Service Design: Food+Music service, process

We aim to develop a music service that enhances the cooking experience from begining to end.

Project by: Mary Tsai, Soonho Kwon, Susie Lee, and Josh LeFevre

Week 1: March 2, 2018

This week we were assigned our teams for Service Design. Our first collaboration was really engaging and we created a rough affinity diagram for our interests. The team gravitated towards visual and sensory components to enhance and exaggerate the experience of listening to music. One concept we were potentially looking at was using immersive experiences as a platform for our final product.

Today’s class consisted of further collaboration and throwing out some more ideas. It seems like our main preferences break down into sense enhancement, spatial music, active/passive listening, and music to enhance experiences.

Going forward, we plan on researching case studies and existing services that might encompass some of the concepts that we are interested in. Most of our ideas overlap but our next steps will be to start scoping and and narrowing down our field of interests to try to start suggesting possible audiences and service designs.

WEEK 2: March 9, 2018

We initially started out by looking at soundtracks and how they tell a story from beginning to end similarly to playlists. When we looked at playlists, we recalled how they can get repetitive and boring after awhile. However, after talking to Molly and Daphne, they suggested that we look into another aspect of music as service for playlists is a crowded market.

As a team we honed in on 4 different topics that we were interested in investigating further. Josh looked into spatial relations to music, Mary looked at music’s effects on experiences, Soonho looked into active/ passive listening, and Susie looked into the relation between music and the senses. We conducted mostly secondary research.

Key insights


  • music immersive technology includes things like surround sound


  • music affects one’s experience with food (high pitch vs low pitch, etc)
  • Music in restaurants can affect one’s taste buds/ experience


  • passive listening is when music is put in the bg
  • active listening is when one is strictly paying attention to the sound


  • music affects sight, smell, and taste
  • music can evoke vivid memories
  • music can cause arousal in emotions

From this, we ideated possible innovations we could create and voted (Each person got two +1’s!).

The ideated possibilities were:

  • service for memories (assisting individuals with dementia, etc.)
  • maintaining optimal sleep patterns
  • music for an enhanced cooking experience
  • service to promote active listening in a communal setting
  • music video enhancement
  • sound isolation chamber for active listening

We concluded to pursuing a service that will enhance and transform the daily cooking experience. It is a service that will heighten the senses.

We plan to create a music service that enhances the individual in-home cooking experience. 
We’re looking to create a journey that someone can go through, starting from the initial food prep stage, to cooking, to plating, and finally eating (similar to how soundtracks and playlists are able to convey a mood/ series of emotions).

This service could potentially partner with other food services such as Blue Apron and Hello Fresh in delivering a catered experience for home cookers. 
Our hope is to transform the everyday chore of cooking into a fun and immersive experience. 
We want to access as many of the senses as possible to make the overall experience more memorable. We would also like to explore the concept of active music listening vs passive listening when on the journey of cooking. In addition, we would like to use music as a way for individuals to time their cooking!

In the design research we did, we discovered that there has been some previous research done on synesthetic taste qualities such as higher-pitched music enhancing sweetness and lower pitched and brassy sounds tasting bitter. There has been other individuals who investigated this topic including the Darlingtons and Surreal Gourmet.

Our next steps will be to see if there are any existing services that provide this similar concept, we can potentially interview and chat with the Darlingtons (Molly’s friends who are cocktail and cheese experts), check out Surreal Gourmet.

Some questions we still have to explore are:

  • How will we get the music?
  • Where is it coming from?
  • Is it worth partnering with food delivery systems?

After the mini crit on Thursday, our group will look into these steps during the break:

  • Personal chefs — symbiosis of food and music coming together
  • How are you going to get the music and where is it coming from?
  • Look into what services already do this (existing platforms)
  • Reach out to contacts
  • Initial survey idea

WEEK 3: March 23, 2018

Scenario building

Following up from last week’s post. We reached out to many potential subject matter experts and are still waiting on their responses. In the meantime, we began exploring idea generation by constructing scenarios around what a cooking music service may look like or operate.

