cook-to-serve kitchenware

is all-in-one cookware that functions as a pan, serving dish, and food storage container designed for college students or individuals living in small apartments.  Pantastic allows the user to fully prepare, eat, and store a meal with only one dish, decreasing clean-up time and resources.  The design features a pan with a detachable handle, a protective ceramic dish, and an airtight lid.  This project was created for Design Thinking and Communication, a 10-week engineering course at Northwestern University.

with Northwestern University President Morton Shapiro. From left to right: Rui Zhou, Giovanna Varalta, Samuel Lobo, Tony Huang, and me.

For 3 weeks of the course, I was project manager and responsible for overseeing our progress within our timeline and delegating individual assignments.  As a team member, I participated in user research and prototype testing, created all of the final sketches and renderings of our design, and machined components on the lathe and mill.

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white space exploration

Through research at retailers like Crate and Barrel and Williams and Sonoma, we noticed a homogeneity the kitchenware market.  However, despite the invariance in products, cookware sales have nearly doubled in the past decade. We saw this as an opportunity to take advantage of the growing market and introduce a new, unique product to satisfy unmet needs.  After interviewing and observing users, we identified cooking and cleaning in small kitchens as a problem that could be solved with an innovative kitchenware product.

    design components

    ceramic-coated aluminum pan

    This 8" pan is well-sized for cooking and eating individual meals.  We chose an aluminum pan with a ceramic coating for a lightweight, low-cost product with a high-quality non-stick surface.  Aluminum pans are cheapest to mass produce and a ceramic coating is safer, longer-lasting, and more environmentally friendly than Teflon.

    detachable handle

    Through user interviews, we found out that many people do not eat out of a normal pan because the handle is inconvenient and gets in the way.  Our detachable handle design is simple to use and solves this problem.  Our prototype features two stainless steel pins that fit into the pan, but for future iterations, we hope to have a button mechanism that would be even simpler for users.

    ceramic pan holder

    When the user is done cooking, they would place the pan in the holder and detach the handle before eating.  The ceramic pan holder protects the user and any dining surface from heat radiating from the pan.  Since this component does not directly touch the food, it does not need to be washed with each use.

    The flat, airtight, glass lid enables Pantastic to function as a food-storage container.  It has an insulated handle that allows the user to easily lift the lid while cooking, but also folds flat for easy stacking during storage.  The silicone rim creates an air-tight seal, which keeps odors out and the food within fresh.

    building a prototype

    In order to create a working prototype within the short project timeline, we purchased a pan and ceramic dish as the basis of our prototype.  We detached the pan handle and added two stainless-steel pins that fit into the pan.  The flat, airtight lid is made of a silicone ring between two layers of acrylic.