Loku: Building an Appetite for Cultural Curiosity

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Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Location:
P1 OPINNÄYTTEET D 2016 Lee
Date
2016
Department
Major/Subject
Mcode
Degree programme
Graphic Design
Language
en
Pages
153
Series
Abstract
This thesis investigates how food can play an important role in inciting dialogue between natives and immigrants of Helsinki. A strong desire to learn about people from different cultural backgrounds can trigger dialogue and empathy. Such an attitude can encourage a myriad of social interactions and is referred to as cultural curiosity. The thesis tries to answer the research question - how might we encourage cultural curiosity and create a shared sense of belonging for the people of Helsinki. The study follows a User Centered Design (UCD) approach to build a platform to enhance cross cultural interactions. The study begins by engaging and understanding potential user groups through conversations, interviews and workshops. Next, it analyses existing services where food is used as a driver for initiating cultural curiosity. Learnings from the research and analysis were supported with a literature review on related subjects, to identify the problem/opportunity areas. The knowledge gathered serves as a framework for prototyping and testing the proposed service concept: Loku. The design process culminated in the creation of a digital app which intends to brings people together over complimentary food passions. It taps into existing physical and digital social habits, customizing events to a user’s motivation, needs and wants. It addresses specific opportunities identified during the study, namely 1. Tackling Stereotypes: Loku users are represented by their food interests rather than their ethnicity, which can pique curiosity. 2. Cultivating social habits: Through proactive and customized invitations, Loku can make attending local food events a habit. 3. Bringing multiple stakeholders together: Loku brings people, markets, kitchens and communities onto one platform in unique ways that encourage collaborations and cultural dialogue. This study validates that food can be an effective tool to foster cultural curiosity among our focus group of students and young professionals in Helsinki. Further, this concept has the potential to incorporate the needs of a wider user base. To conclude, Loku supports the creation of a shared and rich culture in Helsinki - one meal at a time.
Description
The thesis has two authors
Supervisor
Dodson, Zach
Thesis advisor
Fossa, Veronica
Keywords
cultural curiosity, service design, digital service, food culture
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