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TEAGUE Product Design came to Western Washington University with a compelling problem statement - Access over ownership: identify an experience that gets better the more people there are using it. The project began as an investigation of what makes a product social or non-social. I became interested in food and what made certain foods social. TEAGUE chose two student ideas and we formed teams around these projects. I became team leader for Local Kitchen.
To further our understanding, we looked into statistics on American eating habits, including dining practices, health, and happiness. Additionally, we interviewed people about their perceptions, experiences, and practices cooking with others, and difficulties they experienced.
Food is inherently social. From tribes of hunter gathers, to farming societies, humans have historically depended on their community for food. With new technologies in production, transportation, and preservation, we no longer depend on our community for food. Food has become just another object we buy from a store, not knowing what it contains or where those ingredients came from. Our fast paced lifestyles have led to the rise of “fast food,” which goes beyond fast food restaurants: frozen dinners, meal replacements, boxed dinners, and other pre-prepared foods, fill grocery store shelves.
However, because of its history, food has a great potential for creating social connections. Our culture still has traditions like Thanksgiving that bring people together. We also eat out with friends, cook for our family members, and take baked goods to our neighbors during the holidays. Why not make possible a community where people can cook and eat together more easily.
Due to urbanization, kitchens have been getting smaller. People living in small apartments, in large cities, do not have kitchens that properly facilitate cooking. While a high quality kitchen can make cooking more enjoyable, few can afford a large, well equipped kitchen; on their own that is. If a high quality kitchen becomes a shared space, users gain the same benefits, but without having sole ownership, drastically reducing cost: ACCESS OVER OWNERSHIP.
Where is a convenient location for a shared kitchen? Grocery stores are located in populated areas, and are tailored to serve their community. They are a place people already go to get food, people are familiar with them, and the public nature of the space provides a comfortable atmosphere for meeting new people.
Placing the Local Kitchen inside a grocery store gave us the opportunity to co-brand. Allowing the Local Kitchen to build off of the reputation of an established brand, the grocery store, would help with community adoption. But additionally it was important for Local Kitchen to have it’s own brand too, focused on community and food. I created a logo for the Local Kitchen and some sample posters ads.
A key element of this project is being able to translate the service and experience of the Local Kitchen into physical space. The focus of the architecture was: To generate a unified brand experience through material application and visual aesthetics, create a fluid user experience and flow through efficient floor planning, and create a physical space to translate the language and intent of the Local Kitchen.
We chose to develop a circular design for its ability to create smooth user flow, to centralize the professional area, and to create a more holistic experience.
Natural lighting from skylights are utilized to give users a sense of open space.
Rustic iron beams and exposed brick are used to create a timeless feel. Color and surface breaks were applied using the brand language and visual aesthetics of the existing market complex.
Another important component of this concept is the cooking station. It needed to be a versatile and efficient station with a minimal footprint. Focusing on creating the proper flow of food was important as well; from preparation, to cooking, to serving. The station’s linear workflow allows for users not to obstruct each other’s paths.
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The station features a fridge and shelves for ingredients storage, an induction range, which makes cleaning easier, an oven and two sinks.
Additionally, we developed a system for rotating out cookware and dishes at stations after use. The cart contains all the standard cookware and dishes a user might need. The wire rack is lifted out by an employee, and placed in an industrial dish washer. This ensures accountability, and means a user does not have to wash dishes.
Other services include a dedicated onsite professional to help users with new techniques or any other questions.
And also dedicated checkouts for Local Kitchen members that lead right into the cooking area.
To help facilitate the service portion of the Local Kitchen, a smart phone application concept was created. This application served as a means to connect the user to the physical location, enabling them to access information, schedule usage, and to network with friends.
The app uses location data of the user and displays Local Kitchens in their area. He or she is given access to current sales, special promotions exclusive to LK members, information about classes, events and insight about friends also involved in with the Local Kitchen. When the user selects a recipe, the app will display it with a breakdown of cost per person. Then they can reserve a station and time, add any specialty tools, and invite friends.
Eating used to be social and a key to reinforcing community but in recent years food and the issues that surround it have increasingly become ones of access: access to quality produce, to knowledge of how to prepare it and the financial means to purchase it. The result? Increasingly large portions of the population don’t enjoy the benefits of good eating. When health and wellness concerns are added to the mix, the social benefits of providing equal access to good food becomes enormous.
Local Kitchen seeks to address the issue by reducing many of the barriers to healthy eating—specifically cost, access and knowledge. Installed at national and regional grocery stores, Local Kitchen provides enrollees the space, equipment, instruction and produce they need to learn and prepare healthy meals. The program combines features of fidelity programs with social media tools encouraging participants to discover recipes and techniques while allowing them the opportunity to meet new people.
Local Kitchen

Local Kitchen provides the community convenient access to a high quality cooking facility. A public kitchen in a grocery store is utilized to create a functional space where people can cook and socialize, strengthening community bonds.

Freelance, Full-time
Bryce Moulton
Industrial Designer Poulsbo, WA