Posts tagged “refrigerator”

Cupcake Take: Steve

Broken fridge, San Diego, July 2010

Imagine running a commercial kitchen that produces your flagship product. What do you do when a key piece of equipment breaks? While there was probably some freaking out, this gourmet cupcake shop found a necessarily-small-business solution: move everything to a new refrigerator, in this case, the beverage cooler right inside the front door. Doing this effectively brought the backstage into the frontstage. Not only is there transparency here about their process of making cupcakes (as Julie describes here), they are also transparent about their challenges in running a small business. While companies like Google can get away with the Beta label currying forgiveness for the not-ready-for-prime-time-but-we’ll-use-it-anyway-for-free line of products, we probably wouldn’t be charmed by a sticky note on a broken server that contains our data. Some things are mission critical, but having to reach around some eggs to get my can of Mountain Dew isn’t one of them. It’s kinda fun and surprising to see the backstage appear frontstage (see the kitchen design at In-N-Out Burger) and charming that this business could take what was nominally a failure and create a gentle celebration around it.

Also see: Vodafone celebrates construction around their retail outlets here and a far less celebratory sign from the same store here.

Cupcake Take: Julie

We believe in the power of transparency at many different levels. We regularly advise our clients to leverage transparency as a design strategy. Over the years, our research repeatedly shows that people are more comfortable when they know where their stuff comes from, what’s in it, and who’s making it, and that this comfort leads to good things like loyalty, brand affinity, adoption.

Transparency around gadgets is getting some attention these days. Some of the spotlight has been focused on

While our shiny devices have made our individual worlds more transparent through features such as GPS, augmented reality and user reviews, the devices themselves still feel magical. Their origins and inner workings are utterly mysterious. As our relationships with these devices deepen, as a culture we are becoming more interested in what we’re consuming.

Take a look at how transparency feels in this much lower-tech analog: gourmet cupcakes. At a cupcake shop in San Diego, ingredients were featured rather than hidden because of a refrigerator malfunction. The backstage became front-and-center, as Steve talks about here.

As a customer, it felt great to have a window into the process, in a kind of “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” way. Gourmet cupcakes are made of the same things we use at home! Wholesome! Recognizable! Comforting! Trustworthy. When I took a bite of the finished product my enjoyment was subtly enhanced by knowing what I was sinking my teeth into.

Transparency as a policy is risky in some cases, of course. Knowing more about my cupcake felt good; finding out about what’s inside my iPhone is not producing those same reassuring feelings!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Mark Menjivar's You Are What You Eat – Set of naturalistic images of inside of refrigerators, with brief profile of the owner. Beautifully done.
  • Rollasole – after-dancing semisposable shoe vending – Fact 1: The best nightclubs are notoriously located at either the top or the bottom of a massive flight of stairs.
    Fact 2: The best nightclub shoes are painful, precarious and perilously pointy.
    But fear not, for we at Rollasole have appeared like Prince Charmings (sic) to gently escort you down the stairs, across the kerb and into the back of your carriage – all without falling on your face.
    When you're all danced out, just slip one of our vending machines a fiver and it'll sort you out with a pair of roly poly pumps and a shiny new bag to shove your slingbacks in.

    (via Springwise)

  • Legendary McDonald's failure in the UK – McPloughman – Although vegetarian burgers have failed in the U.S. McDonald's, one of McDonald's most spectacular production failures happened in Britain. This failure can be seen not only as a failure to understand the desires of its primary market, largely for burgers and fries, but also as a lack of understanding of a food product that is tied to British identity. In 1994 McDonald's test marketed the "McPloughman" in Britain. A "ploughman's lunch" is a very traditional British lunch that consists of bread, cheese (British, of course, usually cheddar) and a pickle (also cured in the British style). An attempt to tie the America-based company to such a traditional British product was a "McFlop." The company admitted that the British counter crew were embarrassed both by the concept and by the name itself.

    [Thanks to Stokes Jones for the tip to this one]


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