OpenKitchen was an interdisciplinary research project conducted in collaboration between Royal College of Arts and University of Nottingham (EP/K014234/2). The project was led by Professor Sharon Baurley in Royal College of Arts.

We prototyped and piloted a service that resembles Hackspaces which is widely known in the DIY and makers community. Hackspace (or FabLab, Makespace) is a place where anybody can come with their own ideas to make something and allows people to craft, tinker, and build anything they want. It is open to the public and run by the membership.

Vision of OpenKitchen

In OpenKitchen, we were planning to apply the similar concept of the Hackspace in the cooking context. Moreover, we envisioned beyond the service design of the public kitchen space and investigated how the experience of cooking and food can be shared within the community; how can individual’s tacit knowledge in cooking be collected and presented back to the other users in the kitchen. Thus, during summer 2017, we ran a pilot study in a kitchen space in London for three days. The kitchen where we ran the study is located in the Borough Market at London.

Kitchen located in the Borough Market

We installed cameras on every corner of the kitchen space, prepared basic food ingredients and kitchen utensils. Main ingredients will be vary depending on their own recipes that they had in mind. So we offered £10 to each participant to purchase them from the market. We attached gyro sensors to 4 kitchen utensils of 2 sets. We were aiming to see movement (speed and direction) of the utensils while people cooking and explore the representation method of the tacit knowledge.

We collected photo images, video and audio recordings, and utensil movement data.

Key findings from the pilot study.

  • Routinely feature of cooking underpins the creative and innovative cooking process.
  • The process of being innovative and creative in and outside the kitchen emerge with social methods (e.g. conversation and negotiation).
  • Recipes are often implicit and embodied in the act of using tools and handling ingredients.

These findings informed the design of our Self-Authoring Tools, which employed in the study, to capture key elements in cooking process through the user’s own decision in constructing a recipe. Also, it will be useful to explore further ideas in how information may be provided to users with regard to the existing plans that are creatively formulated prior to and during cooking.

OpenKitchen Study – Design and Probe Self-Authoring Tools

We conducted four days of field trial during the last week of June 2018. Each day, we ran 2 study sessions, the first session started at noon. Each session was last in 4 hours, 2 hours of study and 2 hours of cleaning up and organising. The study procedure is detailed in the table below.

Once participants agreed to take part, we sent a welcome pack via email. The welcome pack consists of; pre-interview questions, 5 noodle recipes, information leaflet, and a worksheet for the participant to scribble their recipe. The pre-interview was to grasp participants’ cooking habits, experience with recipe collection and creation. A set of recipes found in the internet had been redesigned as a card with a photo and simplified cooking steps. It was offered as an inspiration source for a noodle dish. But they had been instructed that they can bring their own ideas or other recipe found elsewhere, if they wish. This method underpins the design approach of our OpenKitchen recipe repository, which is to presents a provenance of recipe trajectories.

Study procedureTimeMain activities
1. Sign-up and Pre-study interviewEmailOnce signed up with a ‘friend’, we sent out a welcome pack email that contains: information sheet, consent form, noodle recipe cards, a leaflet, a worksheet, and a pre-study interview questionnaire.

2. Arrive, Shopping and Induction
30 mins– Give out a consent form to sign.
– We offer £15 budget to each participant and they buy ingredients at the local market.
– Health and Safety induction.
– Explain cooking and recording station and the recipe authoring app.
3. Prepare and Cook45 mins– Prepare ingredients and start cooking.
4. Recipe Card Design and Tasting30 mins– Participants skim through video clips they’ve recorded and create digital recipe card. (This was done whilst the participants eating food.)
5. Exit Interview30 minsReflection;
– Cooking in the kitchen with Self-Authoring Tool.
– Using the recipe design app.
– Motivations for using ‘Open Kitchen’ in the future.
Study Procedure
Schematic of Self-Authoring Tools

Findings from the study projected design implications in multiple outlets.

  • Recipes for Autonomous Cooking
  • Recipe of Actions in Social Cooking
  • Crowdsourcing Tacit Knowledge
  • Multi-sensory Cooking Assistant