Phase brainstorm

We began thinking through the cooking narrative. Specifically, how could music act as the soundtrack to a cooking experience. We developed five phases to consider:

  1. Ordering/shopping
  2. Delivery
  3. Preparation (food prep & plating)
  4. Eating
  5. Clean-up

From there we developed five storyboards based on various potential users of the service. The purpose of developing these stories was to test different aspects of our assumptions and see how others would respond to our ideas. The scenarios are below

1. Setting the mood for a romantic evening (left); 2. Assisting a single individual focusing on meal prep for the week (right)
3. An italian themed friend dinner (left); 3. A host of a birthday party (right)
5. Cooking and muisc as a bonding and learning experience for parent and child

Idea speed dating

Speed dating our scenarios

After creating the scenarios we we use the speed dating method to share our ideas with another group of individuals to act as a sounding board on our project. Below is the poignant feedback we recieved.

  • Italian night with friends seems to the most concrete and reusable idea
  • The date night & parent-child ideas bring up an intersting idea of how could the service be shared or create connection between two peopl e
  • Could music of authentic dishes provide both the thic music and current music of an area
  • From the scenarios, it is hard to cearly tell who the stakeholders are
  • How would the music be distributed?
  • I really enjoy having the music react to the mood or enviroment of an event; even cuing up birthday music or signalling the end of a party
  • Would an audio assistant aid in the process
  • Will the product be served in a physical from (physical recipes & CD,etc) or digital and all available on an tablet
  • Could this expereince be expanded to other “industries” or activites such as: waking-up DIY, etc
  • How to pari music I actually like with new food or food that I like. More of a human touch than an AI created playlist
  • How does the music actually support me through the cooking process?

Additionally we uncovered some deeper questions to answer or explore.

  • How would this service be different than just a well curated playlist?
  • What if the serivce was a one time or select service that those wanting a new experience sought out.
  • How could we or should we make the music the primary experience?
  • Could this service serve as an educational experience?
  • Does VR/AR/MR play a role in this service?
  • How could we chase more of an authentic experience?
  • How could local instruments from a cuisine’s region be incorporated?

Next Steps

  • Create updated storyboards
  • Answer new questions
  • Eat/order food and add music to the experience to test assumptions

WEEK 5: March 29, 2018

Speed Dating Reflection—

After our speed dating session during class, we realized that, although we did not find a specific idea that we loved, there were some ideas from these ideas that we were drawn towards. These ideas included:

  • There exists a relationship between music and food, but we have yet to find a strong symbiosis.
  • There was much interest in the idea of music playing a bigger role in the service, perhaps not as a supplement but an active role.
  • There was interest in the cultural implications of music, especially through history in specific locations.
  • There was interest in the idea of storytelling through music

Brainstorm Session—

Our team sat down and talked about this feedback and how we want to expand or narrow down on certain ideas. With some feedback from other groups, we decided to pursue three main concepts:

  • Music and food as equal agents for telling a story
  • Music used to transform food preparation into a performance
  • Transporting the gourmet restaurant experience to the home kitchen

Updated Storyboards—

With some deliberation, we arrived at these storyboards ideas:

This scenario is one in which music and food are used as a storytelling medium. The user would buy into a cultural experience, not a specific meal or piece of music. The music and food might then be used to guide the users through stories of cultural history!

Scenario two dealt with the association between food and music itself. There is this metaphor that was made that the assemblage of each ingredient is similar to the assemblage of the different elements of a musical piece. We are interested in highlighting these relationships for greater understanding of the cooking process while also increasing musical appreciation.

Scenario three is one in which music is used more as a branding element that is used for restaurants and food vendors, where there is an association between certain foods and musical pieces. With this scenario, we would focus more on things like personalization?

After this second round of storyboards and feedback, we converged primarily on scenario two, and we will be progressing with that idea and explore how the service could emerge as we explore the value exchanges.

