Select Page

Product | Strait & Stack

There’s a million ways to enjoy food, but I’d bet one of the most fun ones is the buffet. Getting to pick what you like to eat out of a ton of options, customizing  with toppings and trying different meals at the same time is something we don’t get to experience everyday.

This was a challenge proposed by Lúcid Design Agency and Comas, a design studio and a tableware design firm, both from Barcelona. 

 

 

Timeframe

1 month

Challenge

Reinvent the buffet experience

Role

Product designer

Out with the old, in with the new

 Let’s face it, the way we approach food today is different than 20 years ago. It’s not just about how good it tastes, but also how good it looks! and that’s a department buffets certainly need help with. 

Having so much exposure to incredibly presented dishes, and having the social platforms to share your food in, means people in the food industry take more care than ever with how their food looks. After all, one good picture could attract a thousand new customers.

This is the area where buffets struggle the most, because there’s no professional plating for you, so it’s up to the customer to decide what they want, how much of it, and what to compliment it with. While this level of customization allows for users to get exactly what they want, it also creates a myriad of issues.

 

So many choices, so hard to choose 

This is the paradox all consumers think they love, but actually hate. While having infinite options sounds great, psychologists have found that it can make you feel overwhelmed. 

Hick’s Law is a design principle based on this research, and it says that decision making time grows exponentially with the amount of options a user has. So the more options, the longer it takes to decide. This is terrible for food services. Food gets cold, people get upset with waiting too long for their turn,  which results in an overall bad experience. 

This is bad for users, but terrible for businesses that focus on their clients having an amazing experience. Hotels, particularly boutique hotels, focus on the guest experience from the moment they check in until the day they leave. While their restaurant offerings are great, buffets run into all these issues.

The answer lies closer than you think

Now that we know that users are having problems and there’s places to implement these solutions, we set out to find a way to solve all this while making the implementation as easy as possible.

We immediately set our eyes on the other side of the food service spectrum, catering.

Buffets are focused on maximum customization, while catering offers none. It is, however, focused on delivering a ton of dishes at the same time to consumers, with immaculate attention to flavor, detail and looks. This means everyone gets the same great food, waits the same amount of time and has a gorgeous insta-worthy meal.

So, is there a way to merge the great qualities of catering, while holding on to the essence of customization of buffets?

And we came up with Strait & Stack

We thought hard about what makes a buffet great and what catering does best and how to make it even better, both for the customer and the service provider. The idea is for the top bowls to carry ready-to-go meals (say an açai bowl, a thai curry coconut soup or even a fresh poké), and the bottom bowls to carry delicious matching toppings for the dish being served. This gives users the option to either take the dish as-is (just like in a catered meal), or to customize it to their hearts content with the available toppings. It also offers consumers a high-end meal expertly prepared by the chef, with the option to add a sprinkle of uniqueness via toppings, while also waiting much less for their turn. This creates a much better experience for the user, which can translate into more users coming back to experience it again. 

Materials more than just for looks

Because our target consumer is focused on high-end experiences, we wanted Strait & Stack to look and feel premium. 

Both Strait & Stack feature a gold PVD coated aluminum structure, along with exquisite, glossy white porcelain, and a beautiful, textured base made of slate.

Stack also comes with a gorgeous base made of acacia wood, full of warm undertones and delightful texture.

They’re also sturdy and easy to clean, which is key in any product that comes in contact with food and tons of people.

Together, they offer a sense of quality, luxury and set the consumer up for a top-of-the-line experience, from the moment they pick up their plate, to the moment they leave the restaurant.

 

That’s it! thanks for checking it out.

I would love to see Strait & Stack  in boutique hotels all around the world. I think they’d fit perfectly in the premium experience these places offer, and I can imagine customers taking pictures of their unique bowls, having fun and loving the food they’re about to eat.

Drop a line and let me know what you think worked best! 

you can also head back home and check some of my other projects.