In the past ten weeks, we have had the wonderful opportunity to get acquainted with the warmth and the values the Moroccans live by. Moroccan culture is one that differs endlessly with the cultures we’re used to in the Western world, and getting to know it has been a treat. It was also a crucial experience for the Fortune Cooker Project.
THE FORTUNE COOKER PROJECT
“To adapt an environmentally clean cooking device to the wishes and values of the customer, with the ultimate goal to reduce CO2-emission and deforestation by cooking on woodfire.”
During our stay in Morocco, we have been working on a project surrounding the usability and desirability of the Fortune Cooker. The Fortune Cooker is a product designed to offer a solution to people cooking on wood, as cooking on wood puts a strain on the health of the person cooking through to toxic gases, and strains the environment with deforestation. At the start of this project, the Fortune Cooker was still in the early design phases, merely a prototype. The technical idea was there: a hybrid cooking device, combining a powerful heat source such as gas or wood with the warmth of the sun. The powerful heat source as the initial heat generator, the sun and an insulated box as warmth retainers. One part of the Fortune Cooker, the wood gas stove, was thoroughly designed and tested, and was working quite perfectly. The other part, the insulated box, still had to be thought through, tested and detailed.
The Fortune Cooker is a product that, for the people that are going to use it, has to change the way they cook drastically, as the Fortune Cooker is a product very different from normal cooking appliances. This would be quite a big step for a Dutch user, but for Moroccan people the step is even more substantial, as food is a very important aspect of Moroccan culture. Therefore, we made a plan to study the culture and its cooking habits, in order to make the step as small and intuitive as possible. For a product like the Fortune Cooker, technical aspects and user aspects can only be distinguished from each other by a feebly thin line. Findings and adjustments on usability can have a direct impact on the technical functionality of the product. Furthermore, the degree the which the product technically functions, affects the user’s need for the product. For example, if the user would only want to use the Fortune Cooker if it can be used with a pressure pan, the prototype’s technical properties have to be a whole lot different from a prototype that only has to be used with a normal pan. Even if the user would merely want to use different sizes of pans, this could have a direct effect on the technical properties as well. Therefore, it is hard to define the technical properties before the usability demands are fully specified.
Based on the above, our project plan contained the following activities: to further analyse local culture, to test the user experience of the product, to test the technical aspects of the product, to iterate the product, to research implementation of the product into the market, and to create local awareness on the risks of cooking on wood. Not all of these actions have gone as we had hoped, whilst others did follow the desired turn of events. Our actions during our stay in Morocco are described in this report, as well as the problems we encountered, and the solutions to these problems.
In this report you will find a detailed report of events, research and findings. First, we will go through the problems encountered during this project, and how we’ve tried to solve them. Then, we will describe the culture as we have experienced it, and how this affects the project and the Fortune Cooker. Next, we will describe how the Fortune Cooker was built, how we did our tests and the conclusions we’ve drawn from all this. After reading all this, you will have a broad and well-informed view of the Fortune Cooker, and our project.
Have fun reading!