Communication Design Studio II: Project 3


Many people continually make formal or informal resolutions to improve aspects of their lives. Although the goals may be set by an individual relative to his or her specific situation, many of the intentions actually apply to a larger body of people. This is like the case for the resolutions you proposed at the start of the term… Your goal is to design a system of three pieces that inform and engage your audience, moving them to action.


Cooking and Eating Healthy


Christie Chong and Carolyn Zhou

Initial Thoughts:

I’m excited for this project, because the topic is broad enough for us to explore a lot of options and is relevant to us personally. Food itself is also just a fun topic. For me, my days revolve around meals, and I make sure not to skip any. I know that food is a necessity, but I love that it can be so much more than just a means to survive. Eating/cooking can be a social activity; I grew up in a Chinese culture in which social life centered around the table. Food and conversation almost always went hand in hand. Cooking allowed for people to teach each other skills and work together towards a common goal. Eating/cooking therefore can also be strongly tied to memories. There has been many a time that the food I’ve eaten has reminded me of something my mom has made or of a certain experience. Cooking is also an form of art, an expression of self and demonstration of skills. I’m amazed by what people can do with ingredients to create great flavors and textures. Food is just great. The hard part is trying to eat/cook healthily…

I’ve never really been a person who has watched what I eat, but since coming to college, I definitely have noticed that I can no longer afford to eat whatever/however much I want. One of my resolutions this year was to be more aware of the food I eat and make and make healthy decisions. I’ve had a few stretches of keeping a food diary, but it always quickly became a chore that was just annoying to do or was guilt inducing. Sometimes, when I’m especially motivated, I’ll eat a lot of salad or vegetables, but when given the choice between healthy food and wonderfully delicious fattier foods, the vegetables always lose. It’s hard to have self control.

I think it’s been especially hard to eat and cook healthily since coming to college. Freshmen year, there weren’t too many good healthy options on campus, and it seemed that portions were always humongous. As someone who was taught to always finish what was on my place, I probably ate a bit more than I needed. Living off campus the next year allowed me to cook for myself. That was nice because I could see what ingredients were going in to what I was making, and I could make better decisions. However, I’m an especially busy person, so I rarely had time to cook. Really fast/easy to make foods are rarely that healthy. This year I’ve struggled with that a lot. I would love to cook more, but I don’t have the time. I’m eating on campus a lot more than I would like, which hurts both my health and my wallet.

I’m excited to design for this area. It is super relevant for me and many college students at CMU. I hope that we can create an exciting and engaging piece that can motivate us to cook and eat healthier.

Initial Brainstorming and Research:

Existing Campus Resources:

  • campus nutritionists
  • CMU nutrition calculator app
  • Food icon program to help diners make healthful eating choices.
  • resources at CMU’s Healthy Living page
  • the “Tartan Nutrition Tips: How to have a Dynamite Diet” presentation, given by Peer Health Advocates
  • mini courses offered by Health Services (e.g. Personal Nutrition, Health and Wellness Across the Spectrum and Managing Stress, Restoring Harmony)
  • the nutrition page on the Health services site. (e.g. Healthy Eating Guide, Foods for Health, Eating Concerns)


  • dining halls
  • dorms


Wall Diagramming

In class last week, we did “speed dating” and asked questions of people from each group. Some of the questions I asked were:

  • How do you define eating healthy?
  • Do you eat healthy?
  • Do you cook? What allows you to do/not do so?
  • What would motivate you to cook more or eat more healthily?
  • What was it like being on the meal plan last year?


In Class Brainstorming

Who is your audience? general college students (might narrow down)

What are you trying to communicate and why? Cooking and eating healthy can be simple and fun. There are many perceived deterrents from doing so, such as lack of time, experience, and appeal. We want to lower the intimidation.

What medium are you using? ideas? contexts?

