teach someone how to cook by the simplest means possible. I also agree that this cannot be just a “teach me how to cook” box. There needs to be an ability to look up reference material like “What temp should my oven be at to bake a pound cake?” Maybe it is partnered with the food network? (may work, may not)

Like mentioned above the other issue is sanitation. having it a touch screen would cause all kinds of issues, but having a detached keyboard and mouse would clutter up your kitchen. Can you do this and have combined storage with the unit when not in use?

Keep moving along and keep us posted!!

I just thought of an insight that might help you. I am doing a Holiday cocktail party tonight and while I have been cooking and preping for it I have everyting I need to do written on a few pieces of paper. This is not to tell me how to cook everything, I know how to do that, but more to keep myself organized and help with timing. If you could create an interface that would help with organization in the kitchen that would be huge. Like mentioned before I do not need to be taught how to cook, but I do need to the ability to help the flow and the prep go more smoothly. Hope his helps.

Brings up another point about the user… what kind of user is it for? That profile will also direct the use scenario and ID.

For example, is it a semi-pro chef (cooks a lot, has all the gadgets, etc)? If so, they know how to cook, but maybe just need all the recipes handy.

Is it someone who doesn’t cook much at all? If so, would they buy something like this? They might need more guidance?

Someone in between? I think some justification of why the product exists linked to the user might help direct you.

IP, you bring up an interesting point. Timing can be everything in prep. Esp. if cooking a whole dinner…Makes me think of perhaps something with multiple separate timers/alerts/modules would be cool. One for each pot on the stove, one for each prep dish, or ingredient. Each one has a mini set of instructions and beeps when you need to do something, thus guiding you around the kitchen between tasks so the roast in in the oven early, meanwhile you are directed to put a pot on to boil for the potatoes, then cut the veggies, then go back to the oven to baste the roast, then put the potatoes in the pot, etc… all managed by a central device but using remote mini-modules you don’t have to always go back to the central device and run from it to the stove, back to the device, over to the counter, etc.

That’s one of the worst things I find about cookbooks, is that while you are tending something on the stove, you have to quickly run over to check timing or instructions, or move the book around with you. Maybe a single device isn’t the answer? Just as in a pro kitchen you have different lines - cook, prep, etc. You could simulate that with different modules.

R