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Melbourne 2019

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Young professionals with a young family who likes to cook as a hobby or trying to commit to this task regularly. Many of these users are juggling between work and family. 

The majority of the young male and female professionals are in the thirties. The youngest in their late twenties and the oldest is over forty years. Most of them have at least two children who are in primary school. The majority of them both work away from home, although there is a small percentage that works from home and occasionally have to travel away to work. Many couples also alternate their roles for housework and their jobs, so they are able to spend time looking after their children equally and getting housework done quickly. In Figure 3 shows the context of young professionals when it comes to cooking, preparing, dining & cleaning. Majority of these activities occurs in the kitchen, dining table, and the office. Occasionally, the users eat out or buy takeaway on the way home from work. Also from the Table 2, it shows the changes of cooking & preparation has changed over the last few decades across all cultures . In the past families gathered together and communities, while now it's becoming separated. However, in the future multiple generations will be living together, so there will be more socialising time spent together since currently there are a few young families that live with their parents or in-laws.

From research and the cultural probes conducted, majority of the users try to maintain a healthy diet for themselves and their family. Many enjoy cooking, but have limited time to do so and usually have their partners to help them during the process. However, they do not cook regularly, especially at the end of the day for dinner as they are often very tired. This causes them to buy take out but usually happens at least once a week. A lot of the mothers who work full time tend to do a lot of household work while the father usually spends a lot of time with their children at the end of the day.
Multiple strategies were applied to employ the identification of latent needs, which include:
 Cultural probe- This helped to observe through the user’s eyes of their daily activities in this context. A user observation database (Table 1) was used to find a pattern across all the users observed.
 Brainstorming- Helped to understand the problems and positives the users faced in the context and their activities (Figures 1,2,3,6).
 Venn diagram- This was used to analyse the user, context and the market where the gaps and design opportunities are. This will be further justified in Identification of design Opportunities section (Figure 9).

Cultural probes
The cultural probes (Figures 5) helped gain an insight into the user’s daily life from their perspective of what they like and disliked about cooking and preparing their meals and where they ate, as this is the area that is being focused on. Using the user observation database (Table 1) helped sort out the common factors that each user encountered. This helped to understand the common needs, wants, and positives that occur in these activities and helped make a distinctive pattern.
The users were asked to shade in the clocks how long it took for them to prepare and cook a meal to give a visual representation comparison across the four days. This also helped to clarify and understand specifically how much time is put into a meal on a daily basis and using time efficiently (Figure 4). From this visual representational data results helped to easily identify when the time was least used and the most. From these clocks, most of the users spend at least 10 minutes for breakfast. Lunch is usually brought or prepared during breakfast, unless they work at home it is usually leftovers that are eaten. Dinner has usaully spent an average of 30 minutes, as they are tired after a busy day and tend to cook something that is quick and uses less effort or has leftovers from a previous meal. On the other hand, on weekends preparing and cooking meals are more relaxed. Breakfast and lunch are around 30 minutes. Dinner can take up to two hours as this is usually the main meal everyone gets to spend time together.
During the main three meals throughout the day, many of the users were multi- tasking especially during breakfast as they have to get their kids ready for school and themselves to work and pack lunches for the day. During this time, they hardly had enough time to eat let alone making breakfast. Many of them enjoy sitting with their family during meals either at the dining table or in the lounge room to relax after a busy day. Majority of them packed lunches to take to work, except the two users who work at home. Many of them prefer fresh and healthy food, especially if they have to eat leftovers or occasionally have a takeaway, but usually happens at least once a week. On the weekends, many of them have lots of time to prepare their favourite meals for their family but
takes them more than an hour. Many families eat what their children are eating and their choice of food, so the meals are often tried to make to be healthy using fresh vegetables.
Brainstorming mind maps of the users, context, activities and the problems help to understand & identify the needs and factors that are going well in this context. The users they mainly help each other when cooking. Many of the activities are held in the kitchen, dining table and office or lounge room to prepare and eat.

