Kitchen, Food, and Family


Design Strategy, Research

How might we help college students understand the basic of personal finance?

Korean home appliances gained fame in the Chinese market. Midea, a Chinese home appliance company, requested to come up with innovative design ideas to Korea University. My teammates and I gathered and developed experience scenarios. We conducted research on both China and Korea to understand their eating culture and formulate patterns of their dietary lives. We also compared them to merge design ideas, find meaningful insights, and create user scenarios. We decided to compare the research findings to boost so that we can highlight the differences and draw meaningful insights.

1. User Research

REsearch: AEIOU analysis

We researched to understand more about eating culture in both countries. We visited three families of each Korean and Chinese by observing the process of preparing their meal, dining, and interviewed them for 30 minutes to 1 hour after the observing process. We also researched groceries and home appliance markets for further knowledge of ingredients and home appliances. Here is the discipline for the research process.

Research findings of Korean dining process

Research findings of Chinese dining process

02. Experience Definition

KJ MAPPING: Affinity Diagram of proximity

In each of the findings that we framed in the AEIOU framework, we extracted keywords. After that, we wrote down every keyword to the sticky notes. We mapped based on the proximity of the relevancy of each keyword. This process is long since we had to attach and detach the sticky notes every time we try to put a new one. Here is the discipline in the defining process.

KJ MAP of research keywords in korea

Post-it is arranged naturally according to the proximity. We defined the area based on the contents and defined as below. .

Enjoy Well-being
For most Koreans, 'well-being' is a very friendly and familiar term. Koreans prefer plain dishes such as raw vegetables, while the concept of 'well-being' also works as an essential factor when choosing groceries.

For the kids, by the kids, of the kids
Korean parents are willing to adjust their lives for their children. However, when it comes to food, two types eating styles were spotted. Korean parents tries to prepare healthy and nutritious meals for their children, but when they are busy, they have no choice but to feed their children with fast food. 

Double income, no cooking
As for a dual-income couple, they often buy ready-to-eat food or eat out because they don't have enough time to cook a proper meal. Unlike in the past, the number of fathers who participate in grocery shopping or cooking is increasing.

Efficient use of space
One of the unique characteristics of Korean kitchens is the abundance of storage space. Regardless of the size of the kitchen, homemakers wish to utilize the storage spaces as much as possible. They also prefer hiding appliances that are not frequently used so that they could maintain the kitchen neat.

Keep me out of germs!
The kitchen always has to be clean since the room works both as a cooking and a dining area. Also, people tend to use water purifier, boiled water, and ceramic plates to stay free of germs. Due to numerous cleaning needed in the kitchen, people also prefer products that are easy to clean.

Cook fast & easy!
Because of the westernization of the lives of many Koreans and the increasing number of dual-income families, people favor simple cooking.  The decreasing amount of homemade meals led the appliances to be smaller, while simple sub-appliances such as blender and juicer have been widely adopted.

Not just a kitchen
Korean style kitchens are expected to perform various functions in the future. When not used as a cooking area, the kitchen could be a place for reading and talking. It could even be a place for the couple to drink a cup of wine or cocktail.

Store, Store, and Store
Similar to Kim-chi, a lot of Korean dishes are preserving food. On this account, Koreans have a high tendency to store food in big refrigerators. They even buy a ‘Kim-chi’ refrigerator, which is very efficient in many ways.

KJ MAP of research keywords in china

Greasy, Oily
Strong heating power of the stove makes oil in the wok spatter. As a result, people in the kitchen tend to avoid the danger of getting burned. Hood in China is always turned on because of smoky, oily air. As their cooking method creates  dirts, they clean their kitchen frequently. Also to cut grease, they prefer to use a dish sterilizer and a dish washer.

Typical Chinese(BIG Wok for ALL)
China has its own unique eating culture. They prefer big Chinese wok with dynamic motion and use a knife with a fixed cutting board. The primary cooking appliance is a stove, but they use induction as a secondary stove for steaming and boiling.

