A smart plate

Last year, I had written about a clever design idea by the Bangkok-based agency CJ WORX for their client, Thai Health Promotion Foundation.

The client wanted to remind people in Thailand to consciously reduce the intake of salt, for health reasons. Simply offering them a smaller spoon wasn’t going to help – people would use the spoon multiple times!

So the agency came up with the idea of a spoon with a hole! It was an ingenious, counter-intuitive idea that used smart design to make the intake reduction automatic and thoughtless! The spoon does the reduction even as you do not need to do anything.

In a similar vein, European fresh vegetables and fruits processor HAK recently got the agency DDB Unlimited and researchers at the Dutch University of Wageningen to think about how to make children eat more fresh vegetables.

Now, to even get the children to eat a small quantity of vegetables is a chore. So even when you convince them to sit in front of a plate of vegetables, they are bound to negotiate and bargain how much they want to eat.

So, this effort by HAK ended up creating a plate that could make children eat more vegetables almost thoughtlessly.

Like the spoon with a hole, this is a plate with a holeā€¦ rather, an indentation! That indentation stealthily hides more vegetables even without the kids noticing, because it resides almost as a hidden part of the plate without calling for attention.

Of course, some smart kids are bound to get curious and find out the trick, but by and large, this is a clever idea, in principle.

There are a couple of other thoughtful ideas in the plate, including the Delboeuf illusion, an optical illusion whereby the plate is designed slightly larger than normal children’s plate sizes and hence makes the amount of vegetables in its seem lesser when compared to a standard-sized plate.

The Delboeuf illusion has been researched in the context of food servings and overeating, including with alcohol and glass shapes and sizes. For instance a taller, thinner glass seems to contain more liqid to us than a short, wide glass… and creates an impression that we’re getting our money’s worth in a taller glass fully filled, as against a small, wider glass half-filled.

Clever use of design for a useful outcome!

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