3/28 Meeting—

We tried speed dating with some classmates to see what attracted them to most to the relationship between food and music. We learned that what people liked the most was the idea of how food can emphasize a journey that the cook goes through and how to utilize music to show those fluctuations in emotion.

We briefly considered other concepts that touched upon this idea by discussing an in-restaurant experience where the diners would be able to hear the preparation journey within the kitchen of their food being made.

Ultimately, we decided to continue with our idea of the in-home cooking experience because it is more feasible for a single cook to listen to music as a guide as opposed to a large number of people who are all ordering different items at varying lengths of time.

3/29 Class Feedback—

From our presentation, we were challenged mainly to understand better where the music comes from, as well as the specific details of how our platform is a service. We were encouraged to think about how restaurants carefully choose their music, and the decision making process that they undergo.

Next Steps—

Our team plans to go to a restaurant sometime this week to experience for ourselves intentionally how food and music can be correlated. We hope to meet separately at some other point to discuss the details of the service.

WEEK 6: April 6, 2018

Researching music at Apteka

This week we started off our research with dinner at Apteka to see if how the music might affect the environment. After a few songs, we realized that the music being played was a little strange, mostly consisting of ambient noises or more unique melodies. We spoke with the owner, Tomas (a fellow CMU alum) to see how he curates the music and he said that his objective was to play the sort of songs that take people a little out of their comfort zone. This seems to fit with the vibe of the restaurant because Apteka serves solely vegan food and encourages most diners to eat outside of their comfort zone in that aspect as well.

We had finalized our concept to focus on using music to learn about cooking food, similarly to how newcomers learn different skills from online courses. We wanted to look at how sounds can guide cooks to figure out what kinds of ingredients go well together or which ones are slightly more discordant so in our concept, we considered using Augmented Reality or a smart device to identify each of the food products being used, which would then trigger sounds that the cook would hear. One of the examples we used was the Food Network show, Chopped — often these chefs receive ingredients that are completely unrelated and they always know how to pair certain foods together to taste good but if it was a new cook, they would have no idea — they mostly rely on what the recipe specifies. We would like our service to help cooks learn about the natural blends and characteristics of ingredients, and to be able to fundamentally understand the relationships between the flavors.

Brainstorming for our concept

We also tried testing our own experiences when cooking and listening to music. When cooking, it seemed like the more methodical processes of chopping, slicing, and peeling were sped up by the music since it provided an alternate source of concentration, whereas the actual cooking process required more attention and the music became less active. There is something interesting in the way the human mind focuses on certain things one at a time and how music fades so easily from the forefront of one’s attention to the background.

We created a few story boards that we ran by Daphne in class on Tuesday and she suggested that we consider how cooking can be a social aspect and clarified on our time frame — we should be designing for the present time, not a few years out.

We felt pretty confident about our idea since we had started to do a very basic value flow map to figure out who our partners would be; however, Molly pointed out several good points in class, in that we have to consider the value flow between them and our service and how those organizations would benefit from a partnership. After our talk, we realized that we should be forming a concept based around the stakeholders/partnerships and we have to keep considering feasibility since we are supposed to be designing for the present time, instead of a few years out.

For our next steps, we have to reconsider our concept before moving forward with a blueprint. We have an interview set up with Blue Apron for Friday afternoon to discuss their business model and how the customer experiences the whole service. We also have sent out a survey and have received 64 responses, and counting. Overall, it seems that people consider music an integral part of the cooking experience but do not listen to music when eating. This seems to indicate that our idea to tackle the cooking process is definitely valid and that many users would be receptive to a service that teaches better cooking skills through music.

We are meeting on Saturday to consider our partnerships and to research the feasibility of our concept.

WEEK 7: April 13, 2018

After our conversation/ crit with Molly and Daphne, we went back to the drawing board. We looked into exploring past just music and food. As a team, we came up with 10 ideas! Each person had 3 votes and we voted for the ones that we thought had the most potential in order to become a service with technology that wouldn’t be too difficult to execute.