OBEY Little Emperors!
The Chinese cherish their little siblings. They cook steamed food for their child’s nutrition and give preferential treatment to their children. There are a variety of kitchen and home appliances on the market for their baby.

Microwave the new wave
Microwaving cooking is becoming a new trend in China. Some of them think that since it uses much oil, that can cause disease. But with a microwave, they can reduce much oil. They used to utilize it when they heat dim sum, soup, and left food. However, since microwave foods are launching to the market, we can see the various possibility of unique cooking methods and appliances coming to the limelight.

Separated Kitchen & Dining
Contrary to the kitchen and dining place are together in Korea, China has separated it since there is a bunch of dirt happening when cooking. The kitchen and dining place will be highly specialized in each purpose. Even though they separated the kitchen, the kitchen still becomes an unsanitary place. Also, the small kitchen makes them utilize the space wisely.

Wellcome Well-being
China may be on the verge of WELL-BEING for a healthy eating life. They want to reduce oil use and avoid animal fat. Still, they are proud of their traditional food and believe the food contains various nutrients. They think traditional food is a way for their healthy life.

Family Gathering a lot
Modern Chinese society is becoming more individualized and busy. Even though the Chinese don't have enough time, they try to gather for breakfast and dinner. We can see the Chinese strong family relationship and family-centered eating culture. The dining table, family gathering spot, will play a role as a variety of functions for the family relationship.

Chinalized Eating Style
China started to embrace western culture. But at lease in foodwise, they maintain their way compared to Korea. Fast foods are localized, and the people eat most of their meals with traditional Chinese cuisine. We can easily assume that modern home appliances should be adjusted for the Chinese for efficiency.

03. Comparison

Key findings from kj mapping

Based on the insights we drew, we compared the similarities and differences of Korean and Chinese dining culture. This process also work as a narrowing process to draw the meaningful insights and prioritize.

How efficient but differently

  • Two cultures are experiencing kitchen spaces differently 
  • Both are struggling with the efficiency of space uses
  • Koreans tend to hide things away where Chinese expose and display them
  • Korean kitchens expand to living room spaces where Chinese kitchen are separated to cooking and dining areas
  • Korean kitchens are becoming more than just kitchens, They become living room, playroom, study room and more.​

Eating habit changed, usage of appliances either 

  • Westernized food culture affects two cultures
  • Still trying to stay on the traditions, Chinese come up with wise ways to utilize microwave ovens and other heating appliances
  • That way, they struggle to stay on “Chinalized” way of eating habits
  • Koreans put more emphasis on how fast and easy to cook
  • That is caused by social changes that all family members work and have little time to cook

Well-being life but differently

  • Both cultures take health more seriously these days
  • Chinese just begin to realize their traditional eating habits are not very healthy
  • Having a variety of foods, natural ingredients
  • Koreans tend to be more interested in diet and harmless foods
  • Considering fats, chemicals and not to break freshness of food materials by cooking

Children centered products are popular

  • Both cultures are much interested in how to raise their children
  • Both take much care about nutrition in different ways
  • Baby-specific appliances and functions are popular in Korea where not in China
  • More individualized Koreans
  • Big family gathering more appreciated in China

Not sanitized enough

  • Chinese only use their kitchen for cooking compared to Koreans use it for multi-purpose. That leads them to clean less.
  • Greasy and oily cooking culture require it more
  • Although most of the Chinese families have sterilizer, its actual usage is not often and rarely effective.

04. Idea development

Brainstorming and group ideation

On each of the insights, we brainstormed and came up with various ideas.

05. Persona & Scenario


  • Organize numerous product ideas to derive a few refined ones
  • Combine related ideas / refine good ones / develop to better ones
  • Create scenarios possible with the solutions
  • Focus on what people experience or how people’s experiences can change

Persona & Scenario #1

Persona & Scenario #2

Persona & Scenario #3


  • Application of design methodology to various challenges
  • There are no answers regarding applying methodologies, but contextually
  • Extracting the essence of scattered information needs various process itself if the chunk is too big
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© Cheon Park 2020