There is a huge waste in the butter tear-off process. Butter has a single use in its package, and sometimes all it takes is a swipe of a knife to finish the butter. Small plastic formats are then thrown away without any way to recover the material.
Rather than creating tear-offs, what if B2B Owner's had their spreads fully on their butter knives, like a sword and its sheath (capsule)? Within the capsule holds the food ingredient such as butter, hummus, jam and many other spreads available to people. The capsule is cleverly designed such that people may twist and scoop out the spread from within. The friendly form reminds users of an ice-cream stick, and once done, they can continue to use the knife for other purposes.
However, if we are to extend the idea to reimagine the delivery model, we can introduce a product as a service model, or in this case, spread as a service. This means that while B2B owners are paying only for the butter spread, they will not be paying for the cutleries. Instead, the cutleries goes back, and gets reused again after being washed and filled with the ingredients. This creates a closed loop without creating an additional burden on the environment since deliveries of butter are already happening.
We target local suppliers, who prides themselves with quality food output. Because, at the end of the day, the whole culinary experience, including the quality of food, is what we are after for our end user's experience. It also helps the local guys scale their businesses together.
When done locally, circularity is achieved. Less carbon footprint is made due to tighter loops. Besides reusability of the cutleries, Camphor's partnership with business customers also helps control full product usage and recovery, such that we are able to make new capsules with the same materials. With the advancement of recycling and 3d printing, new life can be given to the capsules
SWORDPLAY will significantly reduce the plastic waste, and thus the impact on the environment. But more than that, it ensures that there is a closed loop for a range of context, from homes (think airbnb or just for personal consumption) to hotels to restaurants to airlines. Beyond the butter service, SWORDPLAY extends to other food ingredients, such as jam and hummus. Ultimately, a closed loop is created where the supplier avoids paying for additional material cost, and can impose a cheaper lease model to the B2B owners, where the suppliers can control the number of the materials that is used.
Having spoken to 3 chefs and 1 hotel manager, with a few cold emails lined up, I realized that the biggest insight is that while restaurant wishes to own the internal processes of washing and filling, they wish to do it on their terms with cost as the biggest driver. Given the scale of guest who requested for spreads, as well as the various options on how spreads could be prepared and served, there is no strong demand for a hotel or restaurant to switch to a greener approach. The chef and hotel also pride themselves in the way they handle food, both as hygiene and food quality, so preparing their own butter and portioning it out is what they do to prevent wastage and handle customer experience. The lesson learnt to see where other business opportunities could lie.
While my sense is to continue to speak more hotel owners and have the time and space to work on subsequent versions, I realized that the airline industry is way bigger in terms of scale, an appetite for innovation and underlying needs, though hygiene, food quality and cost remain the same. Hence, I have shifted my focus on airlines, but also to create a set of milestones that targets specific hotel and restaurant owners
The Big Idea
Product Journey Map
User experience across stakeholder
USABILITY LOG: To document the whole refinement process
Conducted user testing with former air stewardess over SWORDPLAY and its system, as well as to understand the airline industry better. Had insights on why bread is used as meals, the process of food served to consumers, and some considerations when designing SWORDPLAY for planes
29th August 2017
Conducted user testing with hotel manager and fine dining chef over SWORDPLAY and its system. Learnt about the washing and filling process, and hotel consideration when choosing a local producer or a particular food recipe. Also understood the material consideration around cutleries and its interaction with spreads, and the amount of pride a hotel would have in its food quality when it has a in house central kitchen
25th August 2017
Did a Quick and dirty prototyping that will be used for experimenting and feedback with an upcoming restaurant manager. After finishing the prototype, a few iteration popped up:
- What if there is a flat extrusion created so that the capsule can rest upright?
- Handle can be slightly slender
- Twisting the knife to dig out butter prompted a thread-like groove to grip butter out of the container
- what if we swap the head of the knife with other apparatus, like a toothpick, a brush, a longer capsule? The list goes on to the various configurations
22nd August 2017
UPDATE: SWORDPLAY knife CAD modelling done, user testing with hotel chef conducted
NEXT STEP: creating rough and ready prototype, user testing with students, restaurant managers and owners, check in with our advisor! Stay tuned!
Sharing session and immersion trip with chefs in hotel kitchen
From left to right: plenty of recyclable plastics, but there isn't a formal system to collect and recycle plastics; chef Ming did think about coming with a dessert dish with a similar SWORDPLAY concept! Kitchen makes their own butter and spreads, but could be as base ingredients for pastry.
Feedback on prototype: beautiful, well design. liked the shape of the design, and has class/luxurious feel to it. Questions about the recyclability of the materials, though respondent might not fully understand the circular management. Respondents commented about the brittleness of glass. There are recycling bins in the back kitchen, but not much has been recycled due to the high possibilities of contamination from food leftovers. Not part of any SOP for kitchen as there is no machinery or complex food consideration, hence it is easy to be introduced operationally.
21st August 2017
UPDATE: Thorough investigation of the solution, working on a rough and ready prototype, done an interview with chef
NEXT STEP: More user testing, product development on the rest of the solutions, check in with our advisor! Stay tuned!
Interviewed a pastry chef who have worked in a large chain hotel for more than 7 years. To him, spreads are important enough for them to see how they can recreate a new taste to build upon the existing spreads. Most chefs will buy pre-mixes that are off the shelf and may present it to their guests. VIPs are treated slightly differently; chefs will build spreads from scratch to serve them. He commented that tear-offs are highly favourable at the buffet. One observation he makes is the huge waste of tear-off, from partial eating to not eating it at all. "Waiters will not deliberately take spreads out. In the rush of things, they will just swoop all of the food away, even spreads that are not touched"
When commenting on the prototype, he claims that material and labour cost will come in the way of chain hotels. Labour is huge factor in Singapore, especially if there are additional sets of culteries that need to be washed. He did say that boutique and niche establishment might fare better. Umami is not what consumers are aware of, ultimately, it's the ingredients that makes the difference to the average consumer.
The chef also makes homemade jam and sweet onion churney, and aspires to start his own business one day. While cost of running is still one of his biggest concerns, he likes doing his craft, and will entrust a company to handle the relationship and distribution of his produce. "Yes, i would like to see this as a business someday."