For people who work in an office environment, lunch is a very big deal. It can be the one positive thing to look forward to in their day, or the chance to enjoy a favorite food, or a reason for a much-needed break. But the cubicle crowd are generally stuck with limited lunch options, of which we heard many during our initial research into the category. The communal kitchen microwave is generally in high-demand around lunch time with frequent wait-times, or it is widely seen as an infrequently-cleaned bacteria haven into which they’re putting their leftover enchiladas. Or someone from IT just nuked some kind of curried fish dish, and it stinks to high heaven. Similarly, going to local eateries on a daily basis is very costly, and generally not as healthy as a home-prepared meal. Not at all an easy decision for those who have to grapple with their limited options, day in and day out for months on end.What Crock Pot brings to the table is a perfect solution for this clear market need. A small, portable, easily cleanable way to enjoy hot soups, stews, and leftovers from home right at your desk. We’ve become avid fans at AWOL Company, happily tending to our warm little Lunch Crocks with a quick stir in anticipation of lunchtime.
Our design process centered around key design activities. First, we put the original unit through its paces by cooking all manner of food types (and of course eating them). We then conceptualized possibilities for new/innovative features, dimensions, and product configurations, shown as rough 2D sketches and quick mockups. With these ideas as a basis, our next phase explored several aesthetic variants that both aligned with the Crock-Pot brand as well as the aspirations of the target market. In subsequent phases, the chosen concept was refined in CAD through several iterations, also generating 3D prototype models and high-fidelity renderings.
The new design is larger, and able to hold more food in its bowl-like tapered form. The integrated handle easily folds upward for easy carrying, while the corded base can be removed for increased portability. Our team also refined the inner lid with a large pull-tab and pressure-release valve, to make sure the lid safely seals foods inside while being easily removed by the user. All-in-all, a series of features that enhance the user experience for this already well-received product.
Team members: Andy Logan, Tim Swiss, Amy Gina Kim
Photography: Darren Yasukochi