In 2012, 40% of Scandinavian households had only one occupant and this trend continues to grow. Daily, these households face the challenges of cooking for one: shopping and preparing small portions while trying to minimize waste; motivating yourself to spend the time to cook and then eat alone; attempting not to eat the same leftovers for too many days in a row; resisting the temptation of consuming convenient ready-meals or going for take-away. Since 1980, the amount of home cooked meals has dropped from 72% to approximately 50%. But what if there was an alternative to ready-meals that had the same convenience while providing you with the freedom, variety and quality of traditional home cooking? What if cooking for yourself could be a convenient and enjoyable experience?
Inspiration and Method
The project was inspired by my personal experience of not cooking as much or eating as well as I wanted to over the past years. I missed the experience of spending time in the kitchen, preparing a proper meal. There is not much joy in frozen pizzas or eating out every other night. My research showed that I wasn’t alone; so the challenge was to create a product that would allow the right balance of convenience, experience and quality of food.
In-depth interviews and shadowing of users was done to learn about everyday routines and needs in single-person households and to map out the journey through the process of cooking, from planning and shopping to cleaning and storing. I analysed the industry, competitors, market, current trends, future technology and societal predictions and interviewed author and food historian Ken Albala to gain a historical perspective. Workshops, sketches and physical mock-ups were used to create, evaluate and validate my concepts with users, professional chef Björn Norén and representatives from Whirlpool.
Whirlpool Fastronomy is a single serving cooker that is linked to a food ordering service. The service allows you to browse and order food in Whirlpool’s online store and have it delivered at your convenience by one of the local collaborating producers of fresh ingredients. The food comes vacuum packed in single serving portions and is pre-cooked when necessary to ensure high quality. You can mix and match the accompanied seasoning and sauces, and choose a preferred cooking method (or leave the choice to the device) to achieve a variety of different taste experiences from the same ingredients. The Fastronomy cooker uses hot air and steam to replace frying on a pan, cooking in an oven and even boiling in a pot. The food is hung on sticks to optimise airflow and minimise cleaning. When the cooking is done, the double walled cooking glasses can be taken out and cleaned in the dishwasher.