  • food art
  • recipe blog
  • video
  • workshop, cook something different each week?
  • poster
  • pop-up shop
  • samples

Mark Making!

adjectives: fun, happy, energetic, friendly


Brainstorming Ideas/Brain barf

  • We could have an event where students teach other students how to cook. It could be a social activity.
  • a game for making healthy choices?
  • have an event where people learn to cook/cook together and make a personalized time-lapse video for each participant as a kind of video recipe for future reference
  • emphasize recipes that are quick to make (under 30min), are only a few ingredients, taste good, are cheap
  • crowd sourced recipe website. teach skills that can be applied for any recipe, learn the basics. filter by time, ingredients, place to buy ingredients?
  • trust you tastebuds!
  • teaching students how to make healthy no/low cook meals
  • let’s make it social! That seems to motivate people best ***
  • meal swap
  • weekly cook together, people rotate roles

Catch, Action, Validation

Catch: Short phrase/question/statement that anchors your system

  • ready, set, cook! ***
  • healthy and happy :)
  • cook on!
  • student by day, chef by night!
  • anyone can cook!
  • cooking with friends!
  • together we can, together we cook!

Action: What do you want people to do? How might you incite action?

  • We want people to be proactive and self-sufficient about gathering healthy ingredients and creating a balanced blend of a meal out of them. We want them to overcome their fear of cooking and also laziness by showing that cooking is simple and beneficial to health and wellness.
  • We aim to lower the intimidation level that the task of cooking presents, by simplifying the task and also communicating that it’s ok to not yet know basic cooking techniques — that’s what we’re here for.
  • “Anyone can cook!”

Validation: How might you communicate legitimacy?

  • provide nutritional information


In Class

Our idea: (From Christie’s post)

“Cook with Friends! Program

A group of friends join this program together. For each day of the program, one person is in charge of cooking/bringing a home cooked meal for the others. Amass their recipes as the program goes on. Booklet that explains program, examples of recipes, cooking tips? Different challenges for each person or each round that can play in to cooking more healthy. (For example, meal has to have at least 3 colors) End goal of the program that it becomes so natural for these group of friends to cook for each other and for themselves that they don’t need to follow a program, wean them off somehow. Maybe once per round there could be a communal cooking session, potluck?, or like an iron chef cook off between groups. Something fun that requires them to be together in that cooking environment. Program should be flexible in frequency and context of meals.”

PRINT: Introduce concept, lead to website

DIGITAL: Website, tool for facilitating meal sharing


We’ll have a kit! Inside could be:

  • an apron
  • tupperware
  • instructions?


Stacie: How do we get the audience to interact with the piece? We should “plant a seed” and let things take shape as people use it. Narrow down focus. Work on and think about “catch, action, validation”. Think about the difference between a statement and question in how both are received.

Andrew: How can you make it more interactive? How can it be more social? Maybe people could cook in pairs or exchange roles. How do you make it more enjoyable? Spread out the labor of cooking. Look at existing products/ideas and critically consider the need for our product. How can you make things your own? How can you more specifically incorporate health into the program. People could share what other meals they eat outside of the meal share for added accountability.

Robin: Find the thing that makes it interesting. What’s the incentive? It’d be good to have some other outcome from meal sharing other than the food, such as a recipe book at the end. Could you “gameify” it? Add challenges? Maybe it can be like Chopped (the tv show), where there’s a featured ingredient that people have to use when cooking for each other.

Similar existing products/ideas:


Another Idea Brainstorm

CATCH: Cook with friends | Together we can, together we cook! | Can we cook it? Yes we can! | Are you Hungry? | Who wants food? | Let’s Cook! | Cook well, eat well | Life tastes better together | Let’s Eat!

ACTION: Let’s build a community that cooks and eats well together. | This is a judgement free kitchen. |

VALIDATION: Research shows that motivation is influenced by social interactions.

PRINT: Poster, instructions

DIGITAL: Website! Tool for facilitating this program. People can form teams

PHYSICAL: Pop up shop? Display


Visual Inspiration:

Our Colors:

Playing with different color combinations. I had these chips from Color and Communication with Mentzer last semester. It was helpful to be able to rearrange colors and play with different combinations.


From Danae: What happens when the program ends? How do you form and keep a habit. Think about your audience. How do you, say, appeal to guys as well as girls? Maybe have different programs?

From Stacie: Put yourself in the audience; you’re designing for yourself too. GOALS GOALS GOALS GOALS. Start with goals and let that inform the form (Why do I always struggle with this…..).

