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Please read – Guest Post from Claire

May 6, 2008
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If you can take the time to read this and answer a few questions, my daughter Claire would greatly appreciate it. Thank you for your time!

Hello everyone, this is Claire (Casey’s daughter). I am a design student and am currently finishing my thesis project, for which I need your help. Here’s the deal: I need feedback for my project, and so I need as many people as possible to comment on it.

My project is a cooking station. The concept behind the product is to change the traditional ‘dinner-party’ model, in which one person (usually the hostess) is confined to the kitchen getting the food ready while the rest of the party sit at the table and wait to be served before they can all enjoy their meal together. The idea is to achieve this by refocusing the social activity around the cooking station. This is done by allowing for multiple users and encouraging people to eat as they cook, the idea being to experiment different recipes in order to taste many different things in one session. The plan is to instigate more freedom into the cooking process, and promote good food by focusing people’s attentions on the processes relating to it; the result being that they will take the time to enjoy it rather than shoving it down their throats in front of TV.

The design consists of a large (80x120cm, 31.5×47.2in for the Americans) vitro-ceramic surface powered by induction, set on an inverse U-shaped stainless steel structure (80cm high), supporting two sets of shelves (40cm(15.7in) wide) (four in total).

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The ‘island’ shape of the unit permits access from all sides, which allows for multiple users. The smooth top is designed for versatility in its accommodation of cooking methods and maximal hygiene. Induction is used to power the unit, which ensures the safety of unsupervised and inquisitive children (as the surface itself does not heat up, only the cooking vessel). Adjustable shelves provide modular storage space and are removable to allow for wheelchair access. The aesthetics of the unit are designed to reflect those of a contemporary luxury kitchen, inspired by the work of top kitchen design companies.

Ergonomics is a big part of the design. The height is calculated so that the ingredients are more visible in the pots and so it is possible for wheelchair users to cook. In order for it to be possible to comfortably chop vegetables or complete other tasks which require more height, a series of ‘elements’ have been designed to go with the cooking station.

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Here are some renderings to give you an idea of the operation of the cooking station. Unfortunately I don’t have any good photos of the model as of yet.

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So, tell me what you think. Don’t hesitate to be mean (I know you guys are usually too nice).

I need to know whether you would be willing to try it, and if you think it’s a good idea. If you can be more precise and say how much you would pay for such a product or things like that, that’s even better. Don’t wreck your heads over it or anything; I’m also conducting a focus group.

Thank you!!!!!!!!

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 6, 2008 10:25 am

    I have tried viewing the images in both Firefox and Internet Explorer, but the message stays the same: Your browser may not support display of this image.

    Love,
    Pippa

  2. May 6, 2008 11:13 am

    Casey, check the coding for the images. I looked at “View Source”, and the codes and filenames are wrong for images.

  3. May 6, 2008 11:14 am

    Hi Claire and Casey! I can’t see the images, either. I’ve seen your renderings in real life, though, and I think the workstation is super good-looking. I wonder about the height of the station itself. My kitchen island and my cooktop are 36″ high, which is perfect for someone 5’9″ (as I am) or taller. I’d have a hard time working at a surface which was 31.5″ from the floor, as this one is. I know you say you’d have ‘elements’ at varying heights for chopping, etc, but I don’t remember what those were like. Could you explain a bit for those of us who can’t see the images?
    Would it be possible to offer your product with varying dimensions—just a couple of different heights, for example?
    How do you see the workstation relating to an existing sink and oven and to a house’s dining areas? i think it would be helpful to show sketches of the station in the larger context of an ideal kitchen/dining room(s), since you rightly emphasize the importance of the communal aspect of food preparation and mealtimes.
    I don’t know about prices at all. I’m afraid. I love your general idea and the overall look of the station!

  4. May 6, 2008 11:25 am

    I’d be glad to help out but my browser does not support the images so i can’t see. Casey has my address and you can always send it to me in an email with attachments. Just let me know@!

  5. May 6, 2008 11:43 am

    Hi 🙂 I think this is a great idea you’ve got; after spending a few minutes looking over the design I was thinking perhaps if you were to add another board to the left and right side that can be folded down as to not take up more room than needed but so they’re available for people to use to put their plate on and eat while at the cooking area and it could also double as extra space for any extra utensils the cook might need to have on hand. I think $600-$800 would be a fair price to pay for something like this.

    Good luck 🙂

    Mike

  6. May 6, 2008 12:10 pm

    Looks like a great design idea. From a cooks point of view, the top looks a bit too low to be comfortable. A waist high counter would save my own aging back. I also think that you need space to place a drink or plate while conversing. I also think it might be helpful to have a work station that would accomodate several cooks as people might want to help out. This looks like its the size of a one person station. I love your idea and good luck with everything. Hope this helps.

  7. May 6, 2008 12:11 pm

    PS I LOVE the knife storage under the board. Does the top snap off for cleaning?

  8. Claire permalink
    May 6, 2008 1:06 pm

    Wow! That was fast! I knew I could count on you guys.. very efficient commenting!
    To answer some of your questions:
    The idea behind the ergonomics is that the cooking station provides a base, tall enough for cooking purposes (I think there might be a difference with american and european sizes, this is meant for europeans) which can than be built on to adjust for different tasks. this way, if two people are different sizes they can get different sets of elements to suit them. The ones featured here are just examples.
    Also, the surface is designed to support all the different elements as well as plates, glasses, etc… Once the power is on, only the magnetic cooking utensils react and heat up; so the idea is for it to act as a simple table when not used for cooking.
    I think those were the main concerns.. I have to go hand another project up, so I have to go, but keep’em coming, this is really a big help because I can see what needs more explanation for my presentation…
    Thank you!!!

  9. Claire permalink
    May 6, 2008 1:07 pm

    Oh, and the cuts go right through the knife storage, so nothing gets stuck inside.. it’s being prototyped, so I’ll post a picture for you when it’s finished.
    x

  10. Claire permalink
    May 6, 2008 2:20 pm

    oh, and I forgot to say that you have to take into consideration that the virtual models are wearing very very high pants (couldn’t figure out how to modify that), so the surface looks lower than it actually would be (only about 10cm lower than usual)

  11. May 6, 2008 4:37 pm

    Hi Claire,
    I couldn’t see all of the pictures but I got a general idea. Never heard of the kind of cooktop you’re talking about but I really like the idea of such a thing. I also like the notion behind the cooking station – to get people together cooking and eating and interacting. I’ve done group cooking – family gatherings, friends over just to cook – and the island would make it much easier to accomplish things without people tripping over each other.

    I like that you’ve included a spot for a wheelchair. You may want to expand that to include any chair. My mother can’t stand for a long time but is not in a wheelchair.

    Price-wise I’d expect it to run about the same as a stainless steel oven. Haven’t ever oven shopped so I have no idea what price that’d be. The additional parts I’d expect to run $30 – $60. Some things (like the knife block/cutting board) look like they could be useable separate from the cooking center.

    Have you considered a portable/fold down type unit for smaller spaces? Something that might be moved to a basement or out on a patio for instance or loaded into a vehicle to go to another house?

    That’s all I can think of at the moment. Great idea! Good luck.

    -Sue in Maine

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