We delved into the culture of family dinner in Hong Kong to design a service that makes fast, healthy food from mom’s recipes.
Famili is a service system built around family dinners. It lets families share meals—not just recipes—through the Internet. The concept is the product of an assignment to research and build a new line of business for a fictional mid-sized rice company, Da Mi. With it, meal senders input their own family recipes online. Famili then compiles and delivers custom ready-to-cook ingredient kits. Recipients cook up the pre-prepped ingredients into a fresh meal.
Our goal was to understand how people eat today, so we could position Da Mi at the center of their meals. We expected contemporary families to be disconnected from the culture of rice and of eating. And that this disconnect is driven by lack of time and knowledge.
We structured our research around learning the mechanics and meaning of family dinners and finding rice’s role there. We designed a cultural probe package, which went to seven families with children in Hong Kong. In them, respondents gathered information about their eating habits, and the stories they connect with family dinner.
Service design and design research
Flame Wang, and Nick Wang
Hong Kong Polytechnic University
From here, we chose two extreme users to interview more intensively: one family, who dedicates two hours to family dinner every night, and another that spends 15 minutes if they are able to dedicate time at all. We conducted interviews in the respondents’ homes where we were able to observe a typical family dinner. We brought cards displaying tools, ingredients, types of rice, different dishes and feelings to instigate stories during the interviews.
Families come first, no matter the context.
Our research yielded two profiles. They share the common goal to keep their families happy and well-nourished. Margaret shows her dedication with time, and energy in the cooking process, she wants to actively shape her children’s preferences and eating culture. Judith cares for her family by accommodating their needs and wishes in the food she prepares. She has little time, and tries to make the most of it.
We found that family dinners today share four qualities:
- Desire for diversity
Both respondents try to make diverse types of food, but struggle to do so consistently.
- Family-first decision making
Both women are extremely family driven. They are both interested in their kid’s health, and want to help them build a healthy relationship to food.
- Small doses of culture
While both families are interested in the culture surrounding rice, they wouldn’t take time or make extra effort to incorporate it into their lives.
- Casual mealtimes
Both families have a casual atmosphere at their family dinners
Easy food can also be meaningful food.
We developed Famili out of these insights, as a way to make quick dinners without omitting a family’s food culture. Customers can send their own meals to others, or order for themselves from the recipe database. We imagine moms sending meals to their grown children, neighbors sending meals to new parents, friends sending meals to the sick, and followers buying meal kits from their favorite food bloggers.
Mom goes online
Mom goes online to input the ingredients and step-by-step instructions for her family recipe. Then she orders a four-person meal for her son.
We prep her recipe
Using mom’s recipe, Famili slices, dices andmarinates to make a ready-to-cook meal kit. Then we coordinate a delivery time and place with her son.
Son cooks at home
Reading mom’s instructions from the app, the son cooks up his family’s recipe. He gets convenient and quick dinner that’s fresh, familiar and home made.
Recipe creator: Provides information about ingredients, details about preparation, and cooking process. Can also send, and pay for order.
Recipe receiver: Orders and pays for food, or receives gifted food. Prepares ingredients in own home, using own tools.
Famili: Provides internet platform (standardizes recipes), prepares ingredients, delivers the ingredients to recipients, and sells kitchen tools.
Header photo by Shashinjutsu