Cumulus Green 2024

Honorable Mention

The Fresh Exhibit Kitchen

Maísa Neves Pimenta

IADE – Universidade Europeia, Portugal

“According to compelling statistics, the problem of food waste requires urgent actions at the consumer level. Our project is the result of a Master’s degree dissertation that sought to answer the question “How can the design of domestic kitchens help the user to decrease his food waste?”.

The factors related to food waste on a domestic scale are very diverse, which implies a considerably challenging scenario. They are related both to internal causes, such as the kitchen structure and the food storage conditions, and to external causes, such as the existing commercial infrastructure, and socio-cultural factors that directly influence the families’ eating routines.

We understand that the kitchen is part of the users’ everyday lives, whose design can include innovative features. For years, parameters have been established to guarantee the comfort and efficiency of the kitchen as a “”laboratory”” of domestic life. We consider it necessary to update them considering the contemporary dynamics of everyday life and to challenge the status quo in order to create more responsible food handling practices.

We have selected a set of strategies that guide professionals in the creation of innovative design projects for sustainable behaviour change. This was done through extensive literature review and reference analysis. These strategies involve the provision of information to the consumer, encouraging responsible choices, directing behaviour by creating constraints and stimuli, using technology for innovation and for intelligent design that steers the user.

The Fresh Exhibit Kitchen realizes in practice the theoretical conclusions reached at this dissertation. The proposed kitchen design shows how our guidelines can be applied in a simple way and with technology available on the market.

For instance, the storage space for the most perishable foods (those which need the greatest attention from the user) is located in the kitchen’s central area, so to have maximum visibility and to be close to the sink. We have selected this space to implement a rail system in which modular trays always run from left to right. It also helps family communication by establishing a routine in which new items always enter on the left and runs to the right as the time to be eaten approaches.

Non-perishable foods, as well as those foods that need to be protected from light (e.g., onions, potatoes), were placed in cabinets that can be seen whenever users need to reach utensils or dishware.

Also, we have considered the creation of spaces with different conditions (lighting, ventilation, humidity, etc.) for the food groups. To assist the user, we have developed a communication system to guide users so to storage each food according to its needs. This system is composed of graphic symbols and different materials (white for the domestic utensils and raw wood for food).
Our project was conceived to be applied on a minimal space. We believe that it can be adapted to different scenarios and our guidelines work as a source of inspiration and support for innovative ideas to reduce food waste at the consumer level.