TurboChef is an innovative appliance manufacturer that focuses on the rapid cooking of food. They came to frog design with a new Speed Cooking technology that had been proven in the commercial and restaurant world, and sought a vision for how it would be applied in the consumer market. I led a team of researchers, designers, and engineers who helped create this new vision, as well as help bring it into production.
We began with a research phase that took the team on a deep dive into the minds of residential chefs. We went into several homes of target users, from “foodies” who aspire to professional chef status, to “showies” who never actually use their appliances yet want to own the best as status symbols, to our target market: “wannabe’s” who simply aspire to put the best food in front of their families, as efficiently as possible, on a regular basis and with great results. We also dissected the competitive landscape, and found it seriously lacking in any kind of the emotions typically associated with food and cooking. One troubling observation: the “sea of sameness” that customers observe when seeing competitive ovens lined up in a retail environment. Giant stainless steel rectangular slabs: always fun to take the creative sledgehammer to.
Our team even sat in on Repaille sessions to tease out people’s innermost associations with ovens. The message was clear: the kitchen was the heart of the home, and the oven was the heart of the kitchen. Not a cold piece of technology: the heart.
In our design exploration phases, we sought to inject some soul back into ovens through sketch and physical mockups. Using automotive-style stamping brought sinuous curves back into the surface. Bright accent colors were inspired by enamel-coated cast cookware. And above all: the classic hearth-shape, baked into our DNA as an icon of warmth and food, creates the classic oven door shape.
We then built a round of CAD models and physical models for testing with users, who also could explore the innovative digital menu structure. Any revisions were made in our final engineering CAD database, and transitioned into production. The TurboChef Double Wall Oven released in 2007 to great acclaim in the culinary and home décor industries.
Team: Andy Logan, Cormac Eubanks, Pilar Strutin-Belinoff