Design Exploration & Experimentation.

Since I was still unsatisfied with my coded language, I decided to give it a few more shots. I came down to two solutions.

The first is a geometric crooked carrot broken down into parts:


The second is a play on the ‘crookedness’. I found it to be cleaner and easier to use than the one above. Therefore, I opted for this one:


Since I had really enjoyed creating all of the crooked carrots in the previous code, I decided to try and repurpose them.

This was my first sketch:


It then developed into the comic strip below.
The plot follows a sad carrot that is about to be discarded but then gets called by a fellow crooked carrot to join the party in the ‘discount bin’ where all of the crooked carrots are finding happy homes.


From here, I decided to develop a sign for the discount bin where we’d find these carrots and give them a happy home:


Finally, I designed a poster to compliment this friendly crooked carrot campaign:



Encoding and Decoding the Message.

I decided to approach this assignment in two ways. The first is a play on my figure of speech, using crooked carrots as my language to strengthen my message. The second is a code i created within a grid.

Can you decode the message?



Semiotic Message.

As a designer, I would like to engage with grocery stores in New York in order to reduce food waste which happens due to arbitrary expiration dates and the selective picking of visually appealing produce. I plan to do this by first engaging with store managers and understanding how these two types of food products (expired foods & misshapen produce) are treated in their facilities. Based on this, I will create a mechanism that is convenient for both them and their costumers in order to better utilize these untapped resources. By doing this, my intention is to bring conscience to the food waste movement and reduce the waste of perfectly edible foods in the grocery store segment.

Figures of Speech.

For my topic, food waste, I came up with 4 different figures of speech and recorded the observations/reactions of 5 people to each one of them.

  1. Food is Life.
    • P1: Accurate, but cliché.
    • P2: Not drawn to it.
    • P3: Neutral towards it.
    • P4: Seems like it’s been used for other things. Too broad.
    • P5: Agreed with the sentiment. Liked this one.
  2. Resourceful as a Raccoon.
    • P1: Funny.
    • P2: Too complicated.
    • P3: Didn’t get the reference.
    • P4: Didn’t get the reference.
    • P5: Understood, but didn’t think this was straightforward enough.
  3. Crooked Carrots are our Friends.
    • P1: Liked it.
    • P2: Liked this one the most “by a landslide”.
    • P3: Was a fan of the alliteration. Liked this one the most as well.
    • P4: Didn’t understand the connection to food waste.
    • P5: Really liked this one. Thought it was funny and communicated the message.
  4. Expiration dates are like a death sentence.
    • P1: Thinks this is an important topic, “people don’t talk about this.”
    • P2: Did not like it.
    • P3: Thought it was too harsh of a hyperbole.
    • P4: Liked the impact of this sentence.
    • P5: “Too intense”.

It was easy to conclude that #3, “crooked carrots are out friends” was the most well received. I had really liked #2, but this primary research made me realize that the message wasn’t pure enough in order to be readily interpretable.

Research Questions.

Those who generate food waste (consumers/businesses).

Food Waste.

In restaurants, grocery stores and at home.

While cooking meals, after a meal, when products expire, when products are not attractive.

Lack of resources and information, inconvenience.

By throwing out food when it is still consumable (leftovers from a restaurant, edible parts form produce not commonly considered edible, misshapen produce, products past their expiration date).

So What?
40% of perfectly edible food is not being consumed in the United States. 1/3 globally. There is enormous potential in these underutilized resources.

How does the dictionary define food waste?
Noun 1. food waste – food that is discarded (as from a kitchen)
garbage, refuse, scraps, waste, waste material, waste matter, waste product – any materials unused and rejected as worthless or unwanted; “they collect the waste once a week”; “much of the waste material is carried off in the sewers”
food waste. (n.d.) WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. (2003-2008). Retrieved September 12 2016 from

What is food waste similar to? In what ways?
Food waste is similar to many other environmental problems we face due to lack of information, convenience, and resources. Some of these are: carbon emissions, garbage accumulation, deforestation, etc.

What are the effects of food waste?
If has a couple of effects.
Environmental: Most think that it is harmless to trow food out since it is biodegradable. However, because we discard our trash in landfills, which are deprived of oxygen, rotting foods emit methane which is a greenhouse gas and bad for the ozone layer.
Social: With the amount of food we produce, everyone in the world should be eating a decent meal. However, that is not the way it is being distributed.
Farming industry: Tons of resources (water/energy) go into the production of food when a large amount of it goes to waste. 500.000.000 people can be served with water that is being thrown out in this process.

Are there any laws about food waste?
I found some interesting information about expiration dates. There are actually no laws that dictate that products at grocery stores should be marked with and expiration date label. The dates that are put on products are usually arbitrary.

Good samaritan act: protects people who donate food they deem to be in good shape.

What would prevent food waste from happening?
Educating people and making it convenient for them not to waste food.

Design Process Benchmark.
I found that the design process for Catapult Design, a San Fransisco based social design company, resonated with me:

Their process is divided into 4 main components, which are then broken down into other processes:

  1. Kickoff: Review project history and goals, define problem statement, co-create design brief, review roles, schedule & working protocol.
  2. Engage: Comprehend end-users, asses technical possibilities & competitive market, review program & policy, synthesize, reframe problem statement.
  3. Develop: Create concepts, prove concept, test with users and stakeholders, converge to focus, design review.
  4. Strategize: build vendor partnerships, create product architecture, plan for sourcing, field test, revise & review.

Breaking down the message.

Now that I’ve selected the topic of food waste, it is necessary break down the semiotic messages that can be found within this issue.

In order to fully understand what is being communicated and in what way, I need to divide the message into a few categories, as listed below:

  • Sender (who): Me
  • Intention (with what purpose, goals): Inform
  • Message (says what): Reduce food waste
  • Transmission (by which means): Capacitating
  • Noise (with what interference): Social constructs
  • Receiver (to whom): Restaurants and grocery stores
  • Destination (with what result): Food waste reduction
In this case, I (sender) am trying to capacitate (intention+transmission) restaurant/grocery store owners (receiver) in order for them to deal more effectively with food waste (message+destination) and break away from their preconceived notions (noise).
Moving along, I decided the 5 words below were the most pertinent to the subject matter. Below is their breakdown of signifiers/signifieds:
  • Trash can
    • Signifier: Trash can
    • Signified: Throwing away
  • Cuttlery
    • Signifier: Fork and Knife
    • Signified: Eating
  • Clock
    • Signifier: Clock
    • Signified: Time/Expiration
  • Chef’s Hat
    • Signifier: Chef’s Hat
    • Signified: Restaurant
  • Shopping Basket
    • Signifier: Shopping basket
    • Signified: Grocery Shopping

All of the chosen words represent something beyond their literal meaning. Therefore, all of the words are connotative symbols. However, they still have an iconic representation, as depicted below.