DAT 401 – Assignment – Week 1 – Divergent Technology

Brief: Produce an instructional illustration for a divergent use.

Results of brainstorming (with self):

After receiving the assignment, my initial idea was to utilise a set of headphones (the kind used for listening to music) as a compact hanging basket with self-watering arrangement. However, during my 45 minute walk home, I developed a different idea which appealed to me more…

Roadkill Recombinator
Draft mockup of Roadkill Recombinator instructions

The Roadkill Recombinator made use of an old-style manual mincing machine but in a novel way. Rather than the input being leftover cooked meat, the Recombinator took pre-processed roadkill (in the form of ‘mince’) and produced, via a selection dial, a range of formed cuts of meat, such as chicken breast, leg of lamb, etc.

Development of this idea progressed slowly and during the process of putting together the instructional image, I began to doubt whether the originality of the idea was enough to meet the criteria of the assignment.

Results of brainstorming with partner:

During a period of mental downtime, I was browsing Facebook and happened to see a video clip which inspired me to start brainstorming another alternative idea (this time with my partner). The result of this idea generation can be seen here:

Pizza Jockey initial ideas
Pizza Jockey initial ideas

Innovation and Creativity:

The Pizza Jockey takes a standard turntable (record player) and re-purposes it as a domestic appliance and labour-saving ‘must-have’ that can be used to make pizza bases. Many of the features of the turntable have been incorporated into the overall divergent use of the device. For example:

  • The rubber platter of the turntable (on which the vinyl would sit) becomes a non-stick, silicone platter for the pizza dough.
  • The centre spindle of the turntable helps to locate and hold the blob of dough securely as it spins.
  • The RPM speed selector doubles as a pizza base size selector (the higher the speed, the greater the centrifugal force generated and the greater the diameter of the pizza  base).
  • A stylus arm controls allow selection of pizza base depth
  • The transparent lid (or hood) of the turntable allows the user to monitor the progress of their pizza base while preventing possible spillage from flying dough.

After discussion of a number of ideas for names and accessories, different models and marketing phrases, etc., the above features were incorporated into an instructional image:

Finished instructional document
Finished instructional document

Pizza Jockey can, potentially, still function as a perfectly good record player and so there are opportunities for a dual-purpose device (albeit with highly divergent uses). This is partly why I felt inclined to retain the RPM speeds on the size selector dial which has no relevance to the pizza base functionality of the technology.

Analysis and Critical Evaluation:

The path taken to reach the final image could be summarised as follows:

  • Initial idea considered immediately after receiving assignment brief
  • Initial idea disregarded in favour of a preferred concept
  • Development of initial Roadkill Recombinator mock-up with no brainstorming
  • Failure of inspiration/doubt surrounding meeting assignment brief
  • Inspiration for third idea followed by verbal brainstorming with results recorded and developed as a sketches/notes.
  • Development, production and refinement of final image

The above points highlight the value of considering a number of ideas and the usefulness of bouncing ideas off another person, developing concepts and features and visualising them in a physical form (sketches and notes) before sitting down at the computer to start the design. Recognising bad ideas, future developments and the constraints of time is useful to prevent scope creep and to focus effort on both meeting and completing the assignment brief.

Technical Competence:

The aim of the image is to provide an attractive, informative and easy-to-use  quick-start guide for the purchaser of the Pizza Jockey. To that end, a simple five-step, start-to-finish process was illustrated. Not only was the purchaser guided through the making of a pizza base, but the benefits and advantages of the device’s features are highlighted. Fictional trademarks and promotional language deliver a feel-good factor to the user whilst appropriately establishing a somewhat ‘dated’ context to the illustration.

The image was created using Adobe Illustrator with a combination of traced photos, images composed of largely geometric shapes and text. The style adopted aims to be simple and instructional. The textual elements were designed to be both instructional and promotional, whilst not overwhelming the reader with lots to read. The colour scheme was based on the colours of the Italian flag with a background designed to complement the main messages and reflect the colour of a pizza base.

Impact:

As a labour-saving device for the home, there are a number of groups that could be impacted by a device such as Pizza Jockey.

Firstly, the consumer, freed from the drudgery of hand-making pizza bases, is afforded more time to pursue other activities or pastimes. Interest in other labour-saving cooking appliances might be piqued, leading to possible acquisition of these goods. Consideration should be given, however, to the useful lifespan of such devices. After an initial honeymoon period, the Pizza Jockey might soon join the ranks of the Breville sandwich toaster and SodaStream at the back of the kitchen cupboard.

The stay-at-home pizza base maker is likely to impact the pre-made pizza base retail market. With less demand for off-the-shelf pizza bases, shops and supermarkets would experience a drop in sales of such items. In turn, it’s conceivable that the consumer might further their culinary creativity by creating entire pizzas at home with consequent impact on both take away pizza outlets and retailers.

Possible future product development

  • Heated baking platter to cook pizza base
  • Safety considerations – device will not operate until hood is closed
  • Application/cooking of toppings
  • Personalised platters – with, perhaps, your favourite artist depicted
  • Pizza Jukebox for multiple pizza base production

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