Allergies challenging restaurants by open design

During the last years, restaurants have been undergoing a sort of “maquillage”.

There has been an improvement in variety and design of food and interiors, while services and customers have been standardized to fit a “glamour” experience of dining out. In fact, the development of the attention to the detail of what is being offered in the menus changed definitely the way we eat out of home. Nowadays, eating in a restaurant is seen and lived not only as a way to satisfy biological needs and to spend own leisure time or to break from work at lunchtime, but as a “trendy” form of experience and entertainment.

The space-time we spend in restaurants can be understood as a network of symbols, matter (edible or not) and relationships. All this appears as a system that works well, satisfies us, but that to tell the truth we are actually satisfying.

If the quantity of products in the portions has considerably reduced, it is often the form or combination of extreme attention to quality and taste that rules. That is, we are often in the presence of a inconsistent innovation in forms and colors, in the ways of presenting food, at the expense of a needed revolution that should have included attention to the specific needs of the pluralism of the customers.

A revolution in care of the customers as eaters.

Restaurants should inter operate today with cultures, beliefs, personal needs. Unfortunately, all these elements are excluded a priori in the construction of the professional identity of chefs and in the management of the cuisine experience we live any time we enter in one of such wonderful temples of taste.

This is the scenario from which the Maker in residence activity of Monica and Nicoletta, two designers of Vicenza, started their interesting and useful project named Allergo Kì.

Please, read more about the project Allergo Kì

The first peculiar aspect of the Allergo Kì project is to present the theme of allergies in the context of the restaurants not as a problem, but as a solution. Daily troubles experienced by eaters with allergies is still lived by restaurants as a temporary incident that should not happen and that is an exceptional need.

Allergo Kì makes a philosophy centered on the inclusion of customers with allergies. The experience for those who are sensitive to certain foods should be designed and included in the catering facilities also to promote and facilitate the social life of citizens with allergies. At play there is a power dynamic based on inclusion/exclusion, transforming the theme of allergies into a problem of food rights. Another fundamental theme is the one of identity, since having allergies can not be considered something that is not inherent in daily, relational, personal life.

The solution offered by Allergo Kì is deployed in the materiality of the physical details of a device (round place card) and symbolism for a guided experience for both the customer and the operator, waiter, chef, etc. This leads to rethink the experience by overcoming the lack of information and knowledge by integrating it with the round place card that has the most comprehensive and complex representation in the classification and ad hoc symbols of allergies.


Thank you @federico_monaco for your excellent review!
We are working hard and in September we are going to organize a Design Thinking meeting with a group of restaurateurs and their staff.
We think that the Design Thinking method is the right way to create empathize and define or reframes the problem in human-centric way. Please, follow and support us!

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