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Designed to be Inconspicuous – Universal Kitchen Aid 

Cooking is a much-loved activity for all people around the world. On average we particularly spend 1-2 hours of our day either cooking or prepping food of some kind if we include breakfast lunch and dinner. You will notice, usually when prepping food our thought process is spent more on what ingredients will be needed to make a recipe, rather than the utensils that will be needed during the preparation of our meal itself.

Think about it for a second. Usually, in every household, you will have a knife, fork, spoon and bowl right? We usually don’t go looking to see if we have those items in stock. But what about the most important tool of all our hands? Without our hands, these utensils become practically useless.

Yet has it ever crossed your mind, what would happen if one day you were to suddenly lose your mobility to use your hands? What will be the sort of challenges you would face when cooking a meal?

Well, the Magnetic Co-board – is a universal cooking board holder that addresses this very real challenge several people face daily. The design assists any individual with limited mobility to keep the cooking bowl stationary when mixing ingredients. Allowing the user to be able to cook independently with one hand and without the aid of another person.

A simple solution that creates a base for a bowl to remain stationary – a base that looks very ambiguous at first glance.

Design Team

Desiree Riny, Brendan Lim, Steph Porrino

Desiree Riny
Close up of Magnetic Co-Board
Close up Shot

Desiree Riny
Final Assembly of Magnetic Co-Board
For the Magnetic Co-board to work, we welded several sheet of thin metal on the underside of several size stainless steel bowls to allow the bowl itself to magnetize to the base .

Desiree Riny
Close up of Magnetic Co-Board
The base itself is assembled together with several pieces of laminated laser cut acrylic sheets, which is held together with stainless steel screws.

Desiree Riny
Close up of Stainless Steel Bowl
Each Stainless steel bowl, has welded steel plate attached at the bottom.

Desiree Riny
First Prototype
This was our first prototype. There was alot of iterations and design thinking involved in how many layer made up the base – according how much movement it gave when our ‘ need knower ‘ interacted with the device. For example if there was more movement in a certain direction when mixing, we decided there was the need for more magnets .

Desiree Riny
Magnetic Co-board
Final Product Shot

Desiree Riny
Section View
Section View of Magnetic Co-board

Steph Porrino
Technical Drawing
Final Technical Drawing of Magnetic Co-Board Assembly

Desiree Riny
Magnetic Co-board
In context

TOM: Melbourne
Team Acess
Co-designing with Team Access

TOM : Melbourne
Presenting Design To TOM : Melbourne
Design team presenting our device to TOM: Melbourne after 48 hours of co-designing with our ‘ need knower ‘ .

TOM : Melbourne
Team Access

The Magnetic Co-Board was born from the yearly TOM: Melbourne make-athon that co-designs with a community of people to develop affordable assistive technology in Melbourne, Australia.

TOM: Melbourne is an organization that works with a community of people to create and build products that improve the lives of people with a disability, where there may not have a current solution in the market. They ” focus on making assistive technology more accessible and affordable for people with complex needs”. They are a part of a global TOM community of 63 communities in 21 countries.

Usually, the make-athon works with a person ” with a disability who have a specific need (‘need knowers’) and connects them with a diverse group of professionals, including engineers, health care workers and industrial designers ” (people like me) to help co-design together to develop a product for any problem they may face.

This year I was a part of Team Access ! Our given challenge was to develop a device that enables an individual to keep a cooking bowl stationary, whilst they are mixing ingredients. Like any assistive device, we had a set of design specifications that needed to address our need-knower needs.

Some of these design challenges included:

– The device could be used without thinking

-The base of the bowl remained stationary

– Universally fits any bench or table

– The device can be set up independently without assistance

– Can be easily be mass produced for several people

– Material can be easily washed and sterilized

– Can be adjusted to different size bowls

– The device does not single out the user

With these considerations in mind, and only 48 hours on the clock to develop such a device. My design team came up with a solution that resembles a base that houses a set of magnets and weights together to keep a bowl stationary.

It is assembled simply from several layers of laser-cut 3mm of Acrylic sheets, laminated together with stainless screws – to help strategically encase a set of magnets and a weighted plate. The stainless steel bowl that will then be used on the base itself, on the bottom has a steel strip that was cut and welded into place for it to magnetize into position ( exactly like the magnetic strip you place at the back of an iPhone holder).

A simple solution, right? A solution that purposely draws inspiration from a magnetic phone holder that is universally used in cars – was our catalyst of ideas on how we approach this problem. It also intentionally helped to address the most challenging design consideration overall. That the design itself didn’t’ resemble a device that would function to assist someone, but rather resembles another universal tool that can be found in any kitchen or mirror a shape of another tool such as a chopping board .

Like any assistive device that has made a significant impact in history – your first prototype from the beginning almost always looks like something from a wood workshop but this is the first design product that I have worked on that almost resembles a final product that you would find in a kitchen.

The design worked seamlessly when we tested it with our need knower, in fact the device itself went as far to also address food safety standards to be used in an industrial kitchen. For example the colour of the base is interchangeable to resemble the colour of foods used in the kitchen eg green for veggies or red for meat . Our team even took it a step forward to ensure device had a sustainable life cycle – by allowing the device itself to be able to be dissembled, so parts of the device itself can be cleaned separately for use, or perhaps replaced over time .

Like any product though, the first iteration is never the last, and if I could make changes or refinements for the future. I would love to laminate the base without the use of a screw and bolt. In future it would benefit to use something that is more accessible for someone with limited motor skills, to allow them to take it apart easier. In conclusion, I think our design team did a great job to fulfil the TOM: Melbourne’s brief to develop something functional at the end of the two day event and allowed our need knower to cook independently.

I think that is what’s the most empowering thing that I could witness as a designer – you get to return the humanity of someone’s ability to simply enjoy life again, through a solution that allows doing everyday tasks much easier. Tasks as individuals that can be challenging for others, such as putting your shoes on independently, brushing your teeth, or even cooking for yourself. Which we certainly take for granted and don’t give much thought to sometimes.

TOM: Melbourne is an incredible and innovative organization, and I would encourage anyone in their community to volunteer. Not only are you creating a device for an individual but a community of others that may be experiencing a similar problem. As the product is not only developed for an individual at the end of the day but because the technical drawings and plans for that product are also shared online amongst a global community – which therefore someone else can produce or re-design for their own needs.

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