Our top 3 ideas are:

  1. A service for street performers: connecting street performs to the most optimal space for performance in a city based on population data.
  2. A service to enhance the yelp experience: incorporating 360 photos with music playlist in order for users to get a better understanding about the restuarant’s ambiance.
  3. A service to match mood setting music through nature: Service that will take the sounds from nature into different settings in order to set a mood.

We explored these three through value flows and user flows/ touchpoints.

1. value for street performers; 2. value for 360 photo+music repetoire for restaurants; 3. value for music from nature in non natural settings
Exploring ideas through rudimentary stakeholder map and blueprint

After exploring non-food examples, we were still not thoroughly bought on the idea of pivoting so extremely. Instead, we wanted to work on our already existing idea rather. We went back to our original idea and developed slight adjustments in order to make our idea more into a service.

Feeling a bit more confident about our idea, we met again in order to develop a service blueprint and value flows. We still aren’t quite sure about where the music will come from. Whether it is SoundCloud (in order to incorporate a more community aspect), AI generated (procedural generated music), or with already existing platforms like iTunes (for purchase of the music).

The two different service blueprint ideas are just one that is with the end user and one that encompasses all of the service backstage portion and the end user.

We created five different value flow diagrams in order to represent possible partnerships with different music platforms/ options and food delivery service (Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, etc.) vs. restuarants.

Moving forward, we would like to experiment with specific recipes and songs. In addition, we would like to find out through non conventional design research methods to see if people actually like exploring new music or prefer listening to their own.

We need to figure out the description of the service so that it is not confusing. The service is slightly different in nature from a regular delivery service.

Testing/prototyping Phase —

  • Identify the scenarios in which music could be played in a consumption setting/environment
  • What do people do when eating?
  • Passive listening or active listening
  • Does the food taste better or the same?
  • I’m sure there is an element of them creating the food adding to taste?

Going into the weekend before a video concept, we would like to prototype the experience of our service.

Prototyping Goals:

  • Environment
  • No distractions
  • Sharing with other people
  • No background noise
  • Music
  • Playlist
  • “AI Generated” WOZ
  • Composed Music
  • Blue Apron Card
  • How can we modify/ add to inform the consumption experience?

Framing might be that Blue Apron has control over the food-making experience, but maybe giving more control over the food-consumption experience might be beneficial??

Promotes more mindful consumption and active listening? This would highlight the origins of the food.

WEEK 8: April 20, 2018

After solidifying our music + food pairing service we our service proposition statement emerged:

[Name in progress] is a service that enhances the taste and perception of food through partnerships with food services using synesthetic research on pairing music with foods based on ingredients, flavors and textures; unlike, Turntable Kitchen, Mood Media, or Spotify who only pair food to a music genre (e.g. Mexican food with Mexican music) in order to set the mood of a dining event.

This week we focused on scoping and prototyping our project. We began be setting team deadlines and setting individual assignemnts. Below you’ll see our proposed schedule and first touchpoint’s prototype for an end user.

We also made the decision that our service is more of a B2B service but with a user touch point at the actual time of listening to the food paired music while eating. We decided to move forward with using Soundcloud as our database.

(left) Calendar and individual assignments; (middle) Front side of the prototyped Blue Apron card; (right) Reviewing our Blue Apron music card touchpoint

Professors Molly and Daphne feedback —

When we presented our idea, value flow, and service propositon to Molly and Daphne this week we recieved positive feedback. Overall, they liked the direction we were headed and the service we were building. The main critque they had was a challenge to think about how the end user would experience our service even thought we are a B2B company. They also wanted to to see what touch-points we would provide in the home.

User testing —

We’ve read many articles about the impact of music on one’s percption of food. Ben Houge is one of the leaders in this field and shared a concise TEDx talk on the subject.

We sought to test the theories around the affect of music on food perception. To do so, we created a food taste test to see for ourselves the effect of music on taste. We also sought to gain a clear undertanding into how individuals or end consumers may prefer to engage with a service who creates these music–food pairings.

