Cooking the perfect MUZSE Recipe

Food, oh how we love to talk about food–how much we love it, when we last ate, what we can’t eat, why we can’t eat it, etc. Our culture is highly conscious of food because an expanded knowledge of our needs and more options catering to every lifestyle. But how do we make something as variety-filled as eating easier to do? This is the question that Table 1 tried to solve during MUZSE’s Style Lab (MUZSE is, of course, the new collaborative brainchild of Milk and Intel launched in September.)

Throughout the lab, a day-long effort, we pondered a solution to a problem that we face and tried to facilitate the idea to fruition, and where better to start than with the energy source of most living organisms? Where we share a similarity with other species, which of course is eating in general, we also have an essential difference: the pleasure to be picky with taste. This gives us as many blessings as it does curses…we can choose! We can choose to not eat pork, love sushi, or pizza, or we can choose to be vegetarian, or vegan, or whatever the opposite of that would be (a diet only based on meat…meatism?). We also have factors which we can’t choose like gluten allergies, peanut allergies, lactose intolerance, high cholesterol, vitamin deficiencies; the range of ‘cans’ and ‘can’ts’ and ‘wills’ and ‘won’ts’ are endless.

In his introductory speech Adam Joseph, co-founder of Legs Media and MUZSE, alluded to Thomas Edison and his groundbreaking invention of the light bulb. He explained that as influential as the bulb was, a substantial part of its influence stemmed from others taking the invention and generating the question: how do I use this power to share my potential? The same principle was to be applied in our thinking; how do we get the power of technology to benefit the goal of our idea and therein the main goal of our users? We began brainstorming how we could create our own translation.

David Rose, an award-winning entrepreneur, author, instructor at the MIT Media Lab, and keynote speaker of the day, posed a certain solution with his idea of ‘enchanted objects’–ordinary objects made extraordinary by adding motion and magic to them. My favorite exemplary object he showed included an umbrella inspired by the Sting sword in Lord of the Rings, lighting up if orcs were close (an idea re-appropriated to warn if it’s going to rain that day by lighting up), and a proverbial wallet that connects to your bank account, becoming physically harder to open as you get closer to blowing through your budget.

Our group’s idea was to create something to ease people’s lives, not make them harder. We wanted to focus on functionality and, much like Rose’s enchanted objects, create something magical out of something ordinary. The first step was coming up with what we wanted to happen, so we maintained that the user would create a profile with their personal information which would then do two things: communicate with restaurants to see if they could cater to the user’s profile, and also do a health reading of the user and determine whether that certain day the user was deficient of, say, Vitamin C or Iron, or whatever, and what they would need to eat in order to become balanced.

Sounds easy, right? Not quite. During the design of the product, we were initially a little stuck since we tried to cater to all aesthetic desires with one product rather than providing various physical options that might not have been as akin to each other as we wanted; we were thinking about bracelets, rings, dog tags, glasses, but somehow it wasn’t perfect. We had just seen Bettina Chin and Sandra Lopez discuss the MICA bracelet, a collaboration between Opening Ceremony and Intel, that combines both aesthetics and functionality. Bettina was in our group, so the need to be both functional as well as oh-so-pretty was even greater; I mean we couldn’t let her down! Eventually we took a few steps back and realized that we could make the product even simpler, even more invisible, and even easier to live with. We came up with a patch or temporary-tattoo of sorts – something that people wouldn’t have conflict over the design of since it wouldn’t even be visible! And in contrast to the myriad of dietary options and aesthetic tastes people have, the invisibility of our product would cater to all; no fuss, no fight.

At the end of the day we realized food was even more important to the MUZSE Style Lab than we had thought/considered/imagined–not because everyone eats, which is obvious, but because everyone there was an ingredient. The attendees were as diverse as the products each group came up with, but even through the differences, the end goal was what it needed to be. Each viewpoint made an impact, acting as a key step towards reaching a successful recipe–one of many to come out of the MUZSE cookbook.

Artwork by Jesse Auersalo

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