Design makes things seem special, and who wants normal if they can have special.
How would you design your idea, if a high street company like John Lewis asked you to design a kitchenware product concept in 8 weeks for them?
They excitingly tell you that you can design whatever you want.
However, there’s a catch.
Imagine that they also have told you your design can’t include any form of plugs, wires, and even technology. What would you do?
Ok, don’t freak out. I know it may sound like a huge challenge right now, because many designs today are driven by cool technology.
But it’s possible to step back and design something as beautiful as this egg cup design that I’ve created…
Here’s how I turned a traditional kitchenware product experience into something more engaging and fun for customers.
To kick start the project, go and surround yourself with good design.
#1 VISIT STORES
I visited many stores including John Lewis. As usual, us product designers can’t be trusted in any room filled with fun products.
I can remember being like a big kid in a sweet shop. Couldn’t keep my hands to myself.
For confidential reasons, I couldn’t take photographs from my phone in John Lewis, but this didn’t stop me brainstorming on the spot…
I can remember every product was unique and had a spark to it. The use of material, quality, and form was breath taking.
I knew straight away that my material choice was going to become an important element in my design. Whilst I was nudging my friends from one product to another; something caught my eye.
#2 OPEN YOUR EYES TO INSPIRATION
From all the beautiful products that were there, who would have thought I’d get inspired by egg cups. Right at the bottom of the shelves were different egg cup designs.
I couldn’t get my eyes off them!
Some were fun to play with and some were enjoyable to just stand there and admire the aesthetics in the design…
I knew that many of my friends wouldn’t design an egg cup, because this was their reaction when I told them about my idea…
“She’s at it again, thinking outside the box…”
“Weaam you’re crazy! What are you going to do with an egg cup?”
“Can’t you just do something like a tea set like everyone else…”
It only took one glance of egg cup designs to get my brain filled with ideas.
All I was thinking to myself was…
Wouldn’t it be awesome to turn one of the most traditional cooking experiences into a more interactive and fun breakfast task.
To design an egg cup for a specific niche who genuinely enjoy eating eggs.
More inspiration that made me really giddy 😀
I would have loved to sketch for weeks and research cool designs, but I wanted to begin generating my own ideas.
To begin doing this I wanted to thoroughly observe the full process of making a soft boiled egg for breakfast.
To help me understand values that people may have during this kitchen experience, and to also spot innovative design opportunities.
#3 OBSERVING THE FULL PROCESS OF SOFT BOILED EGGS
I wanted to watch someone who really enjoyed preparing and eating soft boiled eggs.
Who better to ask than the one and only Rachael (my best neighbour who I’ve known since I was 4 years old).
I told her that I fancied learning how to make the perfect soft boiled egg, instead of telling her that I was just going to sit back and observe her.
(That would have been awkward!)
To make her feel comfortable and make her preform with natural gestures; I popped some music on (The Beatles of course) and let her do her thing…
“Weaam it’s about time you learn how to cook hahahaha :b”
Whilst I was ‘taking cooking notes’ I was brainstorming as well…
And there it was!
The spark that I was waiting for. This method of observing highlighted moments that I hadn’t even thought myself.
Racheal enjoyed making breakfast, but most importantly what I witnessed that morning was far from just boiling an egg. Rachael had a smile across her face all through the process.
I could see that she was emotionally attached to the egg cup, which brings me to the next step…
#4 EMOTIONAL DESIGN: ADD SENTIMENTAL VALUE
I discovered that I needed to find purpose and deeper meaning behind my egg cup design, so I read this book by Don Norman to help me…
With an understanding, I’m going to be cutting out most of the market research that I’ve done. I’m not going to bore you with facts and figures; I will however share with you a short scenario that emerged from my research…
A 60 year old retired man; looks across his kitchen and smiles at the egg cup set that his daughter bought him on his birthday…
When I was visualising this scenario in my head, I knew that designing a beautiful product alone isn’t good design nor it would satisfy people who love traditional breakfasts.
Especially the ones who enjoy preparing meals from scratch.
So I came to a conclusion that my egg cup design will come as a gift set.
A valuable, beautiful, fun egg cup design set that not only will it look visually pleasing and work well, but also will emotionally connect to the user.
So how can I capture this through design?
#5 CONCEPT GENERATION: EGG CUP DESIGNS
Capturing beauty with natural wood grains
Hand crafted production idea with a softer feel
Composition of different materials
Base and plate idea: Detachable piece- Designed simple as possible
Exploring natural texture of quality wood pieces
The beauty of plan view designs
Medieval and traditional aesthetics
Exploring sheet metal: Flexibility and Form
Gift box feature
#6 EVALUATING THE DESIGN CONCEPTS
I promise, no more boring stuff after this. I just want to show you that I validated these concepts in a professional manner.
