Top Chef is an Emmy Award-winning American reality show that debuted on Bravo in 2006. The premise is simple. Each season’s “cheftestants” compete in various culinary challenges to determine who is crowned the Top Chef. The challenges require the contestants to gather their ingredients from a set assortment of food items – each chef then creates their own signature rendition, unique and (hopefully) mouth-watering!
Below is a quick video showing the contestants racing to select their ingredients and cooking implements from a pantry – their challenge is to make create a “deconstructed omelet.”
Think about the various constraints the “cheftestants” encounter: time, limited ingredients, space… Constraints impact the process of innovation in significant ways, yet constraints also push you to be your most creative self.
We are going to apply the same concept in your first challenge of the semester: the Top Chef Innovation Challenge. A challenge in our class is an opportunity for you to play with the major elements of innovative thinking to create a prototype. Each challenge is unique and is designed to introduce or reinforce a specific concept. In this challenge, you will need to brainstorm, understand the user, and prototype with limited resources and time.
Getting some perspective: Listen to a short video of one of the INOV 1010 instructors, Carolyn Gery, sharing a personal experience involving a mountain bike, a cliff, and a walker.
For this challenge, you will use an assortment of household objects listed below to construct an innovative tool designed to assist an independent 84-year-old who lives alone. The person has limited mobility and uses a walker to move around the main level condo. Mobility is sufficient to navigate the space, however, it is a struggle to bend down and impossible to use a step stool. Everyday activities are difficult, emptying the dishwasher, collecting laundry, cooking, putting groceries away, taking out the trash… you get the idea.
Prototype Level: low-fidelity. A low-fidelity prototype is a rough, simple version of your concept. We should be able to understand how your design functions, yet it does not need to be pretty or have every attribute operational. For example, your concept may have a turbo launch button integrated into the design, in this prototype it may be a hand-colored circle. When you present your prototype in your documentation you will describe how your design functions and you can walk us through any additional, relevant features.
While it may seem constraints limit creativity, they actually force the ideation process to expand in different directions thereby spurring “out-of-the-box” thinking. To create a similar experience for your Top Chef Innovation challenge, we are giving you the following constraints which will limit the time you have to construct the prototype and the materials you use in your design.