DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
NC : Kids can be suspicious of new foods & often categorize them as 'yuck' even before trying. As a result, many foods remain unexplored and mealtimes can turn unpleasant or foster negative relationships with food. Kids use curiosity & play to explore the world so why not use it to explore the food world? By bringing play to the table, I wanted to inspire curiosity, reinvent how families eat & encourages playful exploration beyond the game.
DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
NC : By bringing the endless benefits of play to the table, I wanted to inspire children and the inner child in every adult to be brave and inquisitvie to possibly be rewarded with a surprising discovery.
DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
NC : To make it accessible to as many schools and families as possible.
DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
NC : Five years. The project started in 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden and finished in 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia.
DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
NC : Curious Gastronaut is a culmination of my passion for food and play & my specialisation in Children's Design. It started out as a thesis project in design school and turned into a passion project.
DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
NC : Using the power of play, I wanted to create excitement around food, encourage children and adults alike to step out of their comfort zone, and inspire them to be explorers of the world. I wanted to create a tool that children could use to create something of their own and be proud of.
DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
NC : The recommended age is 5 years and above. However, it is for all children and the inner child in all of us. It has been thoughtfully designed to maintain open-endedness and inclusivity.
DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
NC : Firstly, it encourages players to reimagine food & experiment from ground up rather than from existing recipes. Secondly, it's open-endedness allows for multi use, endless interpretations & high playability. Thirdly, it was designed to encourage play and exploration in everyday life, even beyond the game. Rather than creating something with the purpose of selling or to keep children occupied, it was important for me to create something with a high play value.
DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
NC : I liked the idea of exploring the gastronomical world like an astronaut explores space - with curiosity, excitement and an open mind. Hence, the name Curious Gastronaut.
DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
NC : Adobe Illustrator, Indesign & low-tech prototyping
DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
NC : It infuses play with dining in a natural way without becoming a distraction. The prompts on the cards are whimsical & humorous, the visuals - gender neutral & simplistic but not childish, with the intention to stimulate the imagination and trigger joy & curiosity. It's open-endedness allows for multi use, endless interpretations & high playability.
DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
NC : Although the project was solely designed by me, I met several play designers, pedagogists, educators, psychologists, parents and children, throughout the duration of the project without whom the project would not have been possible.
DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
NC : I used exploratory research. My methodologies included surveys & secondary source research. Data collected informed research tools, namely participatory experiments (observed workshops & self-reported trials).
DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
NC : The project was solely designed by me. However, it required all-round skills in design, illustration, writing and knowledge in play, child culture, food education, etc which I was able to build & improve through research & playtesting. Inspiring ongoing exploration while also motivating busy adults to play were additional challenges, which I overcame by introducing features like unlocking and journey maps, and by simplifying the gameplay into short, simple sessions. It took several iterations to make sure the players go from picking up the game to playing as soon as possible. Eco-friendly printing & manufacturing are goals I am currently working towards.
DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
NC : I was very passionate about the idea and saw how greatly it impacted so many families. Through the competition, I was hoping to achieve visibility so many more can benefit from it.
DI: Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
NC : https://curiousgastronaut.com/