Here is my specification (the short version) that I created from previous research and the project brief. I scaled the concepts from 0 to 1…
Concept 4 and 7 had the potential to create a new concept. I know concept 7 is ranked third; however I’ve got my reasons.
#7 ADDING AESTHETIC VALUE TO THE DESIGN CONCEPT
I fell in love with concept seven, because I was interested in its plan view.
Since the users that I’ve observed often looked down at their egg cup; it made sense to make the plan view the central view. I knew that the idea will add an aesthetic value to my egg cup design.
Fortunately, I came across a kitchenware product that captured similar visual language…
The Jasper Morrison Coffee Maker. I studied its visual language and discovered that the designer captured this elegant beauty by using geometric shapes. No complications; just simple design.
He achieved quality through visual relationships between every detail.
To help me move things forward, I began researching similar designers such as Dieter Rams design work.
His work opened my eyes, and helped me begin creating meaning behind my egg cup design.
I knew with this form (idea 4) and combining idea 7 to add aesthetic value, it was time to begin designing.
You may think I’m bonkers, but to challenge myself and of course to have fun; in my head I told myself that I was designing an egg cup for Dieter Rams.
Why? Because I began implementing his famous design principles (Less is more value) in my design.
I asked myself… “If Dieter Rams bought an egg cup from me, what would it be like?”
And when I did. Things changed quickly.
(I think at the time I took the question literally hahahaha)
#8 DEVELOPING THE EGG CUP DESIGN
Here is the concept that emerged from idea 4 and 7…
At this stage, sketching alone wasn’t enough. So I put together a few bits and bobs from the kitchen to help me get a rough idea of proportions…
(Model created with tea spoon, milk bottle top, and ceramic tea tray)
I needed to also ensure that most sizes and types of eggs can sit snugly in the egg hole. I knew that finding the exact size of the hole will be a nightmare.
So during my concept development I measured a medium sized egg with a strap of paper…
Bear in mind all this stealing from the kitchen (sorry mum) was at 3am, I couldn’t wait to go in the workshop the following day and start modelling.
But first I had to develop the arrangement of the plate…
The focus here was to begin creating visual relationships between the features.
I ended up selecting the third design, because the first one was too predictable. The second was awkward.
But the third however captured a step by step process, which would create a bit fun for the user. Also the layout looked much tighter.
8am, it was time to hit the workshop for a few weeks…
#9 PROTOTYPE DEVELOPMENT: MODEL 1
SolidWorks CAD Model For Measurements:
Vacuum Forming Over The Mould To Achieve The Plate Design:
Testing the model…
The inspiration for the spoon design was from a dental mirror spoon that I saw at my dentist. From this, I wanted to capture a scientific technical touch to make the user feel that he is using an apparatus…
I was fascinated by how my dentist held his apparatus with such elegancy.
- Too cramped
- Egg hole needed to be deeper to secure egg
- Spoon recess should be on the right
- User didn’t need to stand up and throw the shell
- The user placed it to the side (became part of the aesthetics)
- The egg hole was positioned well
- The hole on the spoon location was understandable
- Brief Spoon Development…
Initially I wanted to include a knife in my egg cup gift set to slice the tip of the egg, but after this first spoon prototype model; it got me thinking…
To create a subtle rim (lip) around the spoon dome. The rim (highlighted in red) will be able to crack and slice the boiled egg. As the great Dieter Rams said…
“Good design is as little design as possible”.
And this was my approach to every single element of my egg cup design.
Everything needed to have purpose.
#10 DEVELOPING THE PLATE FORMAT
As you’ve already gathered, underpinning the size and achieving the appropriate proportions was a challenge. These 2D card models were created after many paper models that I had done.
I decided to resize the plate once again into A5 sheet size. Things appeared more spacious and pleasing to the eye.
Further development with 2D Adobe Illustrator visuals…
The egg cup design was beginning to act as a technical drawing sheet.
It started to reflect my consumer’s persona in terms of looking simple, technical, accurate, and sophisticated.
Existing technical drawings were very helpful to look at for inspiration.
They helped me tighten the visual language of the design and create beauty by visual relationships between features.
Developing the concept from workshop models…
#11 PROTOTYPE DEVELOPMENT: MODEL 2
SolidWorks CAD Model For Measurements:
(Spoon was on the left for vacuum form issues)
Vacuum Forming Over The Mould To Achieve The Plate Design:
(I redesigned the spoon again; you’ll realise why)
Testing Model Two:
- New designed spoon needed to be flushed in nicely.
- Bottom of the spoon recess needed to be reduced.
- Egg hole should be 43mm in the next model, not 45mm.
- Bottom circle and the egg cup circle need a link.
- The next development spoon: refine the detail ring (1mm).
A brief spoon design transformation…
#12 PROTOTYPE DEVELOPMENT: MODEL 3
Model 3 was a development of model 2.
The egg cup’s tip was cut flat, because I wanted to see if it could stand by itself.
Aesthetically it ruined the egg cup hole and functionally it made the egg wobble.
