culture . identity . cuisine
Project Overview .
Capsule is a subscription box service that leverages the user’s cultural background, interests, and experiences to deliver value in the form of fostering their sense of cultural connection and encouraging self affirmation through the sending and receiving of recipes, goodies, and holiday items between users on the platform.
This project has explored themes of heritage, self identity, cultural connection and the significance of food and place.
Time Frame: September to December 2022
Project Team Members : Rachel Baker, Will Gelder, Iris Sun, Abhishek Patil
My Involvement : UX UI Design, Usability Testing, Survey Design, Data Analysis, Ideation Drawings.
Tools : Figma, Procreate, Adobe Creative Suite, Qualtrics, Tableau, Miro
Problem Space .
American-born descendants and immigrants have complex cultural identities influenced by both their heritage and surroundings, leading to some embracing their mixed identity while others feel like they don't fit in any established culture. This often causes them to feel disconnected from the heritage and culture of their families.
Target Population .
Cultural nomads with fractured cultural identities, who lack a sense of belonging in any established culture.
Young adults who are at the age of 18 to 35 years old and have multifaceted cultural identities.
Project Goal .
Help individuals with mixed cultural backgrounds establish a connection with their rooted heritage.
Support them to embrace their multifaceted cultural identity and unique representation of themselves.
We were looking for answers to the following main questions:
01. How do people connect to culture?
02. What factors shape cultural identity?
03. How do cultural nomads relate food to culture and self-identity?
40 surveys assess the prevalence of cultural disconnect, and understand how strongly culture nomad’s view food as it relates to their cultural identities.
3 semi-structured interviews to learn participants' cultural background, connection to heritage, and self identity.
Research Findings .
Many people in our survey and interviews expressed a strong desire to connect more deeply with their cultures and are concerned about cultural disconnection.
Culture is shaped by more than just ethno-cultural background. Our research has shown that cultural identity can also be influenced by factors such as food, friends, and places lived, in addition to ethnicity, race, and nationality.
Food plays a vital role in cultural connections, as traditional foods are closely tied to family, celebrations, and the feeling of being at home. Furthermore, our findings suggest that fusion cuisine tends to reflect an individual's multicultural background.
Data Samples .
86% of participants selected food as a factor that shaped their cultural identity.
“I think my parents did a good job sharing what was important within our culture, but they didn't necessarily share everything.” - Interview participant
94% of our participants are interested in being more connected.
How might we help culture norms find their unique identity and reconnect with their culture while avoiding culture appropriation and commodification?
Design Requirements .
01. Facilitate cultural exchange between individuals.
02. Preserve the stories and context of personal fusion foods and family-tradition foods.
03. Accurately represent the user’s identity, along all dimensions.
04. Guard against the commodification of ethnicity and culture.
Design Exploration .
We developed our designs based on requirements and held multiple rounds of Crazy8s, iteratively refining each other's sketches to produce the following concepts.
Learning Buddy .
Children of multicultural backgrounds can learn about their cultures through the use of a stuffed animal and an app in this concept.
Fusion Cookbook .
Fusion Cookbook takes in a person’s unique mix of cultures and returns a cookbook of fusion food recipes based on the user's multicultural identity.
Memoiry is a storytelling activity for parents and children to do together, aiming to enable families to share and discuss their history and provide a relatable storybook to multicultural children who may not see themselves represented in typical children’s books.
Users digitally collect important artifacts, such as photos, videos, letters, recipes, and songs, to represent precious memories that are core to a specific moment in their lives, such as important moves or life transitions.
Users would receive different themes of the box each month to learn about the culture through recipes, goodies, and holidays.
Recommendations App .
Recommendation App is a tool that allows users to document their unique multicultural mix as well as make recommendations for music, food, news, art, etc.
This concept uses the time capsule metaphor, where users can digitally collect significant artifacts such as photos, videos, letters, recipes, and songs to preserve precious memories of specific moments in their lives.
Boxtie offers various box themes, such as a goodie box featuring items from one's cultural heritage, a recipe box teaching traditional or fusion cuisine, or a newsbox with trendy cultural items. It fosters connections between individuals with shared cultural backgrounds, allowing them to exchange boxes and learn about each other's culture during special times of the year.
It always take several steps to get it right .
We received valuable feedback at Georgia Tech's GVU showcase for our two presented concepts. People with diverse cultural backgrounds suggested focusing on holiday and festival themes for the boxes, had questions about the service's pricing, and appreciated how it could alleviate the difficulty of finding specific ingredients. They also expressed interest in being able to share their own fusion food and requested the option to name recipes after themselves for a more personal touch.
After further team discussion, we decided to integrate Capsule's reflective nature and privacy features into Boxtie. Ultimately, we concluded that "Capsule" better reflected our box concept, so we renamed it accordingly.
Final Design Overview .
Signing Up for Capsule
When a user first downloads Capsule, they are met with a series of introductory slides which explain what Capsule is and three core steps: creating a cultural profile, exchanging boxes with others, and experiencing culture through the foods and stories that Capsule presents.
Creating a Box for Another User and Receiving a Box
Capsule offers a Box Exchange Event, where you can choose a theme to exchange with other users. Users are paired up with other individuals who have cultural overlap but haven't interacted before.
Sharing Your Personal Fusion Recipe & Its Story on The Platform
User’s recipes are expressions of their unique cultural identity and experience. Through Capsule, users can share their own fusion recipe and stories related to the food and promote/elevate personal fusion foods as authentic expressions of culture.
Creating a Diary Entry About Your Received Box
The diary function in Capsule allows users to document their box experiences and thoughts. The app aims to inspire users to reflect on their cultural identities, re-engage with different cultures, and examine how their Capsule experiences have impacted them.
Design is iterative -
When we were designing our platform, we had a tough time figuring out what we wanted to include, especially since our project was about some pretty abstract concepts like emotions and culture. We went through a lot of trial and error trying to come up with ways to present our ideas. But I learned that it's okay to not get things perfect on the first try. Being open to feedback and new ideas from others can really make a big difference in making the design even better!
Collaboration is key -
As I reflect on this project, I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds. Our team dynamic was excellent, and we were all receptive to each other's ideas and opinions. Collaborating with them allowed me to see how people with different backgrounds can approach design and research in distinct ways. It was eye-opening to witness the unique perspectives that each team member brought to the table.
© 2023 by Iris, Jhih Rou Sun