This user group is very busy individuals who are always juggling between family, work commitments and household chores. From the cultural probes, during breakfast, they tend to multi-task and have very limited of time to get their children ready for school and feeding them breakfast while preparing themselves for work. One of the latent needs that will drive this project is to involve young children to help their parents to learn how to cook and help reduce time preparing meals during the busy times of the day.
Another need is that the users were constantly disliking (Figure 5) not having fresh food regularly. Most of this applied to leftovers being in a container in a fridge for a while then warmed up in a microwave to eat later on. Warming up the food took a while, but a lot of nutrients and taste changed and was not the same as it was initially to satisfy them.
Also at the end of each day, many users are exhausted after a busy day and most of the time do not feel like cooking. Many of them have to make something that is quick and simple, that does not have a complicated process so they are able to relax straight away. However, there are a few that live with their in-laws who make dinner for the whole family. At the same time, they are usually helping their children with homework and doing other household chores which make life a bit challenging during that time of day. (Figure 6)

The area that will be addressed is on preparing and cooking the meal. This area will be focused on this project because many of the users can cook, but there are a few that do not know how to cook and only know what to prepare something like toast or two-minute noodles. This was also evident through the cultural probes and sometimes cooking is not always involved in making a meal, especially for breakfast. Also in the younger generations, such as the user’s children may not be able to learn the basic skill of cooking, as their parents are always busy with other responsibilities. Also, this area is focused as it closely links with Electrolux Design Lab’s design criteria for future home appliances.
There are currently lots of products in this area of cooking and preparing meals. Each product has a slight variation, function and different purposes, but are not all are useful. Starting off with the positive solutions in the current market (Table 3 & 4) are integrating smart technology, such as smartphones, wifi, intelligent technology that makes the products function automatically. Many products are becoming smaller and slimmer in size, to make it easy to carry and usable (Figure 7). Many of these products have minimal maintenance such as washing & wiping to make them last long. A lot of products are becoming innovative & creative to the topic of cooking of integrating smart technology. This significantly helps a lot of users when it comes to using time efficiently, using notification systems to help with multi-tasking smoother. Also, many of the advertising through social media and television cooking shows are persuasive in advertising the products. Many products are becoming more sustainable (Figure 8) and lasting long for the users to pass down on to generations.
On the other hand, many products are confusing to use such as the pressure cooker and mixers. Especially for people who are not familiar around the kitchen. Some of these products are time-consuming when cooking, such as the pressure cookers, heating up leftovers using the microwaves. Many products are functional and serve its purpose, but they are not simple enough for the users to understand how it is used. Many products do not last long, due to the quality of materials. Hence, further use makes it worn out and breaks quickly. Also, most products only solves and caters for one problem and functionality, which makes the user have multiple products and less space to storage them in the kitchen as spaces in houses are decreasing.

From observing the past and current products on the market (Figure 7) it is evident that technology will be the main driver for future kitchen products. From the two trend matrices (Table 2 & 5) there are many emerging trends around cooking and preparing food. One of the trends is cooking at home. İn the past this was a time for family and friends to gather in a social setting. Depending on the social class many kitchens where built separate behind living areas, so usually, servants were mainly in the kitchen and families in the dining room. Currently, many people are becoming busy with their work and life and are decreasing the amount of meals that are being cooked at home and time spent together. Also, because many women or now joining the workforce and do not always have time to cook and also the skill of cooking may not have been passed down; especially in the younger generations. Also, people are being encouraged to cook more frequently at home by having television cooking shows and social media advertising. Educating about the consequences of eating out regularly which is expensive and unhealthy. In the future, it is predicted that many families will take time out to cook in the kitchen with their family with everyone helping out at least. And the use of intelligent products to help the cooking process more easy less, stress-free and more time to utilise the experience of cooking.
Another trend is that healthy eating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is becoming apparent. Due to stress health concerns are increasing now, due to the busy lifestyle. Therefore, meals are not being prepared at home and are mostly brought as they are convenient. Advertising through social media, magazines, blogs and television shows are a huge factor to the increase of recommending healthy food outlets and restaurants that make people visit regularly. When it comes to having a healthy weight there are products like cleansers and smoothie blenders that persuade people to buy to make a difference to their health. Many users are becoming conscious on work-life balance and trying to be stress-free. In the future, it is predicted people will be more aware of what they eat and where it comes from and how to cook it. Homegrown produce will be highly encouraged for people to eat fresh produce regularly. This will also make the learning experience enjoyable and about making smart choices to what we consume.
Technology integration is quickly becoming our daily part of our lives. İn the past many products were analogue and now the integration of smartphone and wifi is increasing. People are able to order food from online, apps or call and products are becoming aesthetically pleasing. İn the future technology such as 3D printers, multi-functional appliances, holograms and computer system controls will be predominant in the future kitchen household. Many kitchens will have a vertical garden and use the sunlight as renewable energy. Biotechnology will be used for growing meat in labs to make eating food more sustainable and ethical (Figure 8).
Also, many products are becoming more sustainable, with recyclable materials and components, that help the product last a long time and is environmentally friendly.In the past knowing about where food comes from, how it is transported and the resources that are used were not known to people. Now resources are decreasing and currently the younger generations are being educated about the consequences. In the future, it will be expected that many will know where their food comes from, how it was made and the quality of the products used.

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