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Design Thesis Project

I am currently working on a two semester long thesis project for my Industrial Design degree.

For my thesis project I want to create a travel set of containers for tea and food that fulfills practical needs without sacrificing emotional desires.

There is a lack of objects for eating and drinking that effectively combine practicality with a rich emotional narrative.There is a community of women, the Lolita community, who particularly value emotional narratives in the objects they use. These women find their needs are not met by the objects they use for eating and drinking at social gatherings because they are either practical with no emotional narrative, or have a rich narrative but are impractical.

Right now I am focusing on containers for food. I'll be addressing containers for carrying tea and liquids next semester.

When bringing food to picnics and meetups we usually end up using cheap plastic containers. They are not attractive, but they are functional and easy to transport and it's not a big deal if you lose them. I want to create an alternative that is more beautiful and fits into the context of a Lolita meetup.

The main material I have been researching is paper. Paper pulp can be cast in a mold and can be made waterproof with the addition of resins and waxes. It has a much more attractive texture and feel than plastics, but like plastics it is light and cheap to produce. Paper pulp is the basis of many biodegradable and sustainable products.

The main quality that makes plastic superior to paper for carrying food is that it can be washed and used again. I will attempt to mitigate this factor through paper liners and such, but paper containers will essentially be single-use if used for anything wetter or messier than cookies.

My question for you is: would you be interested in using containers that are temporary and disposable to bring food like cookies or cupcakes to a picnic or meetup if they were beautiful?
If not, what would you prefer?

Project Blog:
This blog includes my research and updates about my project.

Image Research:
My Tumblr mostly includes pictures of existing products, modern and historical, related to my project.

If anyone has any thoughts on the project I would love to hear them. :)


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 29th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)
I prefer non-disposable glass containers :3 I don't like plastic, and most picnic places don't have recycling. Plus the food juices usually makes paper containers go in the trash anyway :(

Pretty containers would be lovely though!
Nov. 29th, 2010 05:40 am (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughts!
That is the problem with paper, yeah.
Do you prefer glass even for larger amounts of things, like carrying cupcakes for a bigger group?
Nov. 29th, 2010 05:50 am (UTC)
I have not been on many picnics, so I am not sure... at the last lolita picnic I went to I brought salmon ^^; And the container was fine. Very big containers I suppose would get heavy, though...

What about lightweight aluminum? I am thinking of baking dishes made of aluminum. They are always ugly, but if it were a container instead of a baking dish, it could be decorated :)
Nov. 29th, 2010 05:54 am (UTC)
I often use biscuit tins, which are light and cheap like plastic, but can have very nice printed decorations when they aren't Christmas themed. :)
I have been exploring the idea of re purposing tins from thrift stores, changing them to make them more attractive somehow. Unlike paper containers they can be washed.
Nov. 29th, 2010 06:25 am (UTC)
yes, cookie tins! We used to use the cookie tins as craft containers!
Nov. 29th, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)
Throwing a beautiful thing into a trash bin is not beautiful--I would consider the status quo much more desirable as disposable goods specifically because they are not beautiful and do not have an emotional narrative. Have you considered ways to make your paper pulp vessels sturdy enough for multiple uses, rather than ritzy compost?
Nov. 29th, 2010 05:35 am (UTC)
Thanks for your feedback. :)
It certainly makes sense that you would rather not have to throw away something that is beautiful.
I was definitely planning to make the vessels sturdy enough for multiple uses, but no matter how strong the paper pulp is it couldn't be washed with water if it got dirty.
I'll have to think about a different direction to take the project.
Nov. 30th, 2010 01:07 am (UTC)
For me I bring my picnic basket with glass and reusable plates. The environment is important for me and though biodegradable things are wonder, I rather just reuse something. If I were to bring food for lots of people I would bring it into a plastic container.

I think maybe the people that are here and wanted more of narrative to their items as you say end up buying something they can reuse. This can be because they cannot find something that can fit what they are looking for in disposable or want the plate or whatever to have its own story. Example: This is the cup set I take with me to all my picnic and just looking at them reminds me of lovely picnics.

Also.. I can’t help but think if someone really wanted a disposable paper plate that was really pretty they could easily find some already. I know that there is a gift store in my town that sells brand paper plates that are very nice. Also a quick search on the internet and I found lots plates that would look nice and in several designs.

After thinking….I now want my plastic ware to look pretty! They’re just clear with blue lids.
Nov. 30th, 2010 07:24 pm (UTC)
What an interesting project! If I was going to a social occasion, such as a lolita meet up, or taking baked goods etc to a "pot luck" I would love to be able to take something more presentable than the usual ziplock that's not very pretty, and i always feel a little "off" when I turn up with a lovely cake or batch of macarons in something unattractive. It's kinda like when people show up early to my house and I'm not properly dressed.

Disposable is cool for an every once in a while kind of thing, but it would be nice to have something re-useable. That way I wouldn't mind spending a little more, and it wouldn't feel as overly frivolous if it felt like something of an investment.

I don't know if there are perhaps some sort of plastic that would still work?

Either way, really interesting project and it sounds a lot like something i would be interested in!

(also I would imagine it's not something limited to lolita, i would imagine quaintrelle would be interested as well as a whole host of other people if you wanted to make a stronger argument since lolita is a super small niche)
Dec. 2nd, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
I use cookie tins for nearly everything. I would want to actually look into something other than plastic, because it tends to stain on occasion (depending on the juice, sauce, jam).

Glass would be nice. Fortunately I live in a place where there is regular recycling receptacles and daily pickup everywhere. (It's pretty much mandatory in Toronto)

For a once in a while catering event I could see pretty designed disposable containers being used once in a while for an outdoor picnic event.

I'm mostly intrigued by anything pretty enough to carry liquids! This part is where I find the most pain. There are some nice thermos and soup containers in Asian stores here, but they are rare and seasonal.
Dec. 2nd, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)

That sounds like a very interesting project. historical 'Necessaires" that included food & beverage fixers/servers have intrigued me for a long time, as well as some of the nice officers portable toiletry/canteen (not just a water container, but had utensils, etc) kits.
I probably wouldn't use a disposable picnic kit, even a nice one; but my husband probably would. I like the Edwardian style picnic chest that we have.

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )