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National Winner

Haptics of Cooking

A series of blind cooking utensils design by the experience of touch

  • Family photo

  • Leaking Measure Cup

  • Short Hold Knife

  • Sectional Cutting Board

  • Warm Wood Lid

What it does

It is a series of blind kitchen tools designed by the experience of touch. It is an inventive approach to improve the independence of blind life from a sensational inclusive perspective, and a new form of functionality and aesthetic through a haptic sense.

Your inspiration

Seeing might be believing. Ironically, non-seers have sharper senses and are attuned to the environment much more than those who see. Naturally, we fear losing sight as we know the importance of vision. The difference in reliance on vision inspired me to think about the dominant perspective of seeing, and the alternative of visual sense.

How it works

The design focused on the three main parts of the cooking process, cutting, measuring, boiling. By thinking from the haptic point of view, the translation of the function is inventively redesigned. For measuring liquids, the user can feel when the liquid volume reaches a specific level by blocking it with fingertips. The wooden cutting board considers how it is possible to keep everything that has been cut on the board. A wide groove creates a moat around the edge into which cut food can be pushed. A gap at the bottom forms a convenient place to tuck the knife out of the way in order to prevent accidental cuts. The stainless steel knife is short and compact, with a length of just 18cm. It is easy to hold, well balanced in weight, and allows the user to get close to the food to stay in control. The pot lid is created from sauna wood. It heats slowly and remains comfortable to touch. The shape is concave and also allows food to be placed onto it.

Design process

The design process started with the research of observing design with the visually impaired clients and the visual rehabilitation institutions. It inspires me to take the most challenging task of the independent life of the visually impaired, which is cooking independently. The cutting board is the first product of the series. The main problem with the flat surface is difficult to keep everything inside of the border. So the is to design the cutting surface in a shape that could be easily navigated by touch. The first prototype is rather shallow and small. So the next update design improves the depth and size due to the feedbacks of the research. A handy knife emphasis on nice handling works well with the haptic cutting board. The proper shape and weight take twenty different versions till it reaches a perfect balance and comfort. The visually impaired measure liquid by putting their finger into the cup. The original idea is to make the cup into silicone material, but the contact is too subtle. In order to emphsis the direct contact of food, it's a controversial but surprising choice to make holes in the cup. The pan lid is also a series of shape studies. Its original shape is similar to the Asian wooden lid. It develops gradually into a shape in between a plate and lid.

How it is different

The kitchen tools are not only for the visually - impaired but can make everyone experience cooking without sight and get the feel for haptic navigation and information processing, hands-on. The monopoly of vision is questioned through its absence and the tools bring to light that "seeing" is not only visual. As the tools are designed from the sense everyone shares - touch, it provides a new but universal approach of function design and a sensationally inclusive design. It creates a shared perspective between those with regular vision and the vision-impaired and a common ground of dignity and understanding without categorizing anyone from any privilege. On the other hand, it is also an innovative approach to improve comfort and user experience for the general audiences from the haptic point of view. It introduces a new side of functionality through the use of haptic senses.

Future plans

The project is at the prototype stage now. The next step is to improve the usability and details, in order to reach the market production. On the other hand, the design theory behind the design is also educational. I am working with blind designer Simon Dogger on the topic 'Haptic Aesthetics'. Haptic Aesthetics is an innovative sensational inclusive design method exploring design and creating new aesthetics from a non-visual perspective by using haptic sense. The next step of the theory is to make workshops and teaching in school, and share the idea with the future designers.


IF Design Talent Award 2021 Core 77 Design Award 2021 Makeme Design Award Finalist 2021

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