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Your Sandwich Assembly Line 

Kitchen Sandwich Assembly Line

The Forge

     Members of modern society live a fast pace of life, cooking and eating food have become something not necessary in daily life. The design criteria of this IHSS-2610 PDI Studio 3 course project addressed such problems. The Forge is a kitchen aid for facilitating the making of sandwiches. The product is designed to redefine the sandwich making procedure as a social communal bonding time for potential users that live in a fast pace life. In this project, we were given the task of designing a product that "helps me make sandwiches" using the design language and "deconstruction reconstruction" philosophy of the iconic designer dual Ayse Birsel and Bibi Seck. With the requirements in mind, The Forge was created towards that product opportunity gap through the product development process. 

Project Type /

Product Design

PDI Studio Course Work

Role /

POG Research

Ethnographic Research

Concept Design

Year /


"Helps me make sandwiches..."

Ethnographic Research

To answer the question, it is important to understand the "me" and "sandwiches" in the problem phrase: who is making the sandwich? Why is he/she making the sandwich? How would he/she make that sandwich? What is the sandwich that he/she needs help in making? Why sandwiches? What special characteristic does a sandwich have? Explorations to these questions eventually lead us to the SET analysis for this product opportunity gap. 




College Student
Age: 19
  • Lives in a school residence hall where he shares a kitchen with his friends.

  • Very busy with school works during the semester. 

  • Usually eat at the school dining hall, sometimes would make some simple foods with friends during the weekend. 



Product Designer
Age: 28
  • Lives in a rented apartment with several roommates. 

  • As a full-time product designer in a big company, he tends to spend more time working than at staying home. 

  • Often live with fast foods because over time for him is kind of normal. 



IBD Executive Director
Age: 31
  • As a white-collar in a large city, she has a luxurious apartment just for herself. 

  • There is no-off time. She is on the work 24/7, no matter in the office or at home.

  • Sometimes would invite friends and colleagues to come over to her place and through a little home party with them. 


Relatively healthier compare to other fast foods. 

A popular fast food.

Kind of fun to make by piling up layers and toasts. 


No standard. You can customize your own.

Not complicated to cook.

They are tasty!

Do not need intensive preparation.

SET Analysis

  • Modern days, people live a fast pace of life. Many people spend less and less time on cooking every day. 

  • Enjoying meals has become not only a physiological need but also a social event. 

  • Society started to pay attention to healthy diets. Customized sandwiches have become a popular food among people. 

  • People rather spend more money buying their food than cook themselves. 

  • Society starts to invest in a healthier lifestyle. 

  • Bulk package products are very cheap in large supermarkets such as Walmart, many people prefer to buy grocery in bulks from these places and do a Sunday meal prep.  

  • The function of the kitchen has changed over the years. It does not merely function as a cooking facility anymore but also serves as a social place in households. 

  • The development of 3D printing and other additive manufacturing technologies provides more opportunities in the shape and form of products. Many new kitchen aids are created using these technologies. 

Design Criteria

The task requires using the design language and philosophy of the Birsel + Seck, a New York based human-centered design and innovation studio found by Turkish designer Ayse Birsel and Senegalese designer Bibi Seck. Birsel and Seck describe their own design process as "Deconstruction and Reconstruction", all of their design works followed the process more or less. 


Birsel + Seck:


and the New Africa

Design Philosophy: Deconstruction Reconstruction 

屏幕快照 2020-10-16 上午12.33.47.png
01. Deconstruct
Deconstruct the current experience and status quo. 
02. POV
Shift the POV to re-imagine a new experience. 
03. Reconstruct
Reconstruct the experience into a hierarchy of their most desired wants and needs.
04. Expression
Express as a new experience.
* Courtesy of Birsel + Seck

Design Language: the New Africa

The style Birsel + Seck used in their work is often described as "New Africa" (Amida Korma). Their work often features smooth curves, bright color combinations, and repeated rhombus, square, or triangle shape circled by wide black lines as a salute to traditional African culture.


Moodboard created for Birsel + Seck works

Our Deconstruction Reconstruction

Following Birsel + Seck's design philosophy, we also deconstructed the current experience of making a sandwich that we identified from ethnographic research mentioned above, shifted our point of view, and eventually reconstructed as our new problem space.

Concept Generation


Kinda wasting time

They are tasty


I hate to cook just for myself

Sandwichs are fast!

I don't know how to cook

I rather use this time do other things

It's fun to make!

Sunday meal prep!

Enjoy catching up with friends once in a while

I could only cook during weekends

Cooking by myself is boring

I would invite my friends over and cook together

  • How can we make making a sandwich handier?

  • How can we make the process more engaging?

  • How can we make the sandwich preparation time as a social communal time?

Concept Generation

Following our design criteria, man solutions were generated through brainstorming. Some of them were made into prototypes.


Concept 1


Concept 2


Concept 3

Final Concept

The second concept --- the sandwich assembly line eventually stood out after a small scale stakeholder testing on campus. Its multiple features addressed problems identified during the ethnographic research, while embodied Birsel + Seck's "New African" design language at the same time. 

Each container holds one specific material for a sandwich. Toasts, lettuce, tomato slices, hams, you name it. 

Users work their way down the "assembly line", pile a new material at each stop, "assemble" your own customized sandwich.


The set allows a group of friends to work together, quickly make many sandwiches while socializing at the same time.  

Color and aesthetic embodied Birsel + Seck's "New Africa" design language. 


The Physical Food

Process of Making Sandwich:

The Social Food

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