To carry out this experiment, we chose the following foods and paired them with existing music. While the specific pairings of our chosen foods were not in the journal articles we read; we took the data and qualitative insight provided and applied it to the hours of music we listened to in order to create the following music + food pairings:

For our user testing we recruited peers from design and other parts of campus to participate. We randomized who listened to music and who ate the food without the music. The taste test went as follows:

  1. Explain the directions for tasting, recording and consumption of the food
  2. Eat a unsalted cracker and swish your mouth with water to clear the palate
  3. Taste and eat the chips and salsa
  4. Record taste perceptions
  5. Eat a unsalted cracker and swish your mouth with water to clear the palate
  6. Taste and eat the strawberry cupcake
  7. Record taste perceptions
  8. Provide insight into how they would interact with a music + food paring service in the home
Three of our eleven food testers

After testing with eleven participants, we found a significant increase on individuals’ perception of taste when we added music chosen to specifically pair with the food being consumed. For the areas and flavors we focused on, the increase in overall enjoyment and flavor enhancement was similar to studies in our secondary research.

Compiled results from the food taste test

In addition to the taste feedback, we also recieved ideas or insights into what items users may want if they were to bring a music and food paring service into their home.

A selection of our user feedback portions concering how the service may operate within their home

Next Steps —

  • Synthesis user testing
  • Complete final value flow
  • Complete next draft of our service blueprint
  • Develop out our primary touch-points (recipe/music pairing card, in-home iPad app or device for listening to and commenting on the music)
  • Write a case study for our service
  • Create video storyboard for final presentation

WEEK 9: April 27, 2018

Monday Meeting:

During our meeting on Monday, we formed a script based off the video storyboard that we produced:

Video Storyboard

Ultimately, we wanted to communicate the idea that we understand the value system of the food delivery services, and wanted to make them more apparent to the consumers. We decided that this video would take place during a business meeting environment, so we should address the business directly, not the end consumer. We wanted to have a video go through the comprehensive research and user flow, highlighting all the touchpoints we designed and prototyped.

Classtime Tuesday and Thursday:

At this point we were in prep mode before we shot our video on Friday. We were preparing all the assets such as logos, graphic design for branding, figuring out which recipe/music pairing we would use, touchpoints appearing in the video (recipe cards, music info cards), and how exactly we are going to shoot everything in the environment decided upon (Mary’s Kitchen).

Friday Video Shoot:

This was a really productive shooting session. We had to figure out some things along the way, but it was aided greatly by the preparation with the storyboard and the script.

We had to do some last minute assembly of the video assets, but then we were ready to shoot. It was very worthwhile to make these items look extra clean, to give this video much more of a legitimacy feel. It definitely helped us act more appropriately as well.

The final meal we made: Salmon with Rice.

At this point, we have the raw footage and have sent off the script to be edited. We will be splicing together the final movie soon! Here are some GIFs of the filming session.

WEEK 10: May 3, 2018

With our final presentation on Monday, we are preparing the video, the pitch, and the case study. Our main objective is to understand an appropriate and clear story arc for the presentation.

From the first week, we knew that we wanted to focus on the relationship between food and music but we tried many different sorts of concepts within that subject. For the presentation, we think it would be helpful to outline and explain our pivots, what we explored, and how we ended up with our final concept. We considered many different parts of the cooking and eating experience — the first few concept ideas dealt with the cooking portion, but ultimately, we decided to look at the eating experience since that’s where the majority of the existing research is when looking at the relationship between flavors, textures, and music.

Our plan is to meet on Friday and finalize the content and video before splitting up the presentation and rehearsing. Since there are approximately 6-7 minutes to each section, we want to make sure that the information is balanced and that there are no redundancies in the presentation.

We also finalized on a name for our service by writing out 10 different names per person and voting on our top 4. We then collected the ones that had the most votes and speed dated them with other individuals in our class. Eventually, we ended up with Sound Bite — a play off “sound bytes”.