From Andrew: Leverage the social aspect from the start. Where do I find my audience? Have high exposure. What’s out of the ordinary that is going to catch their attention? What’s a low barrier to get people to interact? What/how are people primed to receive something? What’s an opportunity for intervention? Think about what’s unexpected/expected. Think about a system of actions. How do you deliver things of value?


  • Drive to start cooking
  • Jump start to get them to form groups, commit to plan, and cook (whole sequence)
  • Find people that would be committed to cook together
  • Choose a plan that is appropriate for them
  • Participants to set goals for themselves
  • Follow through the program
  • Participants eat well on off days during program?
  • Participants to continue to cook well after program ends
  • Habits and community around what and how we eat


Working Backwards from Website:

  • Website
  • Facebook event (for whatever it is we’re creating) with link to website
  • The Event. At the event, people can enter their email to get a _______ (incentive for starting the program)


Brainstorming Validation

When we do things with others in mind, we are motivated to do well. By creating a community that cooks for one another, we are more likely to… People rely on us and so we are more willing to meet expectations. People’s enthusiasm is contagious and we….

Our behaviors are heavily influenced by those around us. People are more willing to participate in activities when there are others doing it with them. By being part of a community that cooks food for one another, motivation to cook higher quality food increases.


Feedback from peers

I bolded feedback that I felt was relevant.

Mini Market is a great idea, a big issue is going to the grocery store, especially for Freshmen. I would definitely use this, and I see a lot of students use the farmer market that comes to CMU from time to time in the warmer seasons. I think a lot of students want to eat healthier but don’t know how and this is great. Not sure if I would use this website over other food sites such as Food Network, Allrecipes, or Pinterest. I think aesthetically it will be easy to get really kitschy really quickly.

pop-up shop idea is so cute — it’s definitely something that I would be curious and excited to check out. Would students be the ones giving out the food? To me the website seems like it might be a falling off point — it seems like a lot of effort to have to sign up for the program. I wonder if you could distill the main features of it that distinguish it from other recipe sites? Nice color exploration.

cooking by oneself is also nice; it’s a way to destress. maybe send messages to people that it’s okay to cook by yourselves too? Including cooking time and costs would be helpful too since many people may want to be time efficient. Palette looks yummy but also healthy.

What did you think about teaching people cooking skills? Because some people may just not be experienced in cooking.

The colors do feel like they pertain to food, and make me want to eat healthy. I’m excited to see the patterns you make. I’m confused maybe about how the patterns relates to the visual direction inspiration you showed.

A possible issue with the mini-market is the price of giving away free food — maybe consider teaming with a local farmer to bring the produce (like they have done in Resnik). Another question is how buying or having produce from the popup shop could create sustainable habits- because its a one time thing.

How will you appeal to those who just don’t have time to cook? The market in the UC idea is really nice, is this something that students will be buying? Would it be priced lower so that they will be more accessible to students? How will you promote going to the website?

Just so it’s clear, there is no incentive because your audience has their own incentive? Jesse, it’s time to cook. Patterns for your style is a good choice. It feels appropriate.

It’s smart to use vegetables which need to be used within a certain period of time, because its really easy to put things off, so i feel like college students need that extra push. I’m confused about what the program is.. who are the teammates? are they friends? random people? is the food always free? do you get to choose what kinds of foods you get/make? How are you handling the fact that a lot students feel like they don’t have time to cook?

I don’t know if this is something you are thinking ahead of but how would the pop up markets be convinced to give food to give to the students? What about partnering up with local food/farmers markets

a surprising number of people are intimidated by cooking and some swear they’d never get back into the kitchen…so I think starting with people who have the desire to actually cook is indeed more realistic. Looking forward to the visual pieces!

I think you’re approach is very welcoming in reaching out to people within friend groups and encouraging working together. Is the mini-market a routine event/ how often does it happen? Since it is the first introduction to cooking/eating healthy, would it also provide instructions of how to start?

I like the focus on friend groups — reaching out to strangers to try to cook would be intimidating. Giving out fresh produce — who would front the money for that? Maybe coordinating with the farmers markets that already exist on campus. Peer pressure is a good tactic! When people in studio are like I cooked something tasty last night, other people always say they’d like to cook more. Sharing recipes among friends is helpful

Your idea definitely has a nice “fun” aspect to it, but it is really important to make sure people aren’t afraid or like nervous to work with one another. I’m curious how it is going to come to fruition.

