Project 1: The Problem With Lunch

Observation, sketching and insight development form a core of design practice. P1 warms us up with these skills.


Make sure you've familiarized yourself with Project 0 and gathered any necessary materials.


Every day for five days, go to a different eatery on and off campus during the height of the lunch rush. You do not have to eat there, but you do need to note (in your sketchbook) the flow of people and any problem areas or areas of opportunity. overwhelming.

Suggested drawings:

  • A map of the space indicating areas of trouble
  • Postures of people showing emotion, relationships, conversations
  • Sketches of anything unusual happening in a restaurant or that the restaurant is doing (good or bad) -- especially if it involves people
  • Little vignettes that catch your attention, specific incidents

You also need to talk to one or two people each day, take notes of what what they are saying, and then sketch their mental model of how they think about lunch.

Some tips:

  • One idea per sketch: In addition to maps and complete overviews of the space, aim to draw many smaller sketches that each highlight a single idea, behavior, or emotion. Combining too many “stories” into the same sketch can become overwhelming.
  • Annotation: Go back after the fact and add handwritten or typed notes to briefly explain what this is showing and why it is a problem. You should draw quickly in the moment…but an annotated submission closes the loop.
  • Interviews: Explicitly lay out what you learned from the interviews you conducted at each site.
  • Emotion: Focus on humans and emotion over static things like floorplans. Pay attention to interactions between people and not just logistics. How are people engaging? Notice what individuals, pairs, and small groups are specifically doing
  • Don’t decide in advance what is going to be important later on. This is the time to diverge not censor your sketching. Sketch anything that captures your eye regardless of whether you can explain at the time if it will be interesting later on. At this stage, quantity of observation is actually important so you can spot patterns later on that you may not have noticed in the moment.
  • Captions: Use captions or callouts to supplement sketches.

Examples (more at the end of this document)

example 1

example 2

example 3

example 4

Where to go:

  • Bike, Marguerite, Lyft, etc., to get off campus. University Avenue, California Avenue, Castro Street in Mountain View are all great options.
  • Have a point of view on what you are drawing. You are not trying to imitate a camera taking in everything. Think about what are the important details you might want to highlight or remember and how to capture those.
  • If you have class or sports during lunch, you can dinner or another rush-hour. Ask staff for advice.

Bring your in-progress observations to the first studio (Wednesday/Thursday).


Review the notes and sketches that you took from your restaurant visits and synthesize them into a point of view on the lunch rush. You should start on your own using techniques learned in CS147 and then we will do more synthesis together in class Week 2. What are the unmet needs during lunch? What are the deeper needs that your initial observations reveal? Why are people behaving the way that you saw during the lunch rush? Clearly define the problem that you think should be addressed.

Insights should be INSIGHTFUL:
Examples of weak "insights" that are too high level/logistical/not insightful:

  • People are rushed during lunch
  • There are not enough chairs
  • Some people eat alone and others eat iin groups
  • It's boring to stand in line / lines are long
  • Lunch is inefficient
  • People throw garbage away in the wrong bins

These are all observations, but are not deeper needs. Each of these observations has a deeper level of why which leads to a need. Dive below surface-level "armchair problems” (that could be brainstormed without leaving your armchair to actually do needfinding).

Ask yourself why this is really happening on a personal, emotion level. For logistical problems you observe, dig under the surface to explore the long term and short term impact on the people involved, how it might fit in with the larger context of their day and their goals, why they might especially feel annoyed about a logistical problem other than just’s annoying. Deliverable will be a short (250-500 words) problem statement of your top insight on the problem with lunch. Include any relevant images. Do NOT write about solutions.

If you're having trouble coming to a conclusion, try making a fishbone diagram!

For Studio A, Week 2 Bring an initial set of insights with you to studio and all of your sketches / notes. We will synthesize them further.


DUE: 4/13

One PDF with the following:

  • Observation: All of your sketches and notes, annotated so that we know what we are looking at and why we are looking at it. Everything should have a caption.
  • Show your work: Include pictures of your synthesis activities, annotated and with captions so we know what we are looking at it, what you are doing, and why
  • List of insights you considered on the way to your top insight
  • Final explanation of your top insight: Short description (250-500 words) of the your top insight for this project, including how you came to it and what observations it is connected to. Crystallize your problem into a single sentence problem statement. Then explain clearly how your chosen problem stems directly from observations and interviews.
  • 3 How might we questions that arise out of this insight that you could use to seed a brainstorm
  • Read this to get a strong start.

Submit on Canvas.

Grading rubric

We will be very generous in our grading regarding sketching quality (since you are new) but we do want to see complete thought out work.

Category Scores
[1 / 7pts]
Observations are very limited in volume, do not have a point of view, or are not captured in sketches
[3 / 7pts]
Observations are limited in volume, rarely have a point of view, or are not effectively captured in sketches
[5 / 7pts]
Observations are moderately diverse, occasionally have a point of view, or are moderately effectively captured in sketches
[7 / 7pts]
Observations are diverse, take a point of view, and are captured effectively in sketches
[1 / 7pts]
Problem statement is unclear or inappropriate
[3 / 7pts]
Problem statement is questionably grounded in the observations
[5 / 7pts]
Problem statement synthesizes the observations into an appropriate, but not entirely novel, point of view
[7 / 7pts]
Problem statement synthesizes the observations into a novel point of view
[1 / 7pts]
Documentation is vague, opaque, missing
[3 / 7pts]
Documentation is poor. All components are there but many are confusing. Many statements are not well supported or presented without any explanation
[5 / 7pts]
Documentation is uneven. Some areas are well documented and clear while others have minor problems in formatting, content, or polish
[7 / 7pts]
Documentation is extremely clear. All pictures are captioned and/or annotated. It is easy to read and understand what happened and the arguments are well supported. There are not typos or grammatical errors. It is a joy to read

More Examples:

example 1

example 2

example 3

example 4

example 5