Four Corners is an immersive restaurant experience with a rotating culture theme.
Immigrants often struggle to overcome cultural barriers when building social relationships. However, sharing different food traditions allows people to open up about their own cultures and themselves.
That’s why I designed Four Corners: Global Food Experience, to create opportunities for cultural and personal sharing, thereby fostering stronger social relationships and feelings of belonging.
After studying and working abroad for 9 months, I noticed some inherent biases and strained relationships that people had towards those of neighboring countries. I saw a huge opportunity to apply design principles to navigate cultural barriers and overcome biases.
I spent my co-op working in Crete, Greece.
Each person has a different framework of knowledge, norms, and traditions, shaped by the culture they grew up in. They communicate with different languages, behaviors, gestures, and understandings. When people from different cultures interact, there can be a disconnect in these basic understandings, which is known as culture shock or cultural barriers.
Through initial investigations, I found that immigrants face cultural barriers on a daily basis. Therefore, I wanted to explore some of their current challenges and solutions. I interviewed experts, talked to immigrants of all ages and backgrounds, and conducted several design research activities.
Cultural sharing promotes deeper
understanding and connection.
Immigrants want to share their culture.
Food helps people share culture and
create stronger social relationships.
How can I use food to bring people of diverse backgrounds together?
I used this question to guide my concept brainstorming, and then obtained feedback from interviewing participants.
After getting feedback on several rounds of ideation, I found that immigrants’ needs would best be met by the following concept:
An immersive restaurant experience through which participants can explore a featured food culture.
Food acts as a gateway into culture and personal experiences.
Featured culture changes throughout year to represent many cultures.
Activities encourage personal and cultural sharing to strengthen relationships.
Prototyping and Validation
For the sample design, I worked with South Indian immigrants to determine what key aspects of culture needed to be present in the restaurant and exhibit. I built out both the flow and visual aspects of the experience.
User Interface Design
Create a mobile app that complements the physical experience and creates a sense of cohesion between all stages. The interface should provide a second level of information and interaction throughout the experience.
Simple and Understandable
The interface needs to compliment the physical experience without overwhelming the user
The visual design should communicate the themes of diversity, culture, and cuisine in a compelling way that brings delight to the experience.
The mobile app should add additional components to the experience that couldn’t be obtained from the physical exhibit alone. The app should provide users with value even after they have left the restaurant.
During earlier stages of the project I created these graphics for physical Conversation Cards. Participants said the designs were engaging, provided insight into the culture, and easily understandable.
After deciding to make a mobile app, I used these designs as a visual guide for the interface and interactions.
Prototyping and User Testing
I began to build out the Task Flows and Wireframes for app use during the dining experience and after the user has left. Despite COVID-19, I was able to receive a lot of feedback through online surveys and usability tests to see which mental models worked best for ingredient organization and layout.
Combining Physical + Digital
Final UI and Experience Design
I hope that this project inspires you to open your mind and heart to those that are different than you and to celebrate different traditions, values, beliefs. Before judging another, try to put yourself in their shoes and truly understand their story. Diversity is what makes our world stronger and more beautiful.
Thank you for viewing my senior thesis project!
I was born and raised in Southern California, where I was heavily influenced by the incredible diversity, fine arts scene, and spirit of adventure. I have a passion for global thinking, sustainability, and nature inspired concepts.