Because most of your project requires a higher bar for participation, how do you plan on making sure that people would want to engage in this? Color palette is very nice and it feels very “organic”.

Encourage eating healthy, etc. Ease the fear of cooking, the program needs to be absolutely effortless. Like the catch and phrases, Great try on the color palettes.

Wonder if you could crowd source some parts of your project. Have people offer food, offer recipes, etc. Would be great if people could contribute in that way and feel like they’re personally invested in this. Maybe you could gameify this?

Visual Language Exploration

my line drawings
all of our different styles of carrots
my attempts at laying out Carolyn’s illustrations
I tried to make vector illustrations and color in my line drawings/experiment with a background color.
I tried combining the other two styles.

Moving Towards Final:


done by Christie


my iterations of lettering for the bag
Final vectorized version of my handwriting
one of the early iterations for the bag, done by Carolyn
side and back

With our first attempt at making the bag, the colors turned out a lot different than we intended. The blue and the green were too dark and couldn’t be distinguished from each other. They also call too much attention to the background when we want the attention to be on the text in the foreground. We will play with colors and printing.


really really early quick exploartions
round two. I’ll put our visual elements in place of the green banner. I’m experimenting with the idea of a dashboard for our main screens

For this homepage we got feedback that the numbered icons don’t really give that much information. Also, how we treat the vegetable illustrations should be consistent across the three pieces.


In Class Feedback

  • I see a disconnect between the styles of print and web
  • print and spatial adhere more to doodly, handmade, and crafty vibe while the digital doesn’t
  • Might be difficult to understand what exactly is said to do on the bag, will require that they go to the website
  • I love the visual vocab, really communicates ‘vegetable’ and friendliness
  • visual language carries well, will it carry in the spatial? “Good Cook” is generic (we know). Is there a focus on healthy or being skilled?
  • that bag is killer! website looks great as well. DOn’t see a strong connection from message to concept
  • consistent visual design. connection to eating healthy isn’t clear. One way I’ve tried to come up with ideas is to shout out a list of whatever comes to mind (good or bad) and it usually leads me to something.
  • The bag looks amazing!
  • I don’t understand how the website is related and what it does
  • nice visual design overall! Some connections could be more clear with the web part. Additionally, the environmental piece, how can it stimulate individual sustained healthy cooking?
  • The website looks awesome! I don’t see enough context about the popup shop (I don’t see a description) I am looking for how the bag fits in
  • I see: beautiful illustrations that captures the tone/voice/personality really well. I don’t see: enough about the pop-up shop and how it’s incorporated into the site.

From the feedback it seems like people like the way we’re headed in terms of aesthetics, but that the system doesn’t quite make sense on its own. Unfortunately, we won’t be there to explain our system all of the time so yes, we need to make the connections more clear. Maybe we’ll make a diagram. From seeing other people’s projects, it seems like our group is trying to tackle a lot more in terms of complexity. I think that’s why it’s hard for us to tie all of our pieces together. I’m a bit worried that our project won’t be successful because it’s not intuitive.


SPATIAL: Pop-Up Shop


DIGITAL: Website


I really enjoyed this project. Christie, Carolyn, and I worked pretty well together. We would have meetings to set goals for ourselves and brainstorm. When we got to the making phase, we were able to to work on our own, communicate through facebook, and only come together when we needed to make larger decisions. This was ideal for our busy schedules since it was hard to plan times to meet. We all split the work pretty evenly. Generally, Christie worked on the pop up shop, Carolyn worked on the print piece, and I worked on web. We switched things up when we needed and did odd jobs here and there when someone needed help. We also had a lot of fun with each other. We were inspired by our project to cook for one another and pulled a lot of ideas from personal experience.

Yay Team Good Cook!

I was also really pleased with our final outcome. I think the visual identity is cohesive throughout the piece and that our concept is strong. Creating a visual system was a bit more challenging than I thought. There is just so much to think of, such as color, type consistency, treatment of graphic elements and such. It was a great experience and this project just made me like branding even more.