We took the Core77 1 Hour Design Challenge on the road to "A Better World by Design," last weekend, a 3 day student-run conference at Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University. Focusing on climate change, slum living, and over-dependence on fossil fuels, the underlying message of the conference was how individuals can (and have) effect change by empowering communities to collaborate and act now.
If the 1 Hour Design Challenge is the kind of activity you save for a rainy day, that day arrived in full force last Saturday. Breaking for lunch, attendees were put into small teams, given a large sketch pad, sharpies, and this design challenge:
For this Live 1 Hour Design Challenge, Core77 invites you to redefine, redesign, and re-imagine... "The Next TV Dinner."
The TV Dinner, first introduced to the world in 1953, promised convenience, affordability, and a revolutionary way to serve meals to your family. As the advertisements proclaimed, there was "No Work Before" and "No Dishes After!"
In 2009, the landscapes of consumption, food, health and entertainment have seen radical change: Childhood obesity is up 400%. The average American household has a TV playing for 8 hours and 14 minutes every day. 66% of Americans regularly watch television while eating dinner. Add to these statistics the reduction of time families spend eating meals together, the onslaught of processed foods into our diets, and the widespread use of unsustainable food packaging, and you've got a area ripe for design intervention
THE LIVE CHALLENGE
Most teams stuck closely to brief (an instant meal), addressing issues of nutrition, locally sourced food, closed loop systems for delivery, recycling and various takes on cloud based apps with user profiles, rating meals and netflix-style ordering systems.
A number of entries incorporated an educational component ranging from healthy eating tips to conversational topic starters for the dinner table. Surprisingly there wasn't a single twitter-based entry and only one iPhone App. The vibe was great, there was a lot of valuable dialogue and it created an opportunity for participants to mix with each other in a meaningful way--especially given the diverse background of attendees and age range.
Click through to see the finalists & winning entry.
Judges included Core77 forum moderator and 1HDC founder Jon Winebrenner, Leslie Fontana, Head of Industrial Design at RISD, William Vespa from Tool, Inc., Core77's veteran moderator Michael DiTullo from Converse, and Glen Taylor from Core77. The 24 submissions were narrowed down to 6 finalists. Pretty much everyone nailed the concept of a closed loop system, so what stood out to the judges were entries that took a point of view.
THE 60 SEC ELEVATOR PITCH
On Sunday, a designated spokesperson from each of the 6 finalists was invited on stage to give a 60 second elevator pitch for their idea. We brought out the infamous Core77 Clap-O-Meter (an iPhone app) and the audience voted on their favorite entry.
Winner: Screen Gourmet
The crowd favorite was this vending machine proposed for student dorms (arguably the worst offenders of bad eating) that packages a healthy meal with the incentive of a free movie. A few entries pitched the tray recycling at point of purchase concept, but these guys had the clearest execution and we love the idea of special themed meals packaged to go with a movie.
This group picked up on a notion raised in one of the presentations that teens and tweens are the real change makers. The family meal (a picnic) is prepared by students after school who learn about the nutritional value and over time can influence the eating habits at home. We liked the idea of using the school infrastructure as a distribution network and that the word 'picnic' implies the meal is a communal activity that won't take place in front of a screen.
Out of the many system-based entries that took into consideration the full impact of delivering healthy meals to homes on demand, this one stood out because it focused on supporting local businesses. The premise is your food comes either prepared or as raw ingredients ready to cook from local restaurants, groceries and farmers markets--you can feel good knowing your money has gone directly back into your community, perhaps even to business owners you personally know.
Feed Your Mind
In what became known as the educational category, this one captured our imagination the most, a themed meal that offers both a cultural experience and the opportunity to learn more about the origins of the food. In this example, an Italian dinner comes packaged in a collectible Leaning Tower of Pisa box. These meals could offer special dining experiences if they were presented by renowned restaurants from around the world--they could even come with a suggested wine list from experts.
The iPhone App-etizer
Although this entry didn't technically take the form of a prepared meal, it nearly won for making so much sense. Like the Nike+ running app, you can track your eating habits, nutrition, set diet goals and profile yourself against others in the system. Using the phones camera as a barcode reader, you can make informed decisions at the supermarket and download relevant recipes based on whats in season or on sale.
With the tagline "9 perfect bytes of food", this was one of the few entries that specifically targeted the issue of obesity, with an added layer of educational fun embedded into the tray. As you eat the 'bytes', secret facts and urls hidden under the food are revealed sending you off on a mission to learn more. The judges debated whether you could really have a perfect meal that's right for everyone, but took a leap of faith that there would be a variety of meals available to match your build. This team also got extra credit for having the best product name.
We'd like to give a special thanks to the awesome student moderators from Brown & RISD who made the Live 1 Hour Design Challenge possible, and look forward to seeing everyone again next year.