Designing the Next- generation School Cafeteria

Design Research And Visual Design

Instructors: George Aye & Tim Parsons


Our connection to food runs deep. It can have a profound impact on our self-image, our understanding of resources and our health. The battleground where these early food impressions are formed is our public school cafeteria. Taking a holistic, child-centered approach, this class researched and designed a new cafeteria for a CPS elementary school that makes healthy food choices obvious, connects farms to food and reintroduces healthy living throughout school life.

This class was a multi-disciplinary, team-based project for students with interest in user-centered research methods, architecture and interior architecture, design strategy, public policy, education, environmental graphics, visual communications, service design, iterative prototyping, large-scale systems thinking and product design. A range of design solutions was explored from full-scale cafeteria environments, new child-advocacy roles, meal preparation work flows and environmental graphics that make healthy food choices easy for children, parents, schools and food service providers.

This is a group project I participated in when I was a student at SAIC. My main role was working with other classmates to do design research. After the research was completed, I worked as a part of the visual design team to design the Food Explorer Passport and the Food Portfolio.