Also from modelling feedback, I discovered that the block design secured the plate and became one of the most important aesthetic elements in the design.
#13 PROTOTYPE DEVELOPMENT: MODEL 4
Beautiful relationships in the visual language began to emerge. This was great, because it added major aesthetic value…
The design looked tight and striking. Measurements needed to be on point for accurate tolerances…
Testing model 4…
Model 4 was more or less nearly looking like the final design.
But there was something missing. So I took inspiration from technical imageries i.e. engineering drawings, scientific apparatus and began roughly drawing construction lines on the model.
This added the missing spark!
It brought life to the design. I knew with a bit of development that this idea will make people enjoy the process even more.
#14 ADDING FUN TO YOUR PRODUCT DESIGN
When I started adding arrows and construction lines onto the plate, things felt different. My egg cup design was no longer this object that held an egg. It was much more than this.
The lines and arrows aren’t designed to undermine anyone. They’re smartly there for aesthetic values and to make people smile. To have fun!
To make uses literally feel that they are going through a scientific experiment.
You’ll be wondering why the final model was made from wood. The reason was that I couldn’t achieve the crisp radiuses on the circles with the vacuum form finish.
Final touch ups…
Final Adobe Illustrator Visual Sketch…
Ok now we’ve added fun and more or less nearly there with the final design; lets put it to the test now…
#15 IS THE EGG CUP DESIGN ENGAGING?
Detailed testing of the whole process of making a soft boiled egg:
Observing how someone interacts with your design is really exciting.
You don’t know what to expect and the best thing of it all is you identify issues that you wouldn’t have realised on your own sitting with a pen and paper.
I let things flow. Let Racheal interact with it in her own way, and found that there were a few minor refinements that needed developing…
#16 MICRO DESIGN DEVELOPMENT
REFINING THE SPOON DESIGN
When I was designing and testing the spoon; the overall size was appropriate.
However, there were minor issues…
The dome for the mouth part seemed a little bit deep. When my users tested it they had to lick the inside of the spoon to reach the yolk. That wasn’t a pretty image.
So I reduced the depth to be comfortable in the mouth.
Also the spoon had to sit comfortable on the plate. So I enlarged the spoon’s stem length by 10mm to accurately flush into the plate recess.
Final hand tweaks…
And finally 1mm rim (the lip) around the spoon was enough to crack and slice an egg, as shown…
The 1mm lip is softer on the front for the user’s comfort and tighter on the back for definition.
REFINING THE EGG CUP BASE
To connect parts together I also added construction lines on the block as well.
I chose to make the egg cup block out of silicone to add aesthetic value through my material choice. You see choosing an unconventional material for an ordinary product can bring excitement.
I had an opportunity to actually make the block out of silicone in the university workshop. I had to use a few techniques for the right surface finishes that I wanted i.e. sand blasting and creating a RP mould.
The only issue that the block had was the space around the circle. It didn’t need to be that spacious; so I reduced it.
Final adobe illustrator visual sketch…
#17 PRESENTATION MATERIAL
After all that hard work, it’s time to make a final visual prototype for your clients. I added the minor details such as logo and the product details i.e. materials.
I didn’t have the right materials and the manufacturing tools to design the egg cup ready to be put in stores.
I did however manage to make a visual and functional egg cup design that looks like the real kitchenware product:
The materials for the egg plate and the spoon are not exactly the materials I wanted to use.
If the egg cup plate were to be in stores, it’ll be made from ceramic with printed graphics on it (construction lines and logo name) and the spoon would be stainless steel.
The silicone base will still be the same. Also the logo will be hand etched on the spoon.
In this case I had to think outside the box on how to represent these materials visually and functionally:
- Ceramic plate: 3D printed, sanded, then sprayed
- Stainless Steel Spoon: Made from brass then silver plated
- Graphics on plate: fake tattoo technique
Hey, the egg was real :-b
What matters is the whole prototype is a functional and enjoyable model… It works !
If I had the right materials and manufacturing processers then it be a different story but then again that’s the beauty of the projects.
It helps you to think out of the box and have experiences that you’ll never forget. I’ll never forget the day I took photos of my egg cup.
I can remember Racheal and I made around 9 eggs to get the right looking egg. I took with me cold toast with a can a coke to represent coffee in the mug. And persuaded the manager of the showroom to let me take photos.
It all came together in the end…
A beautiful, functional egg cup design for the high street giants. And of course for the egg lovers.
I’ve enjoyed going through the full design process and learning a whole different perspective of design. But most importantly I enjoyed seeing people smiles and wanting my egg cup, including…
Sir Howard (Nike Designer): “Weaam this is genius! Can I take it home with me please…”– at 2012 New Designers Exhibition at London.
I hope that this project inspires you all to open your eyes to all inspiration, to not follow the crowd, and to design with emotion…
“Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user”- Dieter Rams.
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