University Honors Program Distinction
When: January - May 2019 | Where: Northeastern University, Boston, MA
This project was my Honors Interdisciplinary Thesis during my final semester at Northeastern. It combines my passion for healthcare with my love of food, in an exploration of how cooking and community could positively impact the experience of a prolonged hospital stay. I worked on this project independently with the support of my advisors: professors Mark Sivak and Lorna Hayward.
I began by taking stock of the existing research around the connection between food and health in a hospital setting.
I created a stakeholder map to understand the various needs and motivations in the system and completed exercises to generate and group my ideas, ultimately landing on the concept of a community-oriented restaurant in the hospital.
I developed a concept with two main facets:
I considered different family situations:
I also put an extremely strong focus on accessibility
Once it was decided that the best experience for patrons of The Gathering Plate would be to center the experience around the kitchen, the architecture began to come together.
With the kitchen at the middle of the room, the seating rises in layers around it, allowing everyone to view the kitchen, no matter where they are sitting.
Despite my focus being more in UX and strategy, I wanted to provide a brand voice for the concept.
My intention for the brand was for it to strike a balance between adult vs. child and playful vs. sophisticated. I wanted the brand to reflect the values of locally sourced ingredients and sustainablility, while still being accessible to children, which is why I added the color in a way that reflects somewhat of a "coloring book" feel.
The culmination of this work was distilled into a website and a paper summarizing my work. While a project of this magnitude certainly needs more than 3 months to develop, this was a great first exploration into the concept. I'm still extremely interested in the interplay of health, hospital experience, and food, and I've continued to pursue these questions in my work at Boston Children's Hospital.
This project, though entirely conceptual, showed me that there are huge opportunities in combining healthcare and food. It inspired me to think outside the box and imagine a patient experience that could exist in the future. I also got to explore more about food systems and, more specifically, the ins and outs of restaurant design.