Eat healthy OR die filthy!  

Posted by Ketan Kulkarni

Working on the ‘eat healthy or die filthy’ project was quite a healthy learning experience for me. Starting the project, brainstorming the ideas and coming up with an exiting one was a tedious exercise. But when the discussions started, we went on discussing about the current issues humans are facing and what could we work as a research team to help people.

The title ‘Eat healthy or Die filthy’ was an abrupt idea from our team while thinking about the topic. This was when I was discussing about a program, which I saw, on BBC, named, ‘Freaky eaters’. Further discussing about the title, I thought from my personal observation that, hearing the name ‘Freaky eaters’ provoked me to watch the show on the BBC channel. So we decided to keep the title bold and catchy. I also watched a program ‘super slim vs. super skinny’ on channel 4, which influenced me for thinking about the issue of poor eating diets. Watching unrelated documentaries, a couple of months back, on the TV proved useful. I feel so because, I had seen them while having my meals and they became useful information and a motivational kick for our project.

We all are from different cultural backgrounds, like, David is from the UK, Ahmed is from Saudi Arabia, Jegan from Srilanka and I am from India. This proved useful for us as we shared useful information regarding the food traditions, rituals and festivals in our respective countries. We came up with the issue of obesity in children, especially, the nursery children. Jegan, Ahmed and I explained the traditions and our experiences in Srilanka, Saudi Arabia and India, which we observed. We discussed about the growing hype of burgers and pizzas in the east and south Asian countries. We watched a couple of videos, on Youtube, of obese people. We also referred different articles on the Internet related to the increasing problem of poor diet in the nurseries. Dividing the work of literature research in four of us made it easier and quicker way of gathering more information within a short span.

Initially the ideas weren’t substantial but after searching for literature over the Internet and consequent discussions with Dr. Catriona MacAulay, we finalised a subject for concentration. We were now working on a research proposal about what factors are responsible for the poor diet of the nursery children. Again, each of us, being from different cultural background, discussed the scenario of the factors responsible for obesity in each country, such as, I discussed that, India was a country of villages and farmers. Eating more oily and fatty food was useful for the farmers working on the fields in earlier days, but currently the diet remains the same although the lifestyles have changed. People have started working in IT companies. The jobs they perform mostly comprise of sitting at one place for long hours, which is the prime reason for increasing obesity and related diseases. David and Dr. Catriona explained how the invention of heaters, in early 70s, decreased the burning of calories due to cold, which resulted in increase of obesity in Britain. We discussed about the difference in our childhoods, when we were in nurseries, and the situation right now.

Considering the exchange of Ideas and experiences discussed by us I feel that, brainstorming is a greatest exercise I have learnt by working on the earlier semester’s project and this one. Earlier, I was completely concentrating on individual work after a brief given by the client to work on a design.

It was a valuable experience working with an ethnographer. In our team Jegan was the only ethnographer and we three were designers. Being designers, our thinking was result oriented, with a substantial design outcome as a solution, for the problem. But ethnographers concentrate more on the research part of the problem and gathering information, which changed my vision towards a design solution. I thought, every time, being a designer, I think of a substantial design output, but never thought that a deep research study would be more multipurpose instead of running behind a design solution, which I did in the past. I learnt that putting more efforts into the research initially, than thinking about the design solution, widens the scope of the anticipated design outcome.

Working with the Gantt charts was the most important thing for me in this project. Up till now, I wasn’t aware of this method for planning the budget and the timeline of a project.

A detailed budget was impossible without a team while working on the monetary part of the project and discussing the financial needs throughout the research project. Each of us came with a different need throughout the time span, while discussing the proposal. Working on the time line of the project was a tough task, but all of us, being from a different field of study, and having commercial experience, it became easy as we went on. Jega, because of his experience in management in his previous employments, was fast and quick in visualising the Gantt chart and plotting down the information.

Working on the Gantt chart gave me an idea of developing a business model of my master’s project, which I elaborated in the 2500 word journalistic write up. I found useful for planning my master’s project in a timescale with the costs involved in each phase.

Initially, we planned to go for a project, which would last for three years, but then after having a chat with Dr. Catriona MacAulay, we finalised to work on a research report as the outcome of the project, rather than a substantial design outcome. Again being diversified due to our respective fields, we had different views in the dissemination part of the research proposal. This was a good point as it created a huge amount of Ideas for us to rate and it led to a variety of options to select as final.

Working with an ethnographer in the project was an added advantage for figuring out the research methods and methodologies for the research in depth. While working on the methods and methodologies, we referred the IDEO method cards from the library. We thought of active research as a major part of the research methods we discussed, which eventually provoked the idea of involving nutritionists, child psychologists in our research team.

Working on the presentation part of the research proposal, we distributed the time in four of us, according to our comfort and expertise. David was good in starting the presentation by creating a positive environment, which he did effectively. Ahmed was good at management of money and Jega was good in managing the planning and timescales as he had worked in visualising the Gantt chart, so they both elaborated the costs and Gantt chart respectively. I elaborated the research question and methods and methodologies required for the project.

Giving a presentation was much easier than in the last semester. It was more confident and a positive feeling remained while presentation was on. I feel that, after entering into the professional world, the level of confidence and presentation skills would be much more developed.