Our lives are made up of human-machine interactions—with smartphones, televisions, internet-enabled parking meters that don’t accept coins – that have the power to delight and, often, infuriate. (“Maddening” is Vikram’s one-word description for 90-button TV remotes.) Into this arena has stepped a new class of professional: the user-experience, or UX, designer, whose job is to see a product not from an engineer’s, marketer’s, or legal department’s perspective but from the viewpoint of the user alone. And to insist that the customer should not have to learn to speak the company’s internal language. The company should learn to speak the customer’s language.
At Hungry Wheels the language we speak is of the heart of the hospitality business, its economic engine – the kitchen, the person we care most for is the Chefpreneur. Read on to know more…
There are many places online and offline universities where you can learn UX. But Hungry Wheels is one of the few industrial companies in India to put UX at the heart of industrial design and in charge.
The term UX originated in Silicon Valley. Don Norman, a UC San Diego professor and the author of the seminal book The Design of Everyday Things, worked at Apple during Steve Jobs’s exile in the 1990s. “I thought the quality of the Apple computer was going downhill a little bit,” he told me recently. “We’d reach the tail end of a project, and the engineers would have their say, the marketing people would have their say.” But no one at the table was advocating for the user. In 1993, Norman suggested to then-CEO John Sculley the need for “someone who took the overview of what it was like to use these machines.” He formed a UX office and styled himself as Apple’s user-experience architect.
The migration of UX thinking to other industries was accelerated by the Palo Alto design outfit Ideo, whose founder, David Kelley, helped design the first Apple mouse. It counted Medtronic and Procter & Gamble among its first clients. In the early 1990s, a 30-something Hackett visited Ideo as Steelcase was thinking of entering a new market. He described his experience there as “so profound” that three years later, Steelcase bought a majority stake in the company—in part to get full-time access to Kelley through an always-on video link. And the rest… is history.
Coming to India…
The design thinking and systems design approach at Hungry Wheels means we are always hungry to solve pain points using our design processes. When looking for problems to solve nothing quiet works as well as good old-fashioned customer research.
So, before we started the business, as granny would say… many, many years ago, our team spent hundreds of hours researching working kitchens, interviewing chefs and kitchen manufacturers. India, Singapore, Cambodia, Korea till Japan and USA we wanted to know what they hated, what they wished for in their work home – the restaurant kitchen. Peeling a few layers of the jokes we found them toiling away with unwanted sweat, avoidable back-aches, and spending all their time in concrete boxes.
This is when it was evident that in the hoard of making cash and cooking up a storm, the human who is at the heart of the F&B industry had been ignored, or maybe even forgotten by themselves and majority of the restaurateurs.
Soon after we started working with our OEM partners and design-thinkers, to conceptualise a working space which provides comfort, nurtures positivity and gives the opportunity to smell the roses – even in the most extreme climates, working at extreme speed in the most unforgiving environment – the Indian street.