DESIGN: Match Cooking Prep System for People with Autism
by Raymond Herrera
The Match Cooking Prep System for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) offers adults with autism an opportunity for some independence in the kitchen. Designer Amanda Savitzky came up with the design for her thesis project in industrial design at Syracuse University. But aside from the idea being an academic exercise, Amanda created a functioning product that won her the $10,000 top prize in the 2013 Metropolis Next Generation Competition, whose mission it was this year was to have designers create solutions for people with special needs. But the biggest reward could’ve been creating a working set of tools for her brother, who was diagnosed with the disease at a very young age and is now 20 years old, so he can make basic meals using the cooking set, an app for iPad, and an appetite.
Amanda followed the competition guidelines specifically by choosing her brother as inspiration, as Metropolis Magazine asked the competitors to design with someone in their own life in mind. She was inspired by her family’s love for cooking and her brother Steven’s exclusion from the activity. Amanda then studied the things that would trip her brother such as measurements and stacking measuring cups, actions that are normal to you and me but are hard and sometimes impossible to process for people with ASD. She also studied how areas organized with spatial sequencing—where everything moves from left to right—helps autistic people perform tasks better, which brought her to the traditional French way to organize a kitchen, mise en place. “That’s a French culinary tradition used by some of the world’s best chefs to organize all of the ingredients first and then cook,” she tells Metropolis Magazine. “I knew that this technique would be awesome for someone with autism.”
The system includes four measuring cups with easy-to-grip handles in four different shapes and colors which coordinate with commonly used units:
red pentagon = one cup
yellow square = half a cup
green triangle = a third of a cup
and blue circle = a quarter cup
The cups are magnetized along with a board they sit on that has the corresponding shapes indented into it. In addition the the color and shape coded measuring units, a Match iPad app gives caregivers the opportunity to help the user follow recipes via an interactive slide show. Cooking for the person with ASD becomes a game.
Aside from being functional for people affected with the disability, and also possibly useful for people with ADHD and Down Syndrome and possibly Alzheimer’s, the The Match Cooking Prep System caught my eye with it’s retro color scheme and minimalistic design. Form truly becoming function while serving the greater good. Your move Alessi! We look forward to Amanda Savitzky’s future product designs and research.
You can find out more about the project and Amanda’s work here.
All photos by Metropolis Magazine