Experience Prototype

Today, I loaded up my entire kitchen and brought it to the studio. I used my classmates and our studio space to test out various instruction styles to cook and assemble a meal in 20 minutes.

A large part of the organization focused around selecting recipes that could be made with portable equipment and adjusting them to feed the entire class. Using a portable space meant tallying not only ingredients but utensils, plates, bowls, appliances, tools and dishtowels necessary for cooking in a warehouse. It was a great challenge in organization and planning.

My role as the designer included the structure and format of instruction. The class was divided into four stations of two people. Each station had a different set of tasks, varying in complexity, and a different style of instruction. I re-interpreted the recipe to facilitate the experience of two people cooking together. Here are two examples:

One divided the tasks giving each person an independent set of tasks that would come together at the end.

The instructions were split onto two sheets, creating autonomy of each chef to complete the task.

The second divides the preparation of ingredients on one sheet so each person can glance and see what their partner is doing. Once prepared, the individuals come together and are instructed to figure out how to accomplish the cooking as a team.

I tested out some assumptions I had about the best way to read and follow instructions. These elements were consistent across the groups:

  • The list of ingredients was integrated into the instructions as one narrative
  • Different kinds of content were given different type treatments (ex: measurements were bold and capitalized)
  • Where applicable, tasks were grouped into sets of like activities or completed parts that added to the whole recipe

 

 

And after all that, it was delicious.

While we ate, I asked the class to process and provide feedback on what they had just done. Some assumptions were confirmed:

  • Those whose instructions separated them from their partner had a more overwhelming and less positive experience, cooking together was more enjoyable
  • Cooking together leads to conviviality as well as the sharing of stories
  • Eating together was a more engaging experience since they had just cooked together

I also learned a few things:

  • In partners who varied in experience level, the more skilled felt the need to monitor their partner
  • Some basic cooking fundamentals that were assumed needed to be explained for the inexperienced such as teaspoon (tsp) vs tablespoon (Tbsp)
  • In unfamiliar or complex recipes, people felt more anxious and desired photos of each step
  • In simple recipes, people were more inclined to personalize or add flavors to the dish

Overall, this was a very successful venture and I learned more than I could have hoped for. I need to do more analysis on what just happened and how I can best use the information for my thesis project.

